…and how, exactly, will you help them?
This is where the rubber meets the road. We were just warming up in the last two posts and now it is time to roll up our sleeves and really create your business.
You don’t want to simply make a living—you want to make a difference!
You are not just starting or running any old business—you have a passion, your ideal scene.
We tend to want to be all things to all people. What we must, must do is really zero
in on who, specifically, you can help by doing what you do.
Do you think you are limiting yourself? Consider this: By choosing a target audience or niche, you are laser-focusing your message to the people who need you most. The more specific you can get, the more your audience will feel like you understand their problems and that you are speaking directly to them. The more personal you become to them.
And… when we communicate our message in a way that strikes a personal chord, the more likely that audience member will believe you can help them—they begin to feel that you are somehow different.
Why is having a niche important?
Think about it. We are bombarded by “buy from me” “trust me” “(Name, impressive credentials) has helped hundreds of people just like you” … sorts of messages with every solicitation in the pile that comes from the post office, the hundreds in your email, and the pages and pages of internet search returns.
There are billions of people, all with massive problems and aspirations. Whatever your niche is, there’s an audience for it; no shortage there.
There is a more important reason for knowing your niche:
I call it “the round peg square hole” syndrome. Let’s look at my client, Nancy’s situation:
Marie—I have a client who is extremely overweight, she finally purchased a nutribullet. But it came with recipes using inflammatory foods and the book also has a notification that some of the recipes in it are not good for people who are on medication for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood thinners. I spent hours and hours reviewing the medical literature on these interactions. Now she’s worried, refuses to speak to her doctor, and she won’t talk to me either. And just when I’d gotten her to include more greens which I honestly believe she needs.
Let’s dissect this:
1. long list of medications… (a big hmmmm for Nancy’s whole foods approach, but not unworkable)
2. “I spent hours and hours…” (exactly, so who could you have been helping in that time? Spending “hours and hours…” is your first clue that something isn’t aligned unless you are trying to learn how to handle a *new* niche group)
But which piece isn’t an aligned, happy, relationship? And how did this happen?
Nancy’s stated niche is to help overweight people achieve their ideal weight by guiding them along the food and lifestyle choices that are correct for their unique body.
Not a bad start actually; could be worse as in just plain old “weight loss” but more details are needed or people who don’t fit slip through the cracks and consume more time than you were planning (or are paid for), energy, and ultimately leave you frustrated and with no results.
When you are in sync with your purpose, your life just flows—and you are the architect who will design your life.
How to define, exactly, your unique ideal niche:
The word niche gets thrown around a lot and often used improperly. Your niche is not your market nor is it your profession. These are not the same things. not understanding each concept will slow your progress toward creating a sustainable business.
Professionals who target a group do more of what they love, are paid better, and have no limits on their income. In contrast, very skilled professionals who try to market their profession generally have difficulty getting enough clients, keeping them for the long term, or charging enough to remain sustainable.
Take, for example, the very skilled and able physical therapist who hangs his shingle out thinking his (or her’s) abilities will become known and clients will arrive in droves. They wait, “Soon. I just know it.” they think, “Another month and word will get out.”
This is very much leaving things to chance because of two main problems:
1. To whom is the word getting out?
2. what word(s) are being put out there?
You need to know your audience. You need to so thoroughly understand your niche, your audience, that you can communicate into it very effectively.
Niche: n. 1. A situation or activity specially suited to a person’s interests, abilities, or nature. She found her niche in life helping young mothers learn how to provide healthy nourishing foods to their children despite “modern” convenience food marketing hype. 2. A special area of demand for a product or service. The busy mid-40’s male who becomes injured by over-extending himself on weekends and is looking for non-invasive, restorative healing solutions.
See the difference between describing yourself as (insert profession here) and defining your ideal client? Focus on that very narrow and specific WHO. Find out what their challenges are.
Step 1: Describe who you want to serve: Follow your heart!
Toss aside considerations of who has money. Yes, I mean that.
Yes, I really did say that. No, I am not saying you can’t make money. I am saying that it is important to align your dreams. When you connect to your passion, it will become the fuel for your business. Your prospective clients will know you are on fire; they will feel your enthusiasm with working with them. They will choose you and pay you. Connect with the work you want to do in this world.
If you could work with anyone, anyone at all no matter the financial consequences, who would that be?
Are they women? Men? Children? Families? Who are they? What is their education level? Income bracket? Fitness level? Knowledge base? Faith base? Particular profession? Who?
And… is there something they are not. It is OK to list a few “nots” but vital you turn those into what they are. For my client Nancy, this was taking “not on lots of medications” and converting it to “demonstrated commitment to a whole foods approach.” Otherwise you might wind up eliminating rather than including clients.
Take 5-10 minutes and do this now.
Step 2: Stop! Describing your business by what you do. Describe the problem you solve.
This is the biggie! The main thing most professionals miss is clearly communicating how the service they provide will benefit the person they want to serve, personally.
There are many types of benefits that usually fit into these:
- You can solve a nagging problem;
- You can offer pleasure or happiness;
- You can provide knowledge and cut through noise.
Take out a piece of paper and write down the different attributes that describe the people from step 1: your desired audience. Have half a dozen attributes on this list.
Make three columns to the right of this list. Write the words “Pain/Problem” at the top of the first, “Pleasure/Happiness” at the top of the second, and “Knowledge/Noise” on the third.
With your service in mind, list several problems, pleasures and noises you could solve or create for each type of attribute that is your ideal type of client.
Take 5-10 minutes and do this now.
How’d you do? In the next lesson you’ll see how to transform: “I’m a weight-loss coach.” into “I help women who are tired of dieting conquer their weight problems without starvation and cravings.” With practice, you’ll be able to create a discussion that is fluid and flexible with your potential clients. But there is one step first.
Now we align your niche.
Step 3: Refine your Goals, Purposes, Ideal Scene, and Niche.
This is the key to creating your image! Now that you know who you want to serve, how you would best serve them, and how they will benefit. You want to align the whole.
Return to those seemingly unrelated entries from your Goals, things like “be a great mom (dad) with time for my children after school” or “run a marathon” or “contribute more to my church” or…
Do these align and connect with your audience? Or can they? Do they help your audience connect with you? Many of them will if you truly chose your passion. For any that don’t, take a yellow highlighter and highlight them. We’ll address these as we get going on the next steps. Just highlight it for now.
Take 5-10 minutes and do this now.
Please send me your feedback and any questions:
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Photo credits: Marie Sternquist Photography