Today, I want you to think differently about your niche, so you can be known as the go-to for that category.
A niche is a specialised segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.
If you’ve been coaching for a while or recently started, I’ll bet my house you’ve asked yourself:
“What on earth is my niche?”
And if you’re still struggling, you’re not alone.
Defining your niche is like solving a puzzle.
For most coaches it’s one of the biggest challenges they face in setting up their practice.
However, before you can answer that, the question behind the question is:
“What makes me distinct?”
The advantage of knowing this is you’re able to create what makes you recognisably different no matter your niche.
Figuring out what sets you apart is your secret sauce, that very few coaches possess.
Let’s jump in!
Avoid being better
Firstly, let go of striving to be better.
To be better means you’re trying to compete with what’s already out there.
It means you’re defining yourself in relation to someone else’s standards.
And even if you are better, you’re still playing within the same context and rules as everyone else.
Take Apple, the world’s most valuable niche brand.
Apple doesn’t want to be better than Microsoft.
By differentiating its products from its competitors, then patenting its unique designs and features, Apple enjoys brand loyalty and market share.
Take a bite out of Apple.
Your opportunity is to be distinct and double down on what makes you unique.
Go in the opposite direction
Letting go of being better, allows you to start thinking about being “distinct.”
Imagine you’re a Leadership Coach designing a new program.
A standard problem for executives might be, “How do I add value to my organisation whilst developing my role and purpose as a leader.”
Why pick that?
There’s a ton of programs already in existence addressing that problem.
Focus on something different. Speak to a different outcome.
For example, “Reverse mentoring – How to learn from those you typically lead.”
This leadership program involves flipping the traditional mentor-mentee dynamic on its head.
Where younger or less experienced employees serve as mentors to executives and senior leaders.
This helps to redefine their role and purpose as a leader to be more inclusive, innovative, and adaptive.
Spot the difference?
Stop banging the same tired drum around “leadership and development”. And start creating something different.
Here’s the big idea.
Whenever you see the same problem with the same solution, addressed to the same audience, in the same way – go in the opposite direction.
But, uncommon sense isn’t always common practice. Which is why people play safe.
Here’s how to niche down.
Step 1: Start broad
Start by asking yourself:
What area do you want to coach around… broadly speaking?
Consider the following:
- What is your calling?
- What are you passionate about?
- What makes commercial sense?
- What fills/drains you with energy?
- Where have you experienced transformation?
- Where do you have expertise and experience?
From your answers, scribble down 1-3 areas that feel a broad match.
Then choose one area that genuinely interests you and which has potential for a client fit.
You can always change it later and go through the process again.
“I want to coach around business”
“I want to coach around leadership”
“I want to coach around wellbeing”
Step 2: Problems and pain points
Next, make a list of the Top 10 problems or pain points people experience in your broad category.
For example, in Business one of the biggest hurdles is lack of clarity. Not having a clear goal or understanding of what you want to achieve.
In Leadership, it might be resistance to change.
Or in Wellbeing it might be managing stress and anxiety.
Step 3. Focus on 1 problem to solve
From your list of 10 problems, choose one to focus on.
Whilst there may be dozens of problems you could potentially help your clients solve, the key is to focus on one.
For me in business, the problem I help clients solve is “how to successfully launch and grow a coaching business?”
Step 4: Identify your specific audience
Now you have direction, you can identify the specific audience you wish to serve.
There are two principles here:
- Your audience: specifically, who you want to help.
- What you can be paid for.
- Who do you want to help?
- Why do they want your help?
- What do they need help with?
- What’s their level of experience?
- What outcome do they want to achieve?
If you try to cater for everyone, you’ll end up catering for no one.
In my practice, I could have chosen a broad cross section of people wanting to launch a business.
Instead, I focus on helping certified professional coaches build a coaching business.
This is a great filter to get clarity on my niche audience and vice versa.
Decide, focus and progress.
Step 5: 1 problem, 1 person
Now take the key problem you’re setting out to solve with your client and make a list of the Top 10 alternative solutions.
This is where your niche starts to come alive.
The goal is to steer clear of creating a niche that solves a popular problem with a popular solution.
Instead look for solving obscure, often overlooked problems with innovative, lesser-known solutions.
Think of the “Reverse mentoring” solution to leadership growth
- Identify the most unconventional solutions
- Consider which solution you’re best equipped for
- Determine which solution holds the greatest value.
Step 6: Refine your focus further
The essence of a remarkable niche can be distilled into one word: specificity.
Further narrow down your niche by considering:
- Industry (e.g for tech startups)
- Demographic (e.g rising managers)
- Location (e.g. for clients in Asia)
- Platform (e.g. for users on LinkedIn)
- Price point (e.g. premium services)
- Distribution method (e.g. in person)
- Unique problem focus (e.g., burnout)
The goal is to be so specific that your intended audience feels you’re speaking directly to them.
You’re making it crystal clear who your services are for – and more importantly who they are not for.
Have the courage to be bold.
Step 7: Define your niche
You’re almost there.
The secret to creating your niche is to choose a specific problem and create an unexpected solution.
The more precise the problem and the more novel the solution, the more you will stand out.
True differentiation, unlike minor improvements create niche categories.
To design a niche category, frame a new problem and solution provocatively.
Stop potential clients in their tracks with “That’s me! That’s exactly what I want.”
Become a trusted authority.
Name and claim the category.
> Executive Leadership
> Reverse Mentoring
> Learning from those you typically lead
Start by precisely framing the issue and naming the solution.
Niching down unlocks your unique distinction.
In seven steps, we’ve shown that being unique, beyond being better is the key to differentiation.
Success in niching down comes from having the courage and specificity to embrace what sets you apart.
It’s this mindset which will draw your clients in search of your unique offer.
Begin now by applying these steps to uncover and zero in on your niche.
Make it unmistakably yours.