I’ve recently had the pleasure of exploring working with a prospect who was in need of a niche to differentiate his new consulting business. The prospect was a strategic thinking former CEO of several successful startups that he’d built to 7-figures. He had done the right thing and hired an expert to help him figure out his niche. Impressed and wanting to help him succeed in his niching endeavours, I asked a few questions about how the expert was helping him do that. That’s when this blog was born. If you’re doing niching yourself or with the help of an expert, here are 3 most definite mistakes to avoid.
What Is It?
After all this time, I still feel compelled to spell out what a ‘niche’ is. It’s picking one focused target group and one specific problem to specialize in. Then this niche becomes the positioning of your business where you constantly communicate to that target, all the ways you can help solve the problem you’ve picked as your niche. To be clear, most business owners are nervous about niching because they believe that they’ll be pigeon-holed into doing just one type of work with just one industry but a niche is simply a hook to get into the sales meeting. Then, we can cross-sell them everything else they need.
Wrong Way #1: Guessing It
When I left my 18-year corporate career, I was shocked to see small businesses guessing at their niche. First of all, most didn’t even know that they had to niche and were in deep denial of having to do so to grow faster. Secondly, they had no clue how to pick a niche strategically. They simply threw spaghetti at the wall and tried to see what stuck. This cost them years and tons of cash down the drain with zero return. The biggest mistake in niching is to guess at it.
Wrong Way#2: Googling It
I once paid $25K for a strategy day with a marketing consultant to find my niche. Yes, I know it’s what I do for a living but I needed help doing it for myself. She came up with a brilliant strategy doing research on her computer. She Googled an industry that was growing in Toronto and told me to go after them. After 6 months of trying and failing to sell even a single contract, I gave up because the niching was off. I had to discover the hard way, what I teach each and every day. You should not be looking at secondary data (ie Googling it) to make a niching decision. You need to check with the market before actually picking a niche.
Wrong Way#3: Interview Current Clients
This one is a sneaky one because it looks like the right way to find information but it’s the wrong way to determine your niche going forward. Your current clients already know, like and trust you. They reflect the marketing you did to attract them to you in the past. They don’t reflect current market trends, needs and don’t provide unfiltered data about how you and your message are perceived by prospects who don’t know you. Sure, you can talk to current clients to create client retention programs but to create future niching strategy, it’s best to talk to near-strangers (people who know you from a past life or through someone else) to help you grow faster.
I hope you avoid these wrong methods of determining your niche. After all, your niche is what determines whether the money you spend on your marketing will actually bring any ROI or not. And in marketing, ROI is king.