I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked about niches. But I am sure the “Do I need a Niche” question is one of the most common conversations with newer coaches. So after seeing countless coaches struggle with this dilemma, and helping hundreds of other coaches successfully overcome their concerns, find a great niche that aligns with their calling, experience and strengths, and set up simple systems to attract a steady stream of their ideal clients – I offer these thoughts to help clarity this topic, so you can make a good decision as to what is right for you.
What’s a Niche?
When we talk about having a niche for your coaching practice, we are simply talking about having a focus for your marketing. It is about being really clear about who your ideal clients are, so you can know where they hang out, what they care about, and how to best talk to them about their problems/challenges/changes they want to make, in a language they understand.
Having a niche gets you away from the frustrating and fruitless exercise of trying to describe coaching to people who aren’t interested in it or can’t afford you. Having a niche allows you to focus your marketing on people you understand and care about. It allows you to talk to them about topics they are interested in. So to bottom line this, having a niche makes your marketing and practice building life a whole lot easier. (Literally, it can be the difference between starving away in obscurity and enjoying ease and success in your practice.)
Most Common Niche Myths
If I commit to a niche I will be selling out and working with people or topics I don’t enjoy.
Quite the contrary, a great niche is one where you feel called to work, where you know you can make a good living, and where you know the marketing is easy for you.
If I choose a niche I will get sick of working with only group of people on one set of challenges.
Choosing a niche does not mean you will only work with one group or one topic. You can still coach whoever you want. You can still choose to develop other niches. Even within any particular niche you get a wide diversity of people and coaching challenges. Choosing a niche is simply a decision to be more focused with the time and effort you put in your marketing, so you end up attracting more of your ideal clients.
I have a niche. I am a life coach, or business coach, or executive coach.
These generic titles are way to broad to meaningfully communicate benefits in a language that many potential clients appreciate or value. Also, in these very broad meta-niches it is exceeding hard (almost impossible) to stand out, get noticed and get hired.
When To Niche?
If you are just starting out, you don’t need to worry about a niche for a while. If you have one, great; but if you don’t know what your niche is yet, don’t worry. In fact, I believe it is unwise for many coaches to select a niche too early in the process of building their practice. You may not know who is particularly attracted to you yet and you may not know how deep, enjoyable, or sustainable a particular group of clients might be.
A true and very productive niche is something that evolves over time. It can take months to really brand and position yourself firmly within a niche. If you are just starting out and want clients quickly, my best advice is to focus your marketing on the people and opportunities close at hand and let your niche, if you choose one, develop in due time.
Can I Succeed Without A Niche?
If you are well trained as a coach and put in the requisite ongoing marketing efforts, it is possible to coach without a niche. However most coaches experience significant advantages in focusing their marketing efforts towards a particular set of clients. In other words, if you choose the right niche – that is a great fit for your passions, expertise and personality – for a given investment in marketing you will receive a greater return. And as the profession of coaching grows it will be even more important to have a niche.
Better to Be A Big Fish In A Small Pond
The main rationale for choosing a niche is that if you focus on a particular group—who understands and values your expertise—you can become a well-recognized big fish in a small pond. Further, because you know their particular challenges, the solutions they are looking for, the lingo, and habits of your target niche, you can focus your marketing efforts and achieve better returns for a given marketing effort. Ultimately, as you become established in a niche, more and more clients will come to you.
Practical Example Of The Benefits Of Having A Niche
To better understand the benefits of having a niche. Let me give you a practical example. Let’s say you have ten years of experience working in small business. If this was true, you would know the challenges that small business owners face. You would know how to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. You would know what associations or trade fairs they go to. You would know the periodicals they read. You would talk their language. And most importantly you would know how to package and price your coaching services so they were seen as an attractive solution to your niches’ most common problems. Finally, you would appear a much better choice to the members of this niche, than another coach who did not have the same depth of experience.
Also, knowing who your ideal clients are would allow you to write your website content so it resonates with them. It would allow you to carefully choose keywords that would ensure that magic combination of lots of traffic, but not too much competition, so your website is seen by hundreds if not thousand of your ideal clients each month. You would also know what social media and networking groups you might want to join. You would know what periodical or forum you might like to write for. You would know which conferences to go to. etc.
In short, a good niche would allow you to be far more effective with your marketing, and build a successful practice much quicker.
(Note – In this example I referenced a niche that the coach had some experience in. Drawing on your past experience can help you find potential niches. However, I know dozens and dozens of coaches who chose niches that they did not have a great deal of experience in. This works just fine as long as you do the research to truly understand this group of people and what their biggest challenges are.)
The Biggest Challenge
Inevitably, the most common stumbling block I see with coaches building their practice and finding a great niche is internal. Almost all of us have a bunch of limiting thoughts and assumptions about our readiness; to coach, add value, step into the spotlight, succeed, etc. And these conscious and unconscious thoughts can distract us, erode our courage and otherwise keep us in the backwaters of our dreams. So, just because you are a coach, do not think you are immune to this. Get the support you need from your colleagues or your coach to move past all this stuff and find out where you are meant to be.
If You Need A Little Help
This finding a niche thing is something that I have been; researching,talking about, writing about, and assisting other coaches with, for over 15 years. I know the shortcuts and I know the dead ends.
If you are committed to build a successful practice and know time is money, simply email me to set up a chat and I can explain how I work on a 1 to 1 basis to help you find a great niche quickly. (For most coaches we can identify, confirm and get set up to market to a good niche in between 2 and 6 sessions.)
Or if you are on a slower timeline, or a tighter budget, you may want to check out my 6 FIGURE PRACTICE MENTOR PROGRAM.
All the best,
Affordable Business Development For Coaches
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