“The only time I see a niche working in a coach’s favor is when it emerges on its own”
~ Steve Chandler
I want to share with you my best advice for those of you who have been struggling with the issue of niching in your business.
As business owners we’ve all heard the advice that we must niche in order to be truly successful. This can feel pretty disheartening for those folks who find the task impossible. I regularly work with people who feel like they should have a niche but, despite trying every niching exercise out there, find the whole thing entirely anxiety inducing.
Just to make sure we’re on the same page, a simple definition of niche that I like to use is this:
The problem you solve and the people you solve it for.
If you are in this situation yourself, read on for 5 things you can do to move forward in your business regardless.
1. Stop trying to force it
I’ve watched countless business owners trying to contort themselves into a niche that doesn’t truly fit for them. It’s painful to watch, so I can only imagine how painful it must be for the business owner.
When working with clients in this predicament, I usually start by inviting them to give themselves a break from trying to come up with the perfect niche.
I believe our true niche is something that evolves over time, not something that we can come up with by answering journal prompts, brainstorming or by doing a course or class on niching.
In my experience, your niche comes from the time spent, and experience of, working with people over the long-term. Our niche evolves when we learn who we most enjoy working with and which problems we are most skilled at solving. This isn’t something you can come up with in a vacuum. it comes from being out in the field, doing the work.
Forcing it, then, becomes a an exercise in futility. Perhaps you can relate?
2. Go deeper on your possible niches
Usually the clients I have, who are struggling to niche down, are in this predicament because there are multiple types of people and multiple problems that they can, and/or would like to, work with or are working with already. The idea of just focusing on one type of person with one specific problem feels impossible or undesirable.
But what if you could go deeper on multiple niches?
In my work with 1:1 clients, I’m often supporting them to run mini-campaigns around different problems and aimed at potentially different types of people. These campaigns are designed to get my clients into conversation with potential ideal clients.
The two main types of campaigns I recommend are gift session campaigns and market research campaigns. This is where you choose a specific problem and/or type of person (or person at a particular stage of the transformation journey) and create a campaign to call in precisely those people, either for a gift 1:1 session (or free workshop) or market research calls.
Back in my early days of being a Life Coach, there were various problems I had the experience and desire to offer services on. Themes included, having healthy relationships, living without alcohol, overcoming fear, achieving your dreams and so on. Niching at this point in my journey felt restrictive and uncomfortable. Instead of choosing, I put posts (like this one) out on social to call in people dealing with a specific problem, in doing so, I could gain even more experience with a particular issue, as well as uncover if I really did want to do that particular type of coaching.
In case you’re interested, I did work with a few clients on healthy relationships as a result of this enquiry but never felt a deep enough call to niche down to becoming a relationship coach. Later on when I tested out supporting people with business, I knew I’d found my sweet spot.
3. Review the reasons people are currently coming to you
When we don’t have a specified niche and operate more as a general practitioner, it can be helpful to look at our data to see who is currently hiring us and what types of issues are they typically bringing. There may be a completely mixed bag and that’s okay, but doing some work to uncover which of these you have enjoyed the most can give you useful information.
Let’s say for example you are a healer and work with all types of problems. You may get people coming to you for a wide range of concerns from anxiety to chronic pain and everything between. It can be useful here to consider which of the issues your clients bring feels juiciest to you?
When you see an intake form come in and you see what the person needs help with, do you feel excited and ready to go or do you contract and feel a slight sense of dread? Eliminating those issues that don’t light you up can be a step in the right direction of your niche.
In my business, for example, I love it when people share with me that they are clear on who they help and with what and they are great at taking action but need some support on what action to take to grow their business (strategy is my sweet spot). I don’t love it so much when people say that they know what action they need to take but want support to overcoming the resistance to taking the action. In fact, I’m likely to refer the latter out to an amazing business mindset coach I know because over the years of working with hundreds of business owners, I know that the mindset piece isn’t the one that excites me the most.
Now you might be thinking, but Caroline I don’t have any clients yet so reviewing intake forms isn’t on the cards for me. No problem, simply start with point number 2 and get yourself into conversations with with people you’re interested to connect with.
4. Create niched offerings
If you’re certain that niching down is not for you, you can bring the benefits and clarity of niching into your business by creating niched offerings. Let’s say you are a health coach who works with all types of people and all types of health complaints. There is nothing to stop you creating individual products and services that serve a specific niche.
This could be, for example, a 1:1 offering on gut health or an online course on chronic pain. It doesn’t mean you have to niche down as a gut health or chronic pain specialist but it allows you to offer products and services that speak to specific people and specific health concerns.
Whilst not ideal. because you are potentially speaking to completely different audiences, in the absence of a single niche, this can help you to make sales to specific groups of people when general health coaching might not be as compelling.
5. Give really specific examples in your web copy
When we don’t have a clear niche it can be hard to write web or sales copy that really draws people in. Remember most people are searching for help with their specific problem so they may be searching for information that is specific to their needs rather than general. One way around this is to give really clear examples of the problems and types of people you support with your work in your web copy and marketing.
If, for example, you are a life coach who supports all people with potentially all types of life stuff. This isn’t going to make for very compelling copy but if you can list out some very specific examples of life transformations you can support people to navigate such as quitting an unhealthy habit (like smoking), overcoming fears (like giving presentations at work), achieving goals (like starting a new career), having difficult conversations (like asking for a promotion or setting boundaries with an overbearing friend) then it helps people to see themselves in your copy. It helps them to better understand the specifics of what you can help with.
Niching is in essence about getting clear on who you can help and with what. You don’t have to just pick one issue and one type of person to be more clear in your business about who you can help, you can do it in the ways I’ve shared above. I hope that what I’ve shared shows you how you can start bring clarity to your marketing and offers even if you don’t have a tightly buttoned down niche.
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