Here's an edited extract of a report I prepared for an online business. I think it applies to most new businesses though: Attention is extremely valuable. Advertisers are will no longer pay for Attention (clicks, branding etc.) that doesn't contribute to their bottom line they want relevant audiences. So targetting is more important than ever before.

With the vast amounts of content available, people aren't looking for more. They are looking for less. Put another way, they only pay attention to stuff that is specifically relevant to them.

Because all their possible choices of info sources online cost the same (they all cost nothing but attention), users are looking for the best result they can get most conveniently, because with so many free options available, there's no good reason to settle for less. So, clearly, to get any attention at all, we have to be seen as the best - perception is reality.

The key to this is targeting a very specific niche (minorities are all that's left) and dominating it completely! By "Domination" I mean serving their needs so specifically and well and consistently that they become dependent on you. If people feel that your business understands and respects them better than your competitor's do, they will be loyal to you.

By respect, I mean respect for their attention - to deliver exactly what they are looking for, when and where they are looking for it, and not giving them stuff they can get at a non-specialist place. Imagine a health-food shop that sold slap-chips and coke - it's likely that they would lose the credibility to offer advice and recommend products, and would lose their best clients.

Top blogs and websites today obsessively cater for small and edgy niches that the big guys can't get to. Gawker Media (a blog empire) is a proof of this (e.g. A "small", well-connected niche can be very influential online, and is easier to engage with than lumbering old markets.

You probably already have a vague target. Now you need to define exactly what that means to you, and also what that doesn't mean to you.

Advertisers want to be sure that they are getting "bang for their buck". Smart advertisers would rather pay R1000 to be in front of 500 hot prospects, than pay R500 to be in front of 1000 people who don't care. You need to give some certainty. Use your understanding of your Customer to shape your business, and to share your understanding with them.

Serving a highly targeted niche also allows you to develop a strong expertise in particular subjects. Once again, Advertisers will pay dearly to be associated with an opinion leader.

So, my last word on this is that we must clearly define our target and be disciplined in the way that we keep focused on that target: distraction will cause us to miss!

AuthorDave Duarte