You’re probably familiar with the idea of choosing a niche for your business. You might have heard it referred to as a ‘target market’ or ‘ideal client’ or ‘specialization’. But no matter what words you use, it’s an important concept in marketing any business.
When we’re talking about marketing, a niche is a group of people who share common traits, interests and needs. A niche as such isn’t a physical thing that exists, but rather something we create when we examine what those traits, interests, or needs are.
For example, say you have a strong interest in working with athletes. Weekend warriors, yogis, regular folks who just like to play tennis, endorsed athletes, or professional NHL players – you’re happy to see anyone who plays sports or has a busy, active lifestyle.
Let’s look at that fairly broad group of people through the lens of what a ‘niche’ is.
Examples of traits, interests and needs these people tend to share:
- Interest in fitness and health
- Tend to want to know more about nutrition and helping their bodies function at their best
- Have soreness due to working out
- Tend to be prone to injury
- Tend to plan parts of their life around training. For example, making time to train hard, booking trips that involve races, games, etc…
- Tend to be regular clients, as they need regular treatment to keep them going
- Really don’t want to hear ‘well you should stop playing/training/running’. They want solutions to help get them back in the game.
Great! So now you’ve got a clearer picture on who you’re trying to target and can use that information on your website, email newsletters, blog posts and brochures. Because you did your research, you already know what your target clients are looking for. So you create your marketing content to match!
So ok, that’s great, and it makes sense from a marketing perspective. But does it really help grow your business? And what if you don’t like the idea of having to focus on a specific group?.
Here’s a little secret about niching:
The thing about choosing a niche is it actually helps fill your appointment book faster.
That might feel counter-intuitive. Choosing a niche means you’re focusing your efforts on fewer people. So shouldn’t that mean it takes a big longer for the right people to find you?
Often, the opposite is the case. Let’s examine why.
Think about what people do when they’re looking for a specific service. Let’s use massage therapy as our example. So you’re searching for an RMT, what do you do? Do you just search google for ‘RMT’ and hope for the best?
I bet you don’t.
Most people don’t want to scroll through pages of results to find what they’re looking for, so they start with a more specific search to start with.
‘RMT downtown Toronto’ or ‘RMT prenatal massage Vancouver’ or ‘massage therapy sports injury Ottawa’. You get the idea. More specific to what they need.
Great! They’ve found results with massage therapists that fit their search terms. Now it’s time to choose one and book an appointment.
This is where the actual content you’ve created really comes into play. This potential client has to choose someone who feels like a good fit. And if they’re landing on your website, you want them to book, right? So you need to help them decide if you’re a good match.
Know what will help them decide?
You clearly showing how you can help them with the reasons they’re seeking treatment in the first place.
If they land on the website of a ‘generalist’ – that is, an RMT who doesn’t have a specific focus area – they might be a bit hesitant. “Can this person really help me?” they might wonder.
But if they land on the website of someone who has chosen a focus area, and that focus area exactly matches what they need, it makes their decision process really easy. Chances are really good they’ll book with you.
That’s great! But guess what happens next?
If they come see you and you’re good at what you do, they’ll tell others who are looking for similar services. They may also tell family and friends who don’t have the same needs as they do. If you’ve made a good connection with someone and you’re really helping them, they’ll want others to get help from you too.
So even if you’re focusing on a specific niche, you will find yourself with other clients asking to see you. And if you want to see them, you certainly can! If you don’t, you can let them know you only work within your niche, and refer them on to a trusted colleague. Most people will respect that and be glad you referred them to someone else. Either way works just fine, and either way is a great opportunity for your business and practice.
But what about the generalists out there? Am I saying someone without a niche can’t build a great business?
No, of course not!
Certainly a generalist can build a vibrant practice, but it often takes longer to get people in the door. It’s an issue of analysis paralysis – people will have lots of practitioners to choose from who are generalists, so how do they pick the right one for them?
When you choose a niche and market to that specific group of people, you really are helping them find you and know your services are meant for them. It’s a win for you and a win for them!