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Like many of my clients, “Charlie” was dangerously close to doing a little of everything for anyone with a checkbook.

A business coach, he was struggling with my advice to focus on his specialty and narrow his target audience from small business owners to a more specific niche.

I’m sure there’s someone who can succeed by doing everything for anyone, but like Charlie, most people aren’t.  And here’s why:

When you do everything, you compete with everyone.

  • It’s almost impossible to brand your service because …
  • It’s hard to differentiate from “everyone.”
  • If you can’t differentiate (brand) yourself, it’s very hard to communicate what you do.
  • If you can’t communicate your value, it’s almost impossible to attract clients.
  • When you don’t have enough clients, owning a business is not any fun at all.

But if doing everything for anyone who shows up is the wrong approach, why are so many people are doing it? Why is it so hard to get people to focus their brand on a specific niche?

1.    It feels like something is being taken away from you. Like you’re shutting down possibilities. And, when you don’t have enough clients, it feels counter-intuitive to say the answer is “don’t fish in the ocean; go fish in that small pond.”

2.    You believe you can help a lot of people. In truth, if you look closely, you’ll find that while you CAN help many people, certain ones THRIVE from your help while others don’t.

3.   You’re afraid of having too narrow a niche. Much like the fear of being too rich, too successful or too pretty, this is more a theoretical fear than an actual one.  And, most people don’t get near a narrow enough niche to run out of prospects.

A niche is a specific subsection of a market or target audience.

There was a time when “small business owners” or “women” were niches, but they’re both such large markets now that focusing in on them is not as effective as it once was.

Another big opportunity for you: specialize

If someone has cancer, he’ll be quickly referred from his doctor (or general practitioner) to an oncologist, who specializes in treating cancer.  You may even find a specialist who deals with, for example, “men who have breast cancer” (a deeper niche).

If you have a 1964 Aston-Martin car, you’d likely eschew the service shop on the corner in favor of the place specializing in vintage European cars.

As an expert in branding (specialty), particularly branding for socially responsible solopreneurs and service businesses (niche), I see many people who have an essential gift or talent around which we center their brand.

A  unique gift, talent, product or service is a specialty.

The assumption is that it’s not for everyone and not something every service provider can do.

If you’ll notice, specialty actually contains the word “special” in it, and that’s important.  A specialty is inherently special, so it stands out from other things.  The people who need it perceive that you have particular insights about them.  Special things are not ordinary, and they are not commodities.  They stand out and stand apart.

In brief: a specialty is what you do and your niche is who you do it for.

Businesses with both of these are really easy to brand!  In fact, a strong specialty and a good niche usually do most of your marketing FOR you.  No one has to figure out what it is or why they would want it, they just call and buy.

So, why not just pick a niche and slap a specialty onto yourself?

Well, because that’s not how it works.  A niche or a specialty needs to be:

  • Discovered.  You can’t impose or paint it on from the outside.
  • True.  That’s the old-school way of saying authentic. It can’t be made up because it sounds catchy or profitable; it must be grounded in the truth of who you are, what you do and the results you get.
  • Acted on.  Usually that starts with saying NO to all the things that are not right.  Saying no when you don’t have enough clients can be very scary, but it’s the right thing to do if the wrong clients are showing up.  Now you have to start attracting the right clients.

And, while it may sound self-serving on my part, very often you need help to discover and act upon the truth of what exactly your specialty is and who exactly is your niche market.

My specialty is helping people to discover their niche and specialty and to form that into an irresistible brand.  I love to help socially-responsible small business owners, especially solopreneurs, who are working to make the world a better place with their products and services.

If you suspect there’s something special about what you do, but you aren’t sure how to market it, I can help you discover and communicate it in a compelling brand. If you feel your services are attracting the wrong clients, I can help you find the niche that will truly value you. Contact me today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

Niche photo by recursion see recursion