You’re not convinced by this whole “pick a niche” thing. Surely if you want plenty of clients (and you do!) then it makes sense to appeal to everyone, so you have a wider pool to draw from? How can focusing on reaching less people achieve your desired outcome of having more clients?
Here are 4 reasons why it’s worth overcoming resistance to niche:
#1 – You save time and energy
It’s pretty exhausting trying to be everything to everybody. You put in so much effort, yet the clients and the money don’t flow back reciprocally. You start to feel depleted and self-employment isn’t as fun as you’d hoped it would be.
No business on this planet can serve everyone, no matter how much you might like to. You don’t have the time, the energy or the resources to provide your products and services for everyone.
There’s a limit to how many people you serve so it might as well be you who decides how to ration your time so you can use your energy optimally and so your efforts bring you the most fulfilment.
I’m the opposite of green-fingered. Plants tend to die in my care, but I learned that to give carrots a good chance of growing, as with many plants, you have to thin out the seedlings.
If you plant a lot of seeds and most of them grow, they’ll be competing with each other for space and nutrients. If you leave them like that, they won’t have enough chance to develop and they’ll fail to grow into juicy, healthy carrots.
But if you pick out and discard some of those seedlings, you give those remaining a better chance to thrive. This can feel brutal because you’re killing living things but it’s absolutely necessary if you want any of your carrots to make it. You sacrifice a few for the greater good.
When we translate this into the business context, it’s about knowing which groups of people are going to benefit most from your attention and commitment, and then focusing your resources wholeheartedly on them.
#2 – You help people feel seen and special
I recently met a Pilates teacher and asked who she worked with. She smiled and said, “Oh all sorts, everyone.” Her enthusiasm was there – but her reply disappeared into the ether and had no impact. I couldn’t do anything with that information. I couldn’t feel excited that she would be able to help me and I couldn’t refer anyone to her.
If she’d got a little more specific and said, “I help people who sit behind the computer all day to increase their flexibility” or even “I help loads of different people, for example those recovering after injuries” – that would at least have given me more of a picture.
The vague statement, “I work with everyone” is floppy, shapeless. You could say it day in, day out, and potential clients will miss it. They won’t feel spoken to or seen because “everyone” doesn’t connect with them, personally.
When you say you work with everybody, the result is that nobody feels special. However, when you get specific, your communications suddenly come alive and you’ll start witnessing frequent light-bulb moments where people say, “Wow, I feel you know me, you’re speaking directly to me” or “Oh, you have to help my friend/mum/daughter.”
#3 – You get more free publicity
Being specific about who you work with helps you to become well-known for the particular help that you offer, and that leads to you being sought out as an expert.
A fellow coach, Beth Follini, has one of the clearest niches: she specializes in helping women in their late twenties and early thirties decide whether or not to have children. And because that niche makes her stand out, she has been sought out by Woman’s Hour on the radio, by The Economist and by Red Magazine, to name a few.
If you’re a general coach or general designer, what would the media come to you for? You need to find a particular groove so that when someone in the media needs an expert in that groove, you’re the go-to person. This, of course, can provide you with excellent, far-reaching, free publicity.
#4 – You get more clients
Here’s the secret: Declaring a niche doesn’t stop others outside your niche from finding you, and it certainly doesn’t stop you from working with them, if you want to.
Defining your niche may not be as limiting as you think. Moreover, when you become clear about the main focus of your business, you become visible and stand out as a beacon. And even if your niche isn’t exactly what someone is looking for, they may be attracted by your very beacon-ness! Clarity is attractive.
When I was seeking an editor for my book, I asked a self-publishing expert, Joanna Penn, for her recommendations. She guided me towards Steve Parolini, the “novel doctor”. My book isn’t a novel but that didn’t deter me from hiring Steve – and I doubt Joanna would have found Steve, in the thousands of editors out there, if he hadn’t been a beacon for novelists like her.
Forget about forever. Throw out the myth that you have to commit to your niche for a lifetime. Take a stand for whoever you feel most drawn to now. Pursue one path with diligence. But also remember that it’s absolutely possible (and sometimes preferable) to change your niche, even quite significantly, at some point down the line.
About the Author: Corrina Gordon-Barnes wants to live in a world where marketing is fun, clients turn up easily, and money flows to those who do work that helps and heals. As a certified coach, marketing teacher and self-employment champion, she’s been featured on MindBodyGreen and LifeByMe and and published in The Ecologist, OM Yoga, Diva, and The London Paper. She’s author of Turn Your Passion to Profit: a step-by-step guide to getting your business off the ground.