How niche is too niche? And, how niche are you?
I know that's a lot of niches in one sentence! But it’s such an important topic that it deserves that many ‘niches’!
Any of you who listen to my podcast regularly or read my content will know that I am a massive fan of niching.
But it strikes me that a lot of people think they have a clear niche, but when I check them out, they don't. They tell me about their niche but when I check their website or social media content, they don’t show up as clearly focused on the niche they claim to be in. Why is this? Well I think they are hedging their bets
So, let me remind you why I think having and commiting to your niche is so important.
Here’s a glance at this episode…
What does it mean to have a clear niche?
Why understanding your niche is important
Advantages of having a clearly defined niche
Tips in figuring out your niche
How to stand out from the crowd to more easily reach your target audience
Reasons why you must stay committed to your niche
The impact of broadening or narrowing down a niche
The difference between a generalist and a specialist
How my niche has ebbed and flowed over the years
Four ways you can segment your niche
What is Anthony’s advice to his younger self
“When you have a clear niche. It means you can produce products and services that you know your audience wants, rather than making a huge mistake of selling products that you think they need.” - Rob Da Costa
“When you have a clearly defined niche, you can also REALLY understand your ideal target customer and their specific needs, challenges, pains that your product or service can solve.” - Rob Da Costa
“..niching is definitely one of the ways where you can minimise the pool of your competition and get much more laser-focused on who your ideal target customer is.” - Rob Da Costa
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How niche is too niche? And, how niche are you?
That's a lot of niches in one sentence, but that's why I want to talk about them in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.
In running my Agency Implementation Group Coaching call this week, we had a conversation about how committed everybody is to their niche. It's a really interesting topic, so I thought I would dive into that in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.
So grab a pen, think about how niche you are, protest your niche and let's get on with today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.
Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob Da Costa.
Any of you who listen to me regularly or read a lot of the content I post through my email list on my blog and on social media will know that I am a massive fan of niche or niching if you are in the U.S.
But it strikes me that a lot of people think they have a clear niche, but when I check them out, they don't. This often happens at the prospect stage when I'm preparing for that call. They've answered some questions in advance because they follow the qualification process that I teach my clients. I've got some information about them, including their niche. But then when I go and check them out on their website or on social media, they're not really showing up clearly in that niche.
So it got me thinking, how committed are you to your niche? This was a discussion that we had in The Self-Running Agency Implementation Group call this week, and it was a bit eye-opening for quite a few people. That’s why I decided to record a podcast about this today.
Now, I've recorded podcasts about niches in the past, but let me remind you why I think the mission is so important. So right now we are in late 2021 and the last couple of years have been really challenging, and I think those agencies that have done well have managed to keep serving their audience.
But my question is, how can you really serve your audience if you don't understand them really well? And if you don't have a clear nation in more of a generalist, then it becomes much harder to really understand your audience. When you have a clear niche. It means you can produce products and services that you know your audience wants, rather than making that huge mistake of producing products that you think they need. This is that whole. Are you selling painkillers or vitamin pills to your clients? A painkiller is something that's going to get rid of their pain right now, while a vitamin pill is something you know will be good for them, but it won't get rid of their pain. It might stop them from having that pain in the future. But right now, what the client wants is a pain killer, and that means producing products and services that you know your audience needs rather than the ones that you think they want, either vitamin pill.
An obvious point here is that a niche provider will always be able to charge more than a generalist. If you needed knee surgery, you would go to a knee surgeon and not your GP. Then, if you had to pay for that surgery, obviously, the knee surgeon would charge a lot more money. When you have a clearly defined niche, you can also clearly define your ideal target customer, your customer advertises your customer persona and really understands their specific needs, challenges, pains that they have that your product or service can solve.
When you understand that you can create truly differentiating USPs, unique selling points as opposed to those cliches such as ‘We go the extra mile,’ ‘we really care’ and so on, which, of course, everybody would say. Then when you've done all of that, it means that you can create really clear marketing messages and powerful content that really hits home. Your goal with your outbound marketing is for your ideal target customer is ‘To read it and go blind me,’ that person is reading my mind. That's exactly what's going on for me now, and that leads them to think, ‘Tell me more,’ which looks like reading the content, clicking on a link or even booking a call with you.
Now I'm not going to go into too much detail about how to create your niche. You can download a copy of my book, which I put in the show notes, which digs into an itching in more detail.
But broadly speaking, your niche is the intersection of where you're most profitable, what type of customers do you get the best results for, and what work do you most enjoy doing. Then when you've worked out that niche, you need to be really committed to it. This is the question that I asked and brings me back to the kind of core title of today, which is a lot of people say their niche but they don't really 100% show up about that. All the outbound communications don't necessarily show that niche. As I think that it's because people are kind of hedging their bets. Intellectually, they get the idea and the value of niche ng but at the same time they've got this little voice in their head going, ‘Yes, but if you niched you're going to lose opportunities.’ But if you believe niching will make you lose more generalist’s opportunities, then let me tell you that quite the opposite is true. Because when you have a clear niche, your ideal target customer will be able to more easily find you. And of course, as the specialist, you're going to be able to charge higher fees as I've already said.
Most of us operate in a really crowded market, whether you're a PR agency wherein you provide SEO or PPC services, you're a web design developer or a graphic designer or a content marketer or full-service agency, or even a coach like me, we are all in really crowded markets. We have to find a way of standing out.
Now, standing out can't be because you're cheaper than everybody else or because you promise ridiculous levels of service. Unless your completely online based company has no interaction with customers because being cheaper is never going to make you profitable. So you have to have other ways of standing out and standing out by saying ‘we go the extra mile,’ ‘we really care.’
As I said earlier is just cliches because I always think when you're trying to work out your niche, you need to ask yourself when I'm coming up with my proposition: ‘Would everybody else say this with all my competitors say this?” And if the answer is ‘Yes,’ which certainly they would be too, ‘we go the extra mile’ or ‘we really care,’ then it isn't something that makes you different.
Therefore, niching is definitely one of the ways where you can minimise the pool of your competition and get much more laser-focused on who your ideal target customer is. So, as I said, they can actually find you which is the best way for you to be able to reach your target audience.
Then, outbound communications providing value, demonstrating that you know what you're talking about, being very clear about who you serve to enable those people in the pool that you're fishing in to find you and reach out to you.
And that means once you've worked out your niche, being super clear very quickly on the first page on the home page of your website, being really clear in your LinkedIn profile, social media content, email marketing, blogs, guesting, webinars and all the myriad of many things that you can do. Are you always showing up as that specialist niche agency or are you hedging your bets because you think there might be some other fish that you can catch outside of your pool?
Let me tell you this when you win a business that is not in your core niche, it is always much harder to service because you don't really understand them as well as your ideal customer, and they don't really understand you. In order to service, those customers often lead to over-servicing which leads to stress and lack of profitability and no time to go and win those ideal clients.
So there are 100 reasons why getting clear on your niche, being committed to it is super important. Now you've got to work out how broad or narrow your niches are, and my advice is always to go as niche as you can and then broaden up over time. But obviously, there are some limits to that.f you were
If a web design agency and you might work with SME businesses, or marketing agencies doing their websites, you wouldn't want to go so niche to say that ‘We’re a web design agency that works with marketing agencies in Brighton,’ because you're going to limit your target audience to sort of maybe 10 companies. But you also don't want to be so broad by saying, ‘We're a web design agency that focuses on WordPress development,’ which is not a niche. That's just being a generalist in a very large pool. So that's a clue that you need to go more and more narrow.
When you have worked out your niche, how easy is it for you to find your ideal target customer? If I'm a WordPress website design agency, I'm not sure that it's that easy for me to find my ideal clients because they could be anybody and everybody. Now I know that I sound like I'm standing on my soapbox and being really passionate and preaching about this, but I can't tell you how important it is.
It's interesting when I asked this question to my 30 Self-Running Agency Implementation Group members and I said to them, ‘How committed are you to your niche?’ Then I work through some of what I'm sharing with you. A lot of people kind of raised their hand and said, ‘Yeah Rob, you've got a point.’ One of the other questions I got is, can you have multiple niches? And yes, you can, and sometimes they can even be disparate niches. But what you need to do is find a way to present that on your website, and you also need to find a story that links your disparate niches together.
But what you can't do is have so many disparate niches, like five or six disparate niches, because that just makes you a generalist again, and that sounds like you are hedging your bets.
What you can do is start narrow and flow over time. I’m in year 15 of running my coaching business, and I started out as a generalist coach. I failed spectacularly in the first two years of running my business. I really struggled. I didn't have compelling stories to tell big corporates. If I was talking to a small startup and I told them I work with a big corporate, they think, ‘Well, you can't help me, you won't get me.’
So I then realised I needed to niche. It was easy for me to work out my niche because I previously run my own agency. I decided to focus on the marketing agency sector. Over the next few years, that worked really well. That's my business took off. Then I was doing some work with a non-exact director who works with recruitment companies, and he started referring a lot of recruitment agencies to me. Suddenly I found myself with four or five recruitment agencies in my book, but it didn't kind of make sense to just say that I worked in the agency sector. And broaden out to say I work in the service-based business.
I'm just gonna put a time out in that story there to jump in and say that when you are niche, it doesn't mean you can't take on companies and clients outside of that niche. It just means that you need to make a very considerate decision if you can help them. If you think you can help them, they get you and you enjoy working with them, then take it on.
Back to my story, I had one of these recruitment clients. Then, I started repositioning myself to say, ‘Hey, I'm Rob Da Costa Coaching works with service-based businesses.’ After a year, I realised that I actually don't enjoy working with recruitment agencies that much. Sorry, any recruitment people who are listening to this. So, I stopped taking on work through that channel, and I refocused my efforts on the marketing agency sector. Then I narrowed it a bit more and said, ‘Actually, the place I really enjoy working and the place I feel like I can get the biggest impact.’ The quickest is working with smaller agencies.
So my target market now is creative marketing agencies with between one and 15-20 staff. That is where 95% of my clients that I do have 5% on the other side. Outside of that, there are the bigger agencies or even they're not in the agency sector at all. But as I said, I made a very considerate decision when I took them on. That is really how you should approach your niche.
Then, my question to you is if I went on your website right now, would it be really clear to me about your niche and your specialism? One of the points to say here is to remind you that you can actually split your niche in four ways. When we think about our niche, we always usually think about it by the sector that we serve, e.g tech or finance, but actually can split it in four ways.
Again, if you grab my copy of my book at the show notes, it digs into this in a lot more detail, but you can dig into it by the geography that you serve. So if I'm a web design agency, I would say something like, ‘We create websites for businesses in London.’ You can cut it by the industry or sector, which is the obvious one, ‘We create websites for gaming businesses.’ You can cut it by the deliverable, ‘We create e-commerce WordPress websites.’ Then you can also cut it by the problem that you solve. This is focusing on the outcome. We generate new business leads by improving your online presence through web development and SEO services.
Now it's very likely that you would combine one or two of those together, but I've tried to be clever here and combine all four of them just to show you how you can do that, and you would never do. This is a bit of a mouthful, but I'm making the point. ‘We generate new business leads by improving your online presence by developing e-commerce WordPress websites for gaming businesses in London.’
As I said, that's a bit of a mouthful, and you wouldn't combine all four. But I just want to remind you that when you're working on your niche, you can cut it in a number of ways. Back to my question, how committed are you to your niche? If I went and checked out your website, would it be clear about the niche that you're in? And if the answer is no, which I think for a lot of people it will be. Then I really challenge you to go back to the drawing board, redoubled down on your niche, be really committed to it and make sure that your website. Also, your outbound calm, such as your LinkedIn profile all show up as that specialist. Trust me, when you provide your niche you can charge more money, it becomes much easier to win clients and you stand out from your competition. Then, you shouldn't be shy about finding a niche. As I said, what you should really do is go as niche as you possibly dare and then think about broadening out over time.
Another point to bear in mind is that when you try to appeal to lots of people because you really want to hedge your bets, as you don't want to be a niche you try to appeal to lots of people. You actually end up appealing to nobody, and then the niche provider comes along and beats you in all the different areas that you are trying to win in.
So if you're frustrated that you're not winning business or you're going in to pitch, but you're not always winning it. If you're frustrated that clients that you're winning don't really understand you, then I could say double down on your niche and do some work on it.
Grab a copy of my book because it talks you through the steps of creating your own niche, and if you have any challenges with it, reach out to me. I guarantee that the niche agencies always do so much better than the generalists. I've very rarely seen any kind of agency. That's a generalist doing as well as the specialist agency. As I said, if you needed knee surgery, you would go to the knee surgeon specialist, not the GP and the same is true with your agency.
So I'm going to get off my soapbox now. I hope this episode has been food for thought for you. I challenge you to go back and check your website out, double down on your niche, and I'll see you next week for the next episode of the podcast.
By the way, if you enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving me a review on Apple Podcast. Also, please think about sharing this with your colleagues as well and really trying to reach more people. It’s one of the best ways I can do that is with your help to get the algorithm to show this podcast to more people. But other than that, have a brilliant rest of your week and I'll see you next week.