In my last blog post Why You Need a Niche, I explained, well, ah ……..why you need a niche. The reason is pretty clear: you can make more money.
Clear Niche = More/Better Referrals = More Clients
Here’s how to get started.
What Distinguishes You?
A niche is an area of expertise that helps you stand out and distinguish you from your competitors. It’s your profession/business (law, accounting, management consulting, investment advice, insurance etc) PLUS one or more of the following:
- Service (forensic accountant, turnaround consultant, Interim CFO etc)
- Industry (IT, Healthcare, Lawyers etc.)
- Client’s Target Market (business owners, affluent individuals etc)
- Business Size (number of employees, revenues, etc.)
- Geographic Market (within a city, within the US, worldwide, etc.)
- Problem (lagging sales, skyrocketing costs, employee turnover etc)
- Event (merger, new CEO, divorce etc.)
- Client Title (CEO, Owner, CFO etc)
Before deciding on a niche, ask yourself six questions:
- Do you have credible expertise in this area?
- Are you passionate about it?
- Will your colleagues understand what it is?
- Is it big enough to represent a substantial share of your business?
- Is it growing?
- How competitive is it?
If the answer to the Questions #1 – #5 is “yes” and the answer to Question #6 is “not very,” you may have hit pay dirt.
You May Need Only a Tweak
Finding your niche may be relatively easy if you’re already doing a lot of work in the area, anyway. With a little thought you can come up with right positioning and the right message.
Here are examples of professionals I know who have varied practices but emphasize a particular specialty:
|Benefits consultant||Employer Health plans|
|Trusts & Estates Lawyer||Elder law|
|Business Lawyer||Exit Planning|
|Financial Advisor||Divorced Women|
|Financial Advisor||Special Needs Children|
|Strategy Consultant||Family Owned Companies|
All of these professionals can and do serve other markets and provide other services. And their clients and colleagues know it. But they position themselves as experts in a particular area. That makes it a lot easier to get referrals.
You want your clients and colleagues to remember something unique about your offering. Otherwise, they won’t understand what you do and/or can’t distinguish you from your competitors.
Do Some Homework
In some cases, finding your niche (or niches) may not be that easy. It may take some work.
I once spent the equivalent of three full days with a client on this. We started with a half day brainstorming session reviewing his projects for the past five years. After that there was a lot of analysis and numerous phone calls.
But we did it. We found a niche he loved. It was highly profitable. It had growth potential. And he had lots of contacts in this area. Bingo!
The answer was hidden in a list of 30-plus projects. We dissected the projects to isolate key facts such as
- Type of Project/Project Description
- Demographics: Industry, Company Size, Client Title, Geographic Market, Company Market etc
- Client Problem/Goals
- Results Produced
- Value – Profitability, Enjoyment
- Source of Business – Repeat Assignment, Referral etc
When working with clients, I use a worksheet with over 20 detailed questions about their projects over the past three to five years. I ask the client to complete the worksheet and then we review the results.
With the worksheet, we find patterns that will help identify niches, networking venues, and referral sources. From there we craft a message and determine the best places to network and the best people to meet.
With a clear niche you can make the right connections ……faster.