Sunday, February 11, 2007

Your Niche - Seven Premises - Part 2

Hey there,

In the last blog I spoke about the importance
of identifying your niche.

Many thanks to all of you who sent such
appreciative emails. I hope you like this one
as much.

This week, I'm going to speak about . . .

Seven Important Premises About Identifying Your

Yes. People often freak out when they are asked
to identify a niche. Of course, the reason that
most people freak out is because they assume
they have to change everything about their
business right now. They are terrified that they
will have to change their logo, their font choice,
they’ll have to dump most of their current clients,
reword all of their marketing materials and website,
and divorce their spouse etc.

So, as you go through this virtual workshop let’s
build on these assumptions . . .

FIRST: You can be explicit without being exclusive.
just because you’ve picked a niche doesn’t mean that
you can’t work with people outside of it. Let’s say
you’re a massage therapist who focuses on pregnant
women. That doesn’t mean you can’t also massage men
or elderly women - it just means that you aren’t
targeting them. It means that the bulk of the people
you attract will be within your niche, but you will
still attract other folks who don’t fit your niche -
just because they like you, happened to hear about
you first, or were recommended by someone they trust.
That’s fine. There’s no need to turn them away.

SECOND: A niche can be phased in. You don’t need to
try to turn everything around overnight. In fact,
that’s likely a bad idea. Better is to adopt an
attitude of ‘playing’ with some niches. You can
identify a few niches that you think might be a fit
and attempt different promotions to each. When you
find a niche that feels really wonderful (and meets
the criteria I’m about to show you), you can try more
promotions and those promotions can expand to become
the bulk of your business. Of course, the more you
focus and commit to a niche - the more it will expand.

THIRD: A niche may take a while to identify (and that’s
okay). Think of clarifying your ideal client as a long-term
process rather than an event. You’ll be able to answer some
of the questions in this virtual workshop easily. Others
you’ll need to sit with; some for a few weeks and some for a
few years. That’s the truth. Most people tell me that when
they stumble across their niche - and stumble is really a
good word - it’s like a light bulb going off and they think,
“Why didn’t I see that before?” Because they couldn’t. It’s
a process.

Since the niche is so connected to our nature - to who
we are as people - it lifts up all of the places we’re
not clear on our nature, not clear about our passions
and our purpose. It can feel like such a huge decision.
The reality is that we humans aren’t so narrowly
specialized or defined as we are asking our businesses
to be sometimes - we fear giving up on parts of ourselves.
But remember, that your business is not who you are. It
will, by necessity, be more narrowly focused than you are
as an individual. That’s okay.

Before you even begin to look at any of these materials,
please take 3 minutes and go read the following article
by Robert Middleton . . .

FOURTH: You’re already losing people: perhaps the
greatest fear that comes up for people when asked
to identify a specific niche is that they will lose
potential clients. This is true. But consider this.
You already are. You will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER
be attractive to everyone. Impossible. If you try to be
everything to everybody you’ll just become nothing to
everybody. You’ll become generic and thus invisible. No
matter what strategy you’re using right now, you’re
already losing people. Some people love it and others
are turned off by it. That’s not a problem. The real
question is: who do you want to attract? And are you
doing everything you could be attractive to them?

FIFTH: Starting specific is better than starting
general. Imagine a funnel. At the top is the whole
marketplace. Everybody. At the bottom is a single
person. Now obviously, trying to reach everyone at
the top won’t work, but a single person at the
bottom can’t sustain you either. What to do. Most
people come from the orientation of, “okay, let’s
start general and only go as specific as we have to.”
I’m suggesting an opposite orientation - starting at
the very specific, targeted bottom and only going up
as far as you absolutely have to. Start with a very
defined target and only widen as much as you need to.

SIXTH: Don’t underestimate the size of your niche.
Most entrepreneurs do. You don’t just have to appeal
to the hardcore, ‘true believers’. Sure, that’s who
you might be most attractive to, but you can also
reach those who are ‘on the road’. Plus, as you grow,
you may need to tinker your marketing to reach a
slightly broader niche. Now, if there’s enough hardcore
folks to meet your needs then that’s fine, but sometimes
people make the mistake of thinking, “oh there’s not
enough people who are into ______.” Well, maybe not as
a full time lifestyle, but there’s probably a bunch who
are interested. The weekend warriors of camping for
example - they’re not ‘hardcore campers’ - but maybe
you don’t need them to be.

SEVENTH: It’s up to you. It’s your damned decision.
Don’t let any marketing or business consultant tell
you otherwise. Yes, there are things you can do to
pick a winning niche - and, a bit later - I’ll show
you some criteria that I think you’ll love that might
make your decision making process much easier - but,
hey, this is your life right? All sorts of people will
have all sorts of ideas about what’s best for you and
your business. And, who knows, some of them are probably
right (the bastards). But some are wrong. Your life and
your business = your decisions. You’ll make some mistakes,
but at least let them be your mistakes, not someone else’s.

* * *

In Part 3: we'll look at eight characteristics of a great
niche. It's a really useful checklist you can use to see
whether the niche's you're considering are worth the effort
(and if your current niche isn't working why not)

In Part 4: we'll look at 9 ways that you might go about
identifying your niche (some of which are really obvious but
most people never consider them).

In Part 5: We'll look at how to describe your niche in a single
compelling sentence.

In Part 6: You'll get a tonne of real life examples of niches.

I hope you're well.


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