You have some skills, knowledge and value.
Who do you offer it to? Who do you approach? Everyone? A well-defined audience?
What are the pros and cons of going broad vs narrow?
In this post, I go over the fears, the ways of approaching this choice. I also list different ways to find and test a niche.
It will hopefully help you towards finding your next clients, or at least spark some ideas that can lead to it.
1. What is niching?
Niching (or niching down) is often described as the segment of a market that you serve.
It can be broad, or narrow.
From broad to narrow, here are some examples:
I am an accountant and I serve every business owners (from a solopreneur to a Fortune 500 company)
I am an accountant and I serve small business owners
I am an accountant and I serve small business owners between 3 and 12 employees.
I am an accountant and I serve dental clinics between 3 an 12 employees.
I am an accountant and I serve dental clinics with a specialty in orthodontics between 3 an 12 employees.
I am an accountant and I serve dental clinics with a specialty in orthodontics between 3 an 12 employees wanting to grow from 2M of revenue to 10M of revenue.
For me niching is find the right balance between going too broad and too narrow.
The benefit of being narrow: you will resonate a lot with your niche, and you will have much less competition.
The benefit of going broad: Anybody could be a client. But you are competing with thousands of other people. And people have no reasons to pick you.
Let's have a look at an example.
Example of Micro-niches
This artist could probably draw anything for anyone, but he draws only maps and only for ski resorts
He has been featured in industry magazines, and people are calling him.
Market Size : 3200 Major Ski Resorts in the World (Source)
2. Fears of Niching Down
When I talk to business owners about niching down, it's very often met with a long silence. It's so common, it's been addressed by many of the best business coaching organizations.
The Fear of Niching down and missing out on potential clients
If you don't have many leads coming your way, the first fear is having even less leads.
Here is Glen Carlson from the Key Person of Influence talks about this common fear.
Here's a video from Jonathan Stark talking about niching down, or pigeonholing yourself.
0:13 - The fear of missing out. The fear of missing out or refusing clients.
4:16 - You don't need to niche your entire business all at once.
9:09 - How to test a niche or new target market.
10:19 - Test, test, test.
Positioning Fear Reflex
35:09 - Fear of not getting clients
40:00 - Fear of getting bored.
Fear that the market is too small.
How many clients can you serve at the moment?
If your niche has only 100 businesses in it, and if you can serve only 5% of this market, it's 5 clients. If they each bring in $2,000/month each, it's a $120,000/year in revenue.
You can always expand to new niches if the market gets saturated, or disappear.
Don't forget that if you are ultra-specialized, you can be the only person in the world with your expertise, and many people do not care where you are located.
Fear of not being able to scale: How Facebook started.
Initial Market : 5,000 Harvard Students
Facebook is a good example of starting out in a very narrow niche. They started with Harvard students only. Now, they have 2 billion users. You can always add new niches after you have saturated one.
Fear of the micro-niche to disappear
Niches in the technology sector do disappear all the time. If you go after a niche that might die, just be aware of it. You can prepare to switch niches when things slow down.
There are always new niches being created.
Fear of not knowing the niche enough
Picking a niche where you have some expertise or knowledge about is always a good thing. But you could pick a niche you don't know much about.
Often clients have problems and have no one to help them solve it. Just by asking questions, they might ask you if you can solve it for them. You can be honest and tell them you are willing to try.
Fear of picking the wrong thing
Here is Jonathan Stark talking about this fear of choosing the wrong niche.
Fear of getting bored
Here is Jonathan Stark talking about the fear of getting bored.
Fear of existing clients finding out.
When you have a broad niche, and you decide to narrow down, your existing clients might become aware of it. It's usually rare. Most clients will not go on your website once they are client of yours.
3. Benefits of niching down
Now here are why you should do it, or try it at least.
Having Predictable Revenue
Here's a video summary of the book From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross.
Having less competition
Everybody fears niching down, so few do it and therefore there are a lot of wide open niches.
Choosing the clients you want to work with
If you get to a point where you have a lot of leads, you can then pick only the best clients, clients with whom you can do your best work and will respect you.
Being different and memorable
Easier to market
When you have multiple avatars, it makes it very hard to market to and to write to.
This includes writing a book.
Easier to be indexed by Google
If you write about a specific niche, and no one else does, google will likely rank you higher and faster.
People will feel understood when they read or hear you.
If you know something about the industry or the background of your client, and you have something in common already, and you will create an instant bond.
Selling Productized Service
By niching down, and understanding your segment, you can move away from one-on-one work, or custom work, and start to productize your services. This is a very good way to simplify your offering and increase your profit margins.
Cheaper to advertise
If you advertise on google for the a broad term, you will pay a lot of money as you will have a lot of competition. There are niches or micro-niches with very little competition, and you will pay much less per click.
If you are the only one bidding on Google Ads, and might pay $1 for a click, instead of $10, $20 or $100 per click.
People searching on Google, and other search engine, are people actively searching, and is very valuable. Sometimes they are looking for a solution, and have money to spend solving that problem.
Having less unqualified leads
When you reach a point of getting a lot of unqualified leads, niching down can be a very good way to only attract qualified leads.
Commanding higher price
This come down to supply and demand, expertise and perceived risks. If you want to increase your rate, niching down can be a very effective way.
5. When you should niche down
There are 2 approaches on this.
You can always try to get random clients, and if that doesn't work, then narrow down to a specific niche.
Do it at the very beginning
Yes, we all want to help everyone, and maybe one day we will, but why not pick a smaller market segement first. Here's Michael Seibel talking about it:
Later after you get "random" clients
Niching down is not always necessary when starting. You can always try going broad, and niche down later. Sometimes focusing on finding your first client will lead you to a particular niche.
Some people have niched down too early, developed a product and then realize the niche didn't want it.
Pre-selling your product is a great way to discover if your product has a fit in the market.
Here's Blair Enns:
6. Arguments against niching down
John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing makes a point in this video that maybe you should try different clients first.
Highly creative people needs a variety of clients. And there is a real benefits to clients to have a vendor with broad experience that do not only know a specific niche.
On top of it, if you are starting, the variety of clients will help you learn a lot more compared to working only with a narrow niche.
7. Multiple Niches?
8. Types of Niches
- 2:13 Vertical (Industry)
- 5:06 Horizontal specialty (Client often doesn't know)
- 8:15 Platform Specialization (Client knows)
9. How to find your niche
Starting with a problem, not an idea
Ask people, or business owners, about their problems. or look at your own problems you want to solve.
Here's Michael Seibel from Y-Combinator talking about it.
Here's an example of an idea not solving a problem:
By not holding back and being yourself
In this video, someone asks: I have trouble finding a niche.
The answer: I don't think you need to find a niche. [...] Your niche is you, the human. [...] Everybody is holding back their full self.
Watch Gary's answer.
By looking at your own knowledge, expertise and value
Here's a list of things you can look within yourself to help you find a niche.
- What you love
- Your skills
- Your interests
- Your knowledge
- Your personal stories
- Past experiences
- Feelings about a topic
- Opportunities in the marketplace
- Random ideas
- Your own struggles
- Your personal network
- The compliments you receive
- Your environment
- People around you
- Things you are enthusiastic about.
- Things you are confident about
By looking at opportunities
By research it
Through an MVP
Focus on the problem you solve and find desperate clients. Fire bad clients.
Through other people's failure
Niche Picking for Designers
Flaunt: Niche Picking and DIY Niche Marketing for Designers
10. How to talk about your niche
- Go all-in and update your homepage with your chosen niche.
- Creating an hidden page on your website and send people to that page.
- Add a vertical in your main menu.
- Go half way through a sub-niche.
- Create a new separate website and brand.
- Treat it as a separate campaign.
11. How to know if you have the right niche?
- Google your niche and see if you are on top
- Google your own name and see if you are on top
- Google your product name and see if you are on top
- Look at the quantity of leads you get
- Look at the quantity and quality of clients you get
12. How to create messaging and communications for your niche
1. Start with an urgent, important, expensive problem
- Choose 1 pain, frustration, or fear.
- Find the motivation to solve the problem by asking why 5 times.
- Clients needs to be motivated to buy.
- Define the currency to measure results.
- Use their lingo.
- Example: I only work with established chiropractors that are very motivated to go from Point A to Point B in the next 90 days.
2. Talk to people with the problem.
Talking to people one-on-one is essential to really understand the problem people live with. Very often is better to listen, and come up with what the client really need, versus want to prescribe themselves.
3. Come up with a product that provides a solution to the problem.
15:46 Product examples: Business coaching
19:18 Product examples: Filming company
The solution will help your clients achieve their goals, desires, dreams and aspirations.
12. Pay Someone to help you.
1. Key Person of Influence, Dent Global.
Dent Global has an accelerator program helping small business owners find their niche through their 5P Program. Pitch, Publish, Products, Profile and Partnership.
How to rate your progress as a Key Person of influence in your niche.
The KPI Scorecard is a quiz you can take to see where you fit in your niche
- Take the free KPI Scorecard
Listen to Taki Moore talk about picking a niche for coaches. This is valid for other businesses too.
- Already in motion (Pain and Urgency OR irrational passion, OR Money made or money saved)
- Easily reached (like Architect)
- Proactively searching
- Already Spending Money
- You Past & Your Passion
3. Fletcher Method. A Course For Coach, Agency and Consultants
The Fletcher method has tools to find your Perfect Avatar and your target market. It's part of their online course that covers much more.
Watch the Coach, Agency or Consultant LaunchMap Webinar