Niche is nice
Which is better? – To be a mile deep expert in a tiny field and OWN your space or to have a little something for EVER opportunity?
We now know from Marketing experts that niche is nice and mass market is madness – so why do we continue to keep a wide offering and refuse to define and refine our target audience?
The answer unfortunately boils down to FEAR. We feel scarce and afraid to shut doors, close avenues and say no (the freelancer’s least favourite word.)
Bad news for Generalists
When you are the… One Stop Shop / We do Everything / The Answers is YES, now what is the question?… you are falling into what Marketing Guru, Seth Godin describes as the accelerated race to the BOTTOM. If I am buying from you and you have promised me everything you cannot be the best at everything, you cannot be an expert in all matters and may be (here the doubt comes in) you are not the best in anything – the buyer then repositions you as the commoditized Generalist. The cost of this relegation is that you will now be judged and purchased on one criterion alone – Price – How CHEAP are you? A secondary question may be, “How fast can you spray your service in my direction?”
NICHE is the way
Moving your position up from competing with a pint of milk or 500 envelopes is the right move. You undoubtedly have unique qualities, a fascinating story and a set of skills that a specialist audience will adore. Now is the time to figure what those professional skills and attributes are (See the previous post 2. on Identity.)
Defining your niche and optimal customer may sound like a dating game, and there is a reason for that. We are looking for a match made in heaven where each party contributes something extraordinary to the other and creates a Gestalt where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Imagine the ideal delegate sitting in your classroom. Based on your past experience. What level of seniority where they? Do you connect well with energetic youth? Tough middle managers? Wise seniors?
Where do you do your best work? Where is the bridge strongest?
Do you like to fish in foreign waters or stay close to home? What is the industry that has most to gain from your experience? AND, What circumstances must the ideal delegate be in to benefit most from your training and knowledge?
When you have worked out the optimum profile for your participant, then it may be time to test your results – When you next have this profile sat in front of you – stretch your training wings and go for it – pump in the energy and see what happens – are you dancing an elegant tango with the RIGHT person or are your shins getting bruised and you are dancing awkwardly and cannot wait for the music to end?
When you have proven to yourself that these are the people you can help most and that this “tribe” brings out the very BEST in you, define the spec. and work out where to find more of them – Small and medium sized enterprise – SME, Public Limited Company – PLC INC. or is it a group of community volunteers working with young adults. Define your space.
You have the right chemistry with this subset of training participants. Now it is time to measure their GAP. Where are their lack, fear, ignorance, unskilled zone, scarcity, and needs, wants and desires?
“I am afraid of my lack of soft skills and NEED training now!”
(In the world of training you will normally win when you identify with a group that lacks health, wealth, time, confidence or technical knowledge.)
Next – get out the binoculars and study your chosen tribe. Research them as if your life depends upon it. Your livelihood certainly does. What are their habits? What language do they speak? How do they learn? What Social Media Channels are they consuming? Where are they finding their meaning?
One trainer described this process as creating a spy’s “legend” – building up a profile that an undercover operative would use – a CIA NOC agent needs to know the terminology and behaviours of the target. The research is remarkably similar to your market research exercise – Thought – Does this mean that spies will make good trainers?
Now you have learnt their ways it is time to speak their language, inhabit their most frequented space and join in the conversation.
Are they on LinkedIn chatting away in Groups? Are they sending wild nothings over Snapchat? Whatever and wherever, here is your chance to start a dialogue, talk about outcomes, fears and everyday frustrations. The conversation can then expand to dreams, pitfalls, mistakes and opportunities and, before too long you will be established as a named trainer, coach, mentor, critical friend and worthy voice in their community.
Never go back
When you have defined your niche market and ideal customer – Please don’t be tempted to put your rod back in the water and catch other fish. Stick to what you know and become “the essential XXX trainer”. Good luck with training in your niche and being an expert in front of your ideal customer.
For more ideas on how establish and grow your Independent Trainer Business we invite you to join us for the Independent Trainer Consultative Selling Webinar 3 – GOING FOR GROWTH, on 5th October 2016, 6PM London time, 7PM Paris time. Register now at;