Finding Your Niche

By Brian Byrne     8th Nov 2019  

I’m currently doing an online course run by Seth Godin, and the goal is to find better clients. Seth appears in a series of short video lectures on various topics, and each one is followed by an exercise. As you might expect, a course run by Godin is pretty popular. There are participants from all over the world, from all sorts of industries, with varying degrees of experience. The exercises contain several questions and participants are encouraged to share their answers in an open forum. This conversation is where the magic happens—the shared insight and knowledge has been incredibly helpful. A common topic of discussion amongst the students is niching down, a strategy that Seth himself, advocates, “There’s no such thing as a niche that’s too small if the people care enough.” Some students are proponents, and others are not. There are fears and concerns stopping people from doing it, and there have been success stories too. It’s been a great debate, and I’ve learned lots, but what is it to niche down?

Niching Down
As business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers, there’s a risk that when we define our target market, we cast the net too wide. We believe that if our target is bigger, we have a better chance of hitting the bullseye. Leads will keep rolling in, and the sale will be made! The problem with that strategy is that by trying to target everyone, you end up targeting no one. There’s no focus to your messaging because the demographic is too broad. What you say on your website doesn’t resonate with anyone. It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff and shouting out to sea—no one will hear you!

Niching down is the opposite of that strategy. The story goes something like this—You target a specific sub-section of the market and focus your messaging towards them. As you work within the niche, you gain a greater understanding of the people you’re targeting. You get to know your audience intimately and as a result, revise your message accordingly. Because you know who you’re talking to your message resonates. You’ve become an attractive prospect—the niche has differentiated you from your competitors and the sales come flooding in. You’ve become a trusted partner, a specialist rather than a generalist. And who wouldn’t want to hire a specialist!

Aha Moment!
In one of Seth’s exercises, we were asked to list freelancers we’ve hired, the reasons why we hired them and the commonalities behind those reasons. As I put together my list, a few things became apparent. First of all, I employed all sorts of freelancers, privately, professionally and from a wide range of industries. I hired friends and family, I hired people I trusted, and I hired people that were referred to me. Two of the people I hired didn’t meet any of the criteria above, but they were specialists! It was a real ‘Aha’ moment and seemed to confirm what I had read about finding a niche.

I was attracted to them because they specialised in working with creatives. They used their social media channels to drip-feed helpful and insightful information, building authority and trust. As a graphic designer, the language they used resonated with me. It seemed like they knew what the pain points were for me as a creative trying to run my own business. To me, they became trusted partners, specialists I wanted to work with.

Looking for my Niche
Doing this seems like a scary prospect, that’s for sure. It seems counter-intuitive to narrow your target market. There’s a real fear that you won’t get enough leads, the market is too small, and you won’t get enough sales to pay the pills. But the proof is out there, and people I very much admire like Seth Godin, Jonathan Stark and Chris Do, are all advocates of this strategy. Find the market, narrow your focus, understand the customers, differentiate from your competitors, and more success will come your way. You get to be seen as a leader in your field, a specialist, who gets to chose the clients he wants to work with.

Now, I just have to go and find my niche!

Brian Byrne is a graphic designer and founder of Lands.
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