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Some business experts actually believe that the number 1 mistake new business owners make is NOT niching down enough, and therefore speaking to a massive, unspecific crowd rather than a highly fixed group of people who would BEST benefit from their product or service.
But I get it! When you’re starting out especially, you want to get as many clients or customers as possible. If feels scary to try and focus in on a smaller group of people! Why would you want to exclude anyone? After all, customers equal profits which equals business health, right? Well, not exactly.
It wasn’t until I reached about the third year in business when I finally had the budget to rebrand and upgrade my website that I finally understood: I didn’t need EVERY single couple that’s getting married in Wisconsin to hire me. I needed 25 couples to choose me — just 25. Over 30,000 couples get married in Wisconsin each year, so I needed to focus on attracting less than 1/10th of 1 percent of those couples to know that I am the PERFECT photographer for them.
Recognizing that I wasn’t everyone’s photographer freed me up to speak super specifically to my DREAM clients without fear. It took my photography business to the next level because I was super clear on WHO I wanted to work with, and that led me down the path of more easily figuring out how to find them.
What could that be like for you? What could that mean for your business? We’re going to explore this notion of digging into a niche and I believe this can set you apart and move you forward more than SO many other top business practices. If you’re not sure if you need to drive down into a niche, or aren’t certain how to find the right niche, or just want to inspect your biz a bit to be sure your niche is the right target for YOUR goals and trajectory, this is your episode.
What is a Niche?
Niche is sorta this popular buzzword in the business world but what does it actually mean? In business, a niche is a specifically defined portion inside a larger category.
So let’s take the health and fitness world for example — that’s a giant category but a health coach may target a niche audience that’s interested in intuitive eating and mindful nutrition. You could even go narrower within THAT niche, and say you work specifically with women ages 25 to 40 who live within 50 miles of your geographic area and who are busy, working moms that are gluten free. DANG. You can almost picture that exact woman, you might even know her yourself, right?
You’re looking at more than just the service or product YOU offer. You want to dig into the people you want and are able to serve the most: what their pain points are, what their life experiences look like, and even down to specifics like their age and location.
Think of your niche as being an inch wide and a mile deep, meaning that you’re talking to a VERY narrow audience that fits a specific demographic and description. This helps you to craft everything from your website copy to your social media posts to your emails in a way that speaks to exactly who you want to serve. It simplifies everything about your messaging and marketing in a big way.
The “Blue Ocean Strategy”
Have y’all ever heard of the book and concept called the Blue Ocean Strategy? My bud Russell Brunson writes about this theory created by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne in one of his books, and it’s such a valuable and super interesting read about niching down and not being AFRAID to be different.
Essentially, you think about when there’s a shark feeding on another animal in the ocean, and all the other sharks swarm in and share in the meal, often frantic and competing to get their piece of dinner. That’s the RED ocean and the same thing happens in business… It’s when you see something working for someone else and do pretty much the same thing, crowding the space and having to fight to be noticed, when instead, it would serve you so much more fully to go somewhere else and find clear, blue water to be the only shark.
Doesn’t that sound so much more FREEING than feeling like you need to compete to have a voice and spending all your energy spinning your wheels trying to win over clients and customers and take them away from competitors? When you choose to exist in the blue ocean, you create the demand rather than fight over it and it allows this wide, deep potential for you to tap into because it’s less busy and loud than the red ocean. The blue ocean is expansive, vast, and powerful when it comes to profitable growth – and not to mention, a heckuva lot less stressful on a day to day basis to exist in that clearer water. No frenzied, cutthroat competition, no rules set by others to follow, and no splitting the demand with tons of other businesses.
Go to blueoceanstrategy.com to pick up your copy and dig even deeper into this strategy!
How to find your niche
Okay, so now you know WHY it’s so important to narrow your niche and reach, but how can you do it? It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for a while, it’s NEVER too late to dig into a specific niche. I’ve been mentoring business owners through COVID-19 and many are experiencing higher demand right now, which I honestly believe is because people are realizing the value of digital business now more than ever.
But the demand is almost starting to overwhelm some of them, and there’s this feeling of “what if this won’t last” which leads to saying “yes” too much and ultimately burn out, so I’ve been guiding them through determining whether everyone inquiring to work with them ACTUALLY fits within their target audience and thus within their niche.
- Ask yourself (these make great journal prompts, too):
- Who do you really WANT to serve?
- Is this opportunity in alignment with your goals and values?
- What parts of your business bring you energy?
- What sucks your energy?
- What is truly worth your time to do? Meaning, what fulfills your value AND moves the profit needle forward?
To take it a step further, consider writing a bio of your ONE ideal customer or client. Think about who you are already serving most commonly OR who you WANT to serve and are capable of serving. What characteristics do these people have in common? Those would go into your ideal customer’s profile. While you want to build this singular, specific person, the process of building his or her profile comes from digging into and pulling commonalities from those you already serve or those you hope to serve.
If you’re already in business, there’s likely been a client of yours that was your DREAM client. Build a profile around that ONE person. Answer those questions with that client in mind — I mean, suddenly, it makes it way easier to answer questions about their demographic, style, where they travel, how they engage online etc. If you haven’t had a dream client yet or you’re just getting started, think of who you would DIE to work with — even if it’s a celebrity or just a stranger on the internet. Build your ideal client around that person — that actual human being.
I’ve found for me when I can visualize an actual human being, either a past client or a dream client that I would LOVE to work with, it helps me actually grasp the importance of marketing directly to that one person and allows me to be way more specific with my marketing and messaging, thus making it more possible to succeed in a niche market.
The Big Picture
Finding your ideal audience and niching down doesn’t have to be this big overwhelming to-do. In fact, I think it can be a really fun and highly rewarding experience, and one that’ll reap you rewards for years and years to come. Not only will it position you as an expert in a highly detailed corner of your industry, but it’ll also make all of your marketing efforts so much less challenging.
You’ll know exactly who to speak to in your copy, you’ll know their exact pain points that you can solve, you’ll know how to interact with them and engage with them on social media and in emails and through blog posts. You won’t have to wrack your brain trying to think of what to say or how to help people because you won’t be speaking to the masses and all kinds of different people and problems – you’ll almost become friends with your ideal customer, knowing their ins and outs and questions and challenges, and knowing how to help them through it all.
And know this: not only are people willing to pay for specialized services, when you are able to serve as an expert, they trust you more which allows the experience to be rooted in letting you do your job well, likely leading to deeper job satisfaction.