The holiday season has officially passed and it’s time to start fresh — it’s time…
If you want to attract your ideal clients, and grow a business where you are able to deliver what you do best, and love most, you need to first define your niche. This is an all important first step that’s so easy to skip over, especially if you’re an action taker who likes to just put everything out there, and hope for the best.
One of the hardest parts about marketing is that a “hope for the best” strategy rarely works. It’s about being strategic about every part of your content, to build a message of trust, relationship and connection. This is important for every business owner but it’s especially important for a service provider who needs their leads and their customers to work with them, and trust them completely.
You will need to be the face of your business if you are selling services, because people choose service providers that they feel connected to. Forget the slick website, and the bells and whistles. This is all about your message, and how closely it aligns with the “you” they’ll get when they sign up to work with you.
If you know you need to work on being the “FACE” of your business, download our handy checklist to check you’ve got everything you need to make it easy and successful.
One of the hardest parts of marketing is taking time to really define who you are selling to, what you are selling them, and why they need it.
What if you decide you work with people over forty, but then you work with someone who is thirty-five? Or worse, in their twenties? Does this mean you need to change your niche? Or perhaps you work mainly on renovations, but you then have someone ask you to work on a new build? Do you need to add more options to your marketing? Do you need to change what you say?
Working out your niche is about making it easier for you to market your business to the right people. That’s it. It isn’t a contract legally binding you to working with people outside that “ideal mix” and you don’t need to mention anything extra you do outside your core services. This is about you working out what you need to talk about, and who you are talking to in the majority of your marketing activity. What we sow, we grow, and right now we’re finding that right mix for your business that helps you sow the right sort of content to attract the best type of customer for you.
Our natural inclination is for us to be as broad as possible, but it makes it harder to stand out. One of the best things we did at Identify was stop being a “one-stop shop” and focused on only offering the things we do best. Then we prioritised it down further, when we worked out that two of our core offers tended to lead to more work in the other areas of our business.
This year I’ve further narrowed it down who we’re working with. After working with a really diverse range of small businesses, we’re now primarily working with small business owners who have a “face” of the business who needs to be out there getting the leads.
It’s scary to narrow down. There’s a lot of fear that comes from choosing to not keep options open. But it’s far easier to become known for what you do best but the people who need you when you do.
There are a few things to be aware of when you are working on your niche
As a service provider, your niche will be closely aligned with who you are. Even if you have a team, service type businesses work best when the business is closely aligned with the business owner’s personality, experience and values.
It’s completely normal for your niche to evolve as you do as a person. Sometimes a business focus needs to change because you’ve changed. I’ve seen this with my clients, with one moving from a coach for Early Childhood to now working with neuro diverse teens and families. Another was a building company focussed on renovations who now do new builds.
While it’s great to use our life and experiences to help choose our niche, do remember that not every big learning or experience will always transition into the best niche for us. Sometimes it’s a learning that was just for us to experience, not a new idea for a line of business.
In working out how to best frame our offer, we need to think of how we’ll position ourselves. It might be we’ll come in as an expert, and either provide strategy, training or some of the doing for the customer. Alternatively, you might choose to be a motivator. This requires you to have some knowledge, but often not as deep as an expert.
If you are ready to offer your services, but have only been in your chosen industry for a short while, you can also think of yourself as a mentor, someone who might only be one to two steps ahead of their customers at one time, but the learning is fresh, and the excitement is motivating to your clients.
It doesn’t matter whether you are an expert, a motivator or a mentor. Each one will attract a different type of customer, and you’ll find there’s one particular one that tends to fit you better than another.
To define our niche, we need to look at what we have to offer, and how we could stand out from others. I normally suggest getting paper and pen out for this, mainly because I’m generation x, and find I need to write it down with a pen for my creativity to flow.
Spend time on each of the following four areas:
STEP ONE: Record all your experience
First write down all of your experience. Don’t limit yourself just to work experience. Think about your experiences in terms of places you’ve been, relationships you’ve had, defining moments of your life.
STEP TWO: Note your expertise
This might have some cross over with experiences, but here it’s really important to only talk about the areas you know you have a good level of competency, and know really well. Again, don’t necessarily limit yourself to work experience. We’re looking for potential combinations that you may not have considered before.
STEP THREE: Brainstorm your interest and passions.
These help define what you could incorporate into your content or may even help you define your niche by taking your expertise and bringing it to an audience who share the same interests as you do.
STEP FOUR: Write down all your weird
Don’t hold back. Find and note all the things that make you different from most. These help us find how we can stand out from other people in our industry. For instance a few of mine were my ADHD, my love of wearing fancy dress, and my habit of writing parody songs.
Using the information in all four areas helps us to find the best way for us to build trust with our ideal audience as it helps us more closely align our niche to ourselves.
STEP FIVE: Highlight the best bits
The next step is to go through the brainstormed list and highlight all the parts that best represent who you are, that most shows your authority and expertise and also any topics or information you would feel interested enough to talk about for any length of time. (If we’re bored with our content, your audience will be too)
STEP SIX: Write your niche statement
Once you’ve highlighted these key areas, we use them to write a niche statement that tells us who we are going to serve or work with, what we will specifically do for them and what results we’d expect them to get from working with us. For example, you might have once said “I help you organise your systems.” A more specific niche is “I help small business owners create effective systems that give them at least eight hours more time a week.”
Use this structure I help xxxx, do xxxxxx, and this gives them xxxxx (you might need to use slightly different words but this structure works)
STEP SEVEN: Keep it to yourself but USE IT
One of the biggest mistakes service providers make is then repeat this niche sentence to everyone who will listen. It’s not a golden ticket to roll out everywhere to magically attract your ideal customers. In fact I don’t plan to ever mention my entire niche statement to anyone else besides my own coach, and to my clients when illustrating this point. While we can definitely use it to influence our content, and make sure everything we say in our marketing is on track, we don’t need to put this sentence everywhere. It instead helps us shape our decisions on our branding, content, messaging and marketing.
If you know you need to get more of your ideal customers, and you know you’ve probably gone a little too broad, this process will help. If you want a more detailed breakdown of this including other examples, you can listen to this episode of the MAP IT Marketing podcast.