It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? How could narrowing your niche actually broaden your reach?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a marketer say “But if I get too narrow, I might miss someone who will buy my stuff,” (or words along those lines), or “But I also work with…,” I’d be a wealthy woman. What’s interesting is that the people who most frequently utter those words are also marketers who are desperate to get better results from their marketing efforts.
Hmm. Seems like correlation could be meeting causation, don’t you think?
We’ve said it before – when you try to talk to everyone, you end up talking to no one.
Let’s look at one of our favorite examples.
How many dog trainers do you know or know of?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 14,000 people who claim “dog trainer” as their employment. The average annual wage across that group is about $35,000.
What if I were to tell you that one dog trainer built a million dollar business? It’s true. She did. And she did it by narrowing her niche.
Think about the whole world of dog training – everything from “sit” and “shake” to walking on a leash to “leave it” and so on. Then there’s specialty dog training – police dogs with various skills, therapy dogs, medical alert dogs, etc. And of course we can’t forget agility training. The dog training landscape is HUGE.
But this woman focused on one thing and one thing only – how to get your dog to come quickly when called. She built a training program around that one thing, and because she did it online – training the dog owners in how to train their dogs to come quickly when called – she was able to build a giant business in a very VERY narrow niche.
Side note – she also created a “blue ocean” for herself, as conventional wisdom is that all dog training is done in person, physically with the dog being trained, and she broke that paradigm by creating an online course for the dog owners. Nice! (If you haven’t read Blue Ocean Strategy, I encourage you to do so. It’s really great.)
By focusing on one very specific need, and targeting all of her efforts to solving that one particular problem, she was able to focus all of her content, all of her marketing, all of her outreach to one specific audience – the audience of dog owners whose dogs did NOT come quickly when called. Had she NOT done that… had she gone the route of every other dog trainer, she likely would be stuck in that “average earnings” category along with the other 14,000+ dog trainers in the US. She’d be trying to talk to everyone who has a dog. And she’d end up talking in general terms about general dog training stuff.
What does this mean to you?
Think about the problem you solve. The one, single, most important problem you solve. What is it? Be specific.
Now think about the people for whom you solve that problem. What are their characteristics? What sets them apart from the rest of the universe? How do you solve that problem for a SPECIFIC group of people?
You might need to grab a piece of paper and write this down, because you’ll want to drill down into this to get super-specific.
For example, let’s say you help people deal with conflict. That’s legit. But what kind of conflict? Family conflict? Workplace conflict? Relationship conflict? I get that you might be able to deal with all kinds of conflict, but for the purposes of narrowing your niche, pick the one that you most frequently find yourself working through with clients.
Okay, workplace conflict it is. Now, whom do you help resolve workplace conflict issues? Men? Women? Leaders? Executive team members? Again, maybe you can help them all, but we are NARROWING the niche here.
Got it. You help women in leadership positions identify and deal with conflict in the workplace. Now you can create content that speaks to that audience and that audience only.
But wait! Could you get even MORE specific? Are these women dealing with their own issues with conflict and need skills to better manage the conflict that they themselves experience? Or do they need skills to identify and diffuse conflict among the members of their team? Oooh, now you can get even more specific with your content and more narrow with your niche.
But why so narrow?
Carrying on with our conflict example above, you would most likely talk to women in leadership positions differently than you would to similarly-positioned men, based on certain societal constructs. Focusing on one particular audience allows you to create content that will speak to THEM – and to acknowledge the challenges that a particular group might have in dealing with a particular problem. Creating content that, in this example, appeals to women in leadership who want to improve their own conflict-handling habits lets you go a mile deep with your content.
Think about how you would talk about your business. Which do you think has more power? “I am a dog trainer.” OR “I teach people how to get their dogs to come quickly when called.”
Or how about these two – which is more powerful? “I help women business leaders handle and leverage conflict when it comes up for them in their workplace.” OR “I teach people how to handle conflict.”
If you simply want to talk to anyone about any type of conflict, you’d have trouble creating content that would truly appeal to anyone – because you could only go an inch deep to try to appeal to everyone. You’d also have trouble getting your audience to come to you. And, as I said above, when you try to talk to everyone, you end up talking to no one.
The big secret about narrowing your niche
When you narrow your niche, and you focus on one specific issue and one specific set of people who have that issue, you can go deep with the topic, as I mentioned above. You find more and more people who fit into that niche – BECAUSE OF YOUR FOCUS – so you’re broadening your reach. Easy peezy.
A very narrow niche also makes it super simple for those you help to talk about you, so you end up broadening your reach through referrals. Think about this conversation. “When my dog gets out the front door, I have a terrible time getting him to come back.” “Oh, you should look up Jane – she specializes in training dogs to come quickly when called.” See? So much easier than “Have you thought about getting a dog trainer?” – which could take Jane’s potential prospect and toss them right into searching the web for “dog trainers near me.”
Or this conversation with a woman friend, where she says, “I hate conflict. I don’t want to argue with my colleagues, and I feel like I can’t even make a point without them arguing back at me.” And you could reply “Oh, look up this person. She’s brilliant at helping women create new, empowering ways of dealing with the conflicts they run into in the workplace.”
But the big secret about narrowing your niche is that you’ll have other people – people you can legitimately help but who do not fit into that niche – BEGGING for your help with THEIR issue. And you’ll be in the enviable position of deciding whether you want to accept that work or turn it away.