The Problem With Niches
By Karyn Greenstreet
copyright © 2008, by Karyn Greenstreet. All rights reserved.
Mary called me and cried, "I need to find my niche!"
She had been told over and over again that she needed to find a narrow niche for her Life Coaching business so that she could be more noticeable among the pack of Life Coaches marketing to business professionals and managers.
But she had also been told that using words like "meaning" and "purpose" to describe what clients were looking for was over-used; all life coaches were using those terms and they had lost their power when it came to writing marketing text.
Here is my reply to Mary in regards to identifying her niche and writing her marketing text towards that niche:
Finding The Right Words
Remember, WITHIN the coaching industry, words like "soul," "meaning," and "fulfillment" are used constantly and we're used to them and don't think they're special.
But, OUTSIDE the coaching industry, people are just awakening to these words. They love these words. And people ARE looking for meaning and fulfillment in their lives. (Just because you are used to seeing those words everyday doesn't automatically make them powerless or boring.)
So you may be tired of hearing catch-words in YOUR industry, but that doesn't mean that customers aren't still searching for those very same ideas.
As a life coach, saying you don't want to market yourself using the words "fulfillment" and "meaning," is like saying you’re a dentist, but you don't want to have the niche of "filling cavities" because every dentist does that.
Sometimes your niche isn't just what topics you talk about with clients; sometimes your niche is the combination of what topics you talk about AND the people/groups you talk to.
Finding The Right Niche
The whole purpose of choosing a niche is so you can find a central place that potential clients congregate -- so that you can get in front of them to introduce your business via your marketing techniques. You can find "professionals" or "mid-level managers" or "upper level executives" in specific industry associations, magazines, websites, newspapers, peer groups, etc.
But say you want your niche to be "Hyper Ambitious Stress Coaching." There is no industry association for Hyper Ambitious people…how will you locate them?
Do you really want to be known as the "Hyper Ambitious Stress Coach?" (Do people really type in "hyper ambitious stress coach" into Google when they're looking for help?) It implies that you work with only people who are hyper-ambitious, and only stressed ones at that. There are plenty of "non-hyper-ambitious" professionals who are want to achieve great things and be successful (and are stressed), they just don't go overboard into "hyper" behaviors that create unbalance.
One caveat: labeling yourself the "Hyper Ambitious Stress Coach" is great for PR. The news media loves a specialist. But clients may not be looking for a Hyper Ambitious Stress Coach; they're just looking for help with stress, over-scheduling, high demands, etc. So unless you're going to get all your prospective clients via news media interviews, you might want to re-think that narrow niche.
Choosing a niche is not an exercise in finding a place where you have no competition. It's okay if you have competition in your niche: it shows there's a thriving market there.
Differentiation vs. Niche
If you're simply looking to differentiate yourself from your competition, then that's not done by choosing a niche market. Differentiation and Niche are two separate marketing steps. You can differentiate yourself based on
- your personality
- your processes
- your techniques
- your classes and products
- your background
- your experience
- your skill set
- your availability
- your fees
- your style
Differentiation asks, "Why would they buy from ME versus my competition?"
Niche asks, "Where will I find THEM so I can introduce myself?"
This entry in Wikipedia may help:
I'm not saying, "Don't go in that niche direction." What I am saying is this: if you define your niche too narrowly, you'll have a hard time getting in front of them with your marketing techniques. And along the way, you might not be following your own soul purpose.