A well known catch phrase from a popular movie is “follow the money.” In Internet marketing, the best advice is often “follow the problem.” The most effective online products are those that address problems.
How to break into Internet marketing. How to lose weight. How to avoid foreclosure in a down market. These are questions that are being asked and problems that are driving people to search engines desperately searching for answers. But how do you know what people are really asking and what they really want to know about?
You have to do your research and listen into the online conversations in your niche. Start with keyword research for your niche topic. You can find out what the trending online interests are with Google Labs. By following up to the minute searches over a few days or weeks, you will be able to see when the trend shifts and a new hot topic rises. A new topic represents a potential new niche.
Join discussion groups and forums in your niche. Get involved, ask questions. You can certainly use a different name—just be sure that you contribute to the conversation. Nothing will get you barred from a forum faster than showing up with a sales pitch instead of being a participant.
Once you make several posts and join the conversation, you can then offer suggestions or recommendations related to your specific issue. Talk about what you know and use common sense. A man joining a woman specific forum will just send up red flags. Be as authentic as you can be without promoting your own site.
When you get a hint of a problem from comments in the forum, be bold and ask, “Does anybody have a good resource for how to . . . ” If no one has any suggestions, there is an opportunity for a product waiting to be developed.
You can also get a feel for problems by scanning major blogs like Technorati and Boing Boing. Subscribe to blogs that are popular with followers of your niche interest. Chances are they will comment on those blogs.
If you find that there is a product to address a specific problem, take a look at it. What can you do to improve, simplify, or add a new twist to that answer? Is it a high priced product if so can you develop something at a slightly lower price point.
Is it too simplistic and vague? This is where you could add more substance, get endorsements from reviewers and position your product as the premium solution. There is money to be made online by solving simple problems where the public is using the internet to find solutions.