The Power of Niche
Today’s blog post is prompted by a question that I’m often asked while I’m promoting my “Get More Clients Saying Yes!” course. Whenever I talk about having heart-centred sales conversations that lead the client comfortably to a ‘yes’ decision, someone will ask the very valid question “but where do the clients come from to have the sales conversations with in the first place?”
And it’s a great question! Because the sales conversation is only one-half of the picture when it comes to securing paying clients. The other half is your marketing activity and ensuring that you have a steady flow of clients coming to you who are interested in what you do, think you might be able to help them and are open to entering a sales conversation with you.
Which brings me on to the topic of today’s blog….
The Power of Niche
There are a number of very effective marketing approaches that you can use to attract clients to you, and then use the sales conversation to draw them in closer to you and get their commitment rather than allowing them to drift off again. But what really gives impact to so many of these marketing approaches is having a niche that you specialise in.
A niche is typically a specific group of people with a specific problem to whom you can provide a solution. It could be mums who want to lose their baby weight, over-busy couples struggling to conceive, executives suffering stress and anxiety who just want a good night’s sleep, or dentists who need help balancing their books. Anything really where there is a specific defined group of people with a specific problem who you are able to reach and communicate the clear message that you understand their problem and you can help.
How you help will, of course, depend on your particular service and programme, but what attracts the client to you is not that you practice reiki, can advise on nutrition or that you are a qualified accountant. What draws them to you is their belief that you can solve their problem – the specific tools and methods you use are often of far less interest to the client than you might realise.
I would never go so far as to say “your business will never work if you don’t have a niche”, because it’s clearly not true – many people do build successful businesses and practices as a generalist. However, I would say that this is definitely the hard way to go about it. The best way to quickly make your mark and build a successful business is to choose a niche or target market and focus on it.
Your niche is how you stand out from the crowd and get noticed. And there are a few clear advantages of being very clear on the group of people you help and how you help them:
The advantage of niche
1. You’ll stand out online
If you want a business you can run fully online a niche will help you get noticed. There is so much noise and competition for attention out there in the “inter-ether”. Attention spans are short and people will move on quickly if they can’t instantly see “what’s in it for me?”. It is WAY more difficult to get noticed online without a clear message than it is offline where people are building a real-world connection with you, and where you have a bit more time to explain what you do.
2. You can run group programmes and memberships
If you want to run group online programmes or memberships you will need a clear target market and way that you help that specific group. For any sort of group programme to work, the only way to do that in a leveraged way, without burning yourself out trying to be all things to all people, is to create a journey that everyone can go through at pretty much the same time and come out with a similar result. It’s also hard to get people to commit to a group programme that is overly broad in nature – we are all busy and nobody wants to waste time sitting through a lot of content and sessions that don’t feel directly relevant to them.
3. You’ll get more invitations
As a specialist you are far more likely to get the reaction “Oh, I love the sound of that – would you come and talk to my community/audience/members?” than as a generalist. This means that you’ll get more invitations to speak, to be interviewed as an expert, and do podcast interviews – which in turn all helps to reach more people and puts your business on the map.
4 You’ll do a lot less work to stand out a lot more.
When you introduce yourself as a “hypnotherapist”, “reiki practitioner”, “accountant”, “transformational coach” or in my case “sales trainer” or “business coach” it is so much harder to stand out from all the other people who do what you do. When you can say “I help this specific group of people solve this specific problem” it is so much easier for people to get that “oh, that’s me!” feeling and want to know more.
Are you resisting a niche?
Despite all of this, many of the heart-centred business owners that I work with often really resist the idea of niching. They worry that they will get bored if they focus on just one type of client, or that by niching they won’t be able to help all the other many clients that they feel drawn to work with. Sometimes they simply can’t decide what their niche ‘should’ be.
A niche is just part of your marketing
The secret is to remember that your niche is just a way of attracting clients to you, but it doesn’t mean you have to turn away everyone else. When I started out my niche was female coaches, therapists, and healers. But I still had plenty of people (men included) who joined my programmes who were in other types of service business – the principles work just as well for an accountant, a designer, or a virtual PA as they do for a coach or therapist.
This very specific focus in the early days gave me traction with female coaches, healers, and therapists who knew I was there to help them, and also with people who had access to my perfect audience – so it helped me get established very quickly.
It wasn’t long before I was able to expand on my message to the much broader “heart-centred business owner” – but it was that very specific focus that got me up and running in the first place.
A niche isn’t forever
Your niche doesn’t have to be forever, but it does need to be something you would feel happy to specialise in for at least 2-3 years. At a certain point, your business will reach a critical point where you are successful, established, have a plentiful flow of clients, and a solid reputation behind you. At that point, you may decide to broaden out what you offer again and become more of a generalist. You’ll find that a lot easier to do with a successful business and solid income behind you. This move from specialist to generalist is more common than you may realise. Many of those “generalists” you might be looking at and thinking “If they can do it, why can’t I?” started out with a specialism themselves and only broadened out their offers later once they were very well known.
A final word of warning
However, what I also see is a lot of early-stage business owners putting too much pressure on themselves to find their niche too early, often at the expense of actually getting their business going, and this can be dangerous in itself. Beware of sitting at home trying to “think your way” to a niche from the comfort of your sofa. This wasn’t how it worked for me, and it’s not what I observe works for my clients either. Instead what I recommend you do is to take the pressure off for a period of time and allow yourself 3-6 months to just “play”. Especially if you haven’t had many paying clients yet, try out different niches and messages for size. Just like wearing a different hat each time you go out. By talking about what you do in different ways, and working with a few different types of clients you’ll soon find out what seems to land, and most importantly what you enjoy doing and where you do your best work. And the niche won’t be hard to find. In fact, you’ll probably be surprised to find that it was right at the end of your nose all the time. It was for me!
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