Allow me throw a target audience at you – let’s say… wedding photographers. It’s a fairly straightforward group, right?
They go to weddings, take pictures of the entire event (possibly dealing with a Bridezilla or two along the way), they Photoshop the images, and maybe make a wedding album of the happy day. It doesn’t seem like a terribly difficult field to figure out, does it?
Knowing what you know about wedding photographers (which may be limited to what we just discussed here), do you think you could start a blog for them? Do you think you could write an e-book for this audience?
Maybe not on the photography side, but possibly with a business angle?
You could just fire up the old Google Keyword Tool and get to work seeing what they were search for.
At least that’s the way most niche marketers start the process. And it’s what I consider to be one of the biggest mistakes you could make during the very necessary research phase.
What the Google Keyword Tool is…
The Google Keyword Tool is an estimation of keywords and search stats. The operative word here being “estimation.”
Google is NEVER going to give you exact information about traffic. And even though they do match up some synonym-like phrases, it’s never a complete story.
Remember, this is a tool for paying advertisers.
And even though Google makes the tool helpful, they’ve never come right out and said, “Hey niche marketers, optimize your sites with the information you find in our tool.”
The Google Keyword Tool is a dangerous crutch for people who don’t know their audience.
I can’t tell you how many keywords I’ve used that the Keyword Tool says has 0 traffic, and ends up generating a ton of traffic for me. Articles on this very blog, in fact.
Yeah, it’s a crapshoot. But so is chasing after a known, highly targeted keyword.
You can afford to close your eyes and shoot the dice if you simply know your audience.
Let’s go back to the wedding photographer example so I can show you what I mean.
So let’s say you’re going to write a blog for wedding photographers.
If you go to the Google Keyword Tool and enter the term “wedding photographer marketing” a lot of regional phrases show up (ie: New York wedding photographer). There are also some keywords related to equipment and rates.
It’s a VERY incomplete story compared to what wedding photographers really want.
I know because I researched this market WITHOUT the Google Keyword Tool.
The difference between what you pick up from the Keyword Tool and what you learn when you do real research is staggering.
I discovered there are actually four sub-categories within the larger wedding photographer niche:
1) Amateur photographers who are asked to shoot a friend’s wedding for free or for a few hundred dollars.
2) Novice photographers who have completed 5 or fewer weddings and are still looking for tips/advice. Novices usually charge under $1K per wedding.
3) Intermediate photographers who have 10-20 weddings under their belt, and may charge anywhere from $1K-$3K per wedding.
4) Professionals who have successfully completed dozens or hundreds of weddings and are charging higher end prices of $4K or more.
I can break that down even further
Amateurs are good with a camera and have the appropriate equipment to do the job. They usually get started because a friend asks them to do the work. These are people who charge $400 or less for a wedding.
Amateurs can be very equipment focused in their quest for knowledge. On the forums they ask more technical questions, obviously because they need to ramp up their knowledge quickly.
Novices usually aren’t full-time photographers. They still have day jobs, while they shoot weddings on the weekends. They tend to need more specific information related to lighting and equipment.
Amateurs and novices who charge little or nothing (under $1K is considered dirt cheap for wedding photography services) are often belittled on the forums because of their lower prices.
Senior members tend to say that lower prices damage the industry. There’s a serious “Us-vs-Them” mentality going on.
Intermediate photographers have at least 10-12 weddings in the bank. Their prices can be higher because they have a bigger portfolio to display, and they understand the hustle and bustle of a wedding environment.
They’ve already started to hit a few snags in the process, and they have some ideas on how to work through them.
They tend to focus on more detailed marketing questions, like: “What should I do to prepare for a bridal expo?” or “How do you get your images featured in a bridal magazine?”
They may ask seek out equipment information, but moreso to enhance what they already have.
For example on the forums they may ask, “Should I use this or that when photographing in this light?” instead of an amateurs of novices “What should I use when photographing in this light?”
On the forums professionals aren’t as bountiful as the first three segments. They don’t ask as many questions, however they do provide a ton of advice.
The most vocal professionals tend to be people who have been on the same forum for a number of years. They can also be the ones who huff and puff about charging too little. Though they tend not to ask a lot of questions, their advice can definitely become kindling wood for your blog or e-book.
Suddenly it all becomes obvious – you can’t judge a niche by the Google Keyword Tool.
As you can see, not all wedding photographers are created equally. Each segment harbors a unique set of fears and needs.
Therefore to maximize your clicks/sales, you have to know exactly which one of these sub-segments you’re selling to, and then you have to speak their language.
I’ve written a (now) 180+ page manual on how to use high-level research strategies to create e-books that attract impulse buyers.
One of the things I advocate is that we, as niche marketers, stop putting our faith into so many automated tools that purport to give us all the answers we need to succeed.
I show you how to really dig into a niche so you can write articles and e-books that attract search engine traffic and prospects who need your information.
It’s coming. I should know the launch date tomorrow in fact.
In the meantime, put the Google Keyword Tool away and let your audience do all the talking. You might be surprised at what you really learn.