Getting Laser-Focussed: Choosing a Niche

When you first start your business, you probably have a whole range of skills and services you can offer. Whether it’s coaching, marketing, writing, video editing or other services, chances are that you can probably claim many different skillsets.

But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you should try convincing others to pay you to do it.

Imagine that you have a video that needs to look amazing, but you have no idea where to start. So, you Google some people who could help you and visit one of the results. On the home page it says that they edit videos, do web design, hire out DJ equipment, run life coaching workshops, and even wash your car for free if you live within a 30-mile radius of Mansfield.

How likely are you to choose this company to give your video the Hollywood treatment? Pretty unlikely I’d say – though the car wash is pretty tempting.

Been There, Done That

Ok, so that’s an extreme (and hopefully made up) example, but the point is, putting every possible service on your website comes across as desperate rather than convincing.

The truth is, in the early days my website did look much like that one – though I hadn’t yet come up with the free car wash idea back then. (Note to self.) I wanted my new venture to work out, and there were so many things I could do and people I could help. I was brimming with ideas and plans, if only someone would JUST. HIRE. ME.

When Andrew and Pete first reviewed my website, I was trying to talk to at least three different audiences. “We’re not clear about who you’re targeting here,” they said. “Why don’t you try choosing one customer and focusing on them?”

Gulp. Focus on one customer? And lose all my other prospective customers?

But with my 6 visits a month – and those were probably from my mum – I decided I had nothing to lose. After all, this is what these guys do, right? So, I took some time to narrow down my focus, and within a month, landed my dream client.

Finding Your Laser Focus

Everyone has a whole range of interests, skills, talents, and hobbies that we can do at varying levels of ability. But what you want to be focusing on is what you do best and what your customers want most.

But when you’re full of enthusiasm, how do you narrow that down?

First: Decide What

What are you going to provide to your clients? If you’re not sure what services to offer, a good technique to start with is using a mind map to write down all your skills. For each skill, create new branch and try to narrow it down even further. So if photography is one of your skills, you could drill down into HDR photography or pet portraits. If you’re a writer, what do you write best: short-form, informal content, a lengthy, sales-focussed white paper, or something else?

Once you’ve got that list, decide which ones you are best at. For the more modest people out there, this probably means people have complimented you on your work, or suggested that you could do that for a living. Maybe you just became known at work or amongst your friends as THE PERSON to go to for that specific skill.

Pull out as many of these as you can, and see if you can group them together at all. Some things naturally will fit well together, such as writing and editing. Others may not, but don’t worry if you can’t make many groups.

If you already have a group of services, is there any way you can rationalise what you already have into 2–3 offers? The key point is to not overwhelm your visitors with a bunch of potential proposals that may put them off.

Second: Determine Who

Next, you’ll need to think about the problems that people have that your unique combination of skills and experience can solve. If you’re a coach, who needs your help? Maybe it’s high-flying professional women who are sick of the corporate lifestyle, or maybe you offer nutrition and exercise advice to people struggling with autoimmune disorders.

Notice that these are very specific groups of people, instead of just people who want to start their own business or want to lose weight. And often, the people whom you will have the best insight into will be those who have had the same or similar experiences as you, whether that’s personally or professionally.

Think about what would make them search for someone like you to help them. What would motivate them to purchase or hire you? Do they not have enough time, or maybe they lack the expertise needed to complete a certain task? Everybody has problems, it’s just about finding the ones that you can solve and talking to that audience.

Tip: Andrew and Pete also talk about this in their Content Mavericks show, and once you’ve got this nailed, not only can you tailor your website, but you’ll also have the foundations for some great content.

If you need some inspiration, search for people and businesses who do the same things you want to do. Have they put together a compelling package of services that someone might hire them for? Would your target audience use something similar? And how could you modify their approaches to suit your skills?

Put It Into Practice

Once you know who you are talking to and how you can help them, you’re in the best position to make yourself irresistible to them. You’re not spreading yourself too thin trying to please every single person who may possibly visit your website if they accidentally mistype their search term. You’ve positioned yourself as an expert, not a jack-of-all-trades.

It takes time – and ultimately, courage – to pick a niche and go for it. But once you have your laser focus, you’ll be in a much better position than just hoping the right person will find you.

 

Tanya Preston is a Chartered Civil Engineer and word nerd who helps construction companies win more work with great content. She calls herself a technical copywriter and editor, but is fairly certain that’s a made up job title. Having come from a (very) traditional 9-5 job with no idea how to set up   let alone market   a business, she’s always keen to share her knowledge with others on their own entrepreneurial journey. You can find her at www.engineeredcopy.co.uk, or connect with her on LinkedIn  and Twitter.