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To Niche or Not to Niche

Updated: May 31

The mere mention of the word niche will have many a new coach or consultant running for the hills.

It’s easy to see why so many of us resist it.

We don’t want to rule things out. We want variety in our offering. We want to serve as many people as possible. We worry that a smaller audience will mean we’ll make less money. We’ll find it impossible to choose a niche. We might choose the wrong niche. The list goes on…...

But if you’ve tried attracting clients without a niche then you’ve probably struggled. It’s likely your messaging was vague, easily lost and you ended up not engaging with anyone.

From a marketing perspective targeting a larger, broader audience is difficult (not impossible), and could require a much bigger investment of both time and money. But there are exceptions especially if there’s already a high demand for your offering, for example I offer leadership coaching which covers multiple topics so is fairly broad. As there is an established market for this across organisations a lot of the groundwork has been done so marketing and selling my services is a little easier than less established areas.

As the coaching industry has grown there has been a trend towards niching and the advice from a sales and marketing perspective has been fairly consistent: the more defined your niche the easier it will be to build a profitable business. Whilst there’s some truth in this perspective, I don’t believe you have to have a niche when you start your business, in fact you can build a modest income with a more generalized offer. However, if you decide to scale your business, you may find that niching becomes more important. Before deciding whether niching is right for you or not lets delve into it a little more.

So, what is a niche and how does it help our businesses?

Niching refers to the market you’re targeting, your audience or your ideal client depending on your strategy. It might combine demographics, life stage or interest groups, for example, professional women becoming parents for the first time.

To define your niche, you need to understand who your ideal client is, the problem you’re solving, what results and benefits they’ll gain and how you’ll help them. If you can answer these questions, then you'll be a step closer to really understanding the clients you want to serve which means you can create deeper connections with them. Knowing and understanding your ideal client allows your marketing to be more effective which will result in more clients.

Niching taps into the fundamental way people buy. We naturally buy from people who are specifically focused on our needs. Consider the number of people offering the same services as you and contemplate how you can differentiate yourself and attract clients effectively.

Let's illustrate this with some examples. Imagine you're in search of a photographer for your wedding. Instead of simply searching for "photographers," you would likely search for "wedding photographers in London" or perhaps "natural wedding photographers in London." You are seeking an expert who possesses experience in delivering a specific service tailored to meet your needs and solve your problems. Now, let's say you're a 40-year-old female lawyer who dislikes her job but is unsure about her next career move so feels stuck. Which career coach is she more likely to hire?

Career Coach 1: “I help people find work they enjoy”

Career Coach 2: “I help midlife, professional women who feel stuck to redesign their careers.”

By clearly defining their niche, Career Coach 2 establishes themselves as an expert who caters specifically to the needs and aspirations of the target audience, making them a more compelling choice for the 40-year-old female lawyer seeking career guidance. A specialist can also be found more easily, you have stand out in the market, they tend to be more skilled in their zone of expertise which often means they can also charge more.

Niching can be a great way to market your business in the early stages, it helps to open new doors, and engage successfully with potential clients. Most of our fears around niching are unfounded and the benefits far outweigh our concerns. If you’re struggling with the whole concept, the good news is niching doesn’t have to be permanent. Just look at Facebook, it started as a platform to connect college students in the US, and look at the breadth of audience now.

Niching doesn’t mean we can’t do more than one thing either. Many of us have portfolio careers, me included. But if you do choose to service more than one group you may need to market them separately as the audiences are likely to be different, the problems you’re solving will vary therefore your messaging needs to be different. So consider your capacity to be able to do this effectively.

There are various ways to approach niching and the good news is you don’t have to be 100% clear from the beginning. But having some idea of your niche will make your marketing easier and more effective. You will attract more clients because you’ll be clearer on the problem you solve and the benefits you can deliver.

Finding your niche is a process and not one you’re going to solve with a quick online quiz so it may take some time. Once you have an idea about your niche it’s essential to validate it to ensure you have a viable business proposition before investing too much time and money in your business.

To read my practical guide to choosing your niche click HERE

Need support?

I support new coaches and consultants as they set up and grow their practice. I provide affordable coaching and mentoring on a 1-1 basis and in small groups. My next available small group cohort will be starting in Autumn 2023. Please get in touch to register your interest and find out more HERE

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