Finding your niche angle: who will you help?

…and how, exactly, will you help them?
Your niche, who do you serve?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?

Take 5 and write your visionAre 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:

  1. You can solve a nagging problem;
  2. You can offer pleasure or happiness;
  3. 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.

Take 5 and write your vision

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.

Take out your Goals and Purposes from the Vision post and your written Ideal, Ideal Scene. Update these documents based on what you just discovered.

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.

Take 5 and write your vision

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

Your Ideal, Ideal Scene

If you don’t know where you are going, you might not get there. —Yogi Berra

an ideal scene, achieve your goal

Starting a new direction in life or a new business is fresh; it has a great appeal. It’s a clean start, a blank slate, new interest. Exciting—and scary.

We have our dreams—can they really come true? Can we make it through all the barriers and hurdles and competition and succeed?

Yes you can succeed! What is success anyway?

In the game of life, success depends on just a few factors:

  1. having the right tools and knowing how to use them
  2. concentrated efforts
  3. knowing where you are going

This is the second in my series of Success Posts. If you haven’t yet done the steps here; please do them now. One thing we don’t want to do is skip any steps.

#3 Knowing where you are going is by far the most important.

And the absolute way to do that takes one single step: write it down.

What Time Is It? You Mean Now? —Yogi Berra

Yes, Decide. Most people don’t really think about this. They don’t mean to mess up here, it actually may not occur to them. Its a bit of a “well, if it doesn’t work out I’ll do this instead…” or “I’ll give it 6 months…” or… The mistake made is lack of decision.

And one great way to never decide is to skip the Define Your Vision steps (If this is you, please do yourself the service of actually taking pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—and do those steps. Yes, I mean now.)

You must decide where you want to go. Failure to do this causes indecision, paralysis and uncertainty about your future because you’ve left it up to chance. Next come bouts of procrastination, followed by guilt of said procrastination, followed by even more procrastination.

Then a truly amazing thing happens: It’s called the “I never really wanted it anyway syndrome.” Wow. This will gnaw as an emptiness for a very long time.

Work out your ideal scene with care.

Have you realized that if you don’t know your ideal scene (what you want to have) all the things you try to do will be wrong?

Take 5 and write your vision

 

Do this: It is 5 years from today and you have everything you ever wanted in your life, except you haven’t seen one real or imaginary best friend in 5 years. Write a really long letter to catch this person up to how your perfect life (5 years from now) is going. Describe every aspect of your life to your friend, everything.

  1. What activities are you doing?
  2. What is your daily health routine?
  3. What personal accomplishments have you made happen?
  4. What is your significant relationship like?
  5. Do you have children? If so, what personal things have they accomplished?
  6. What does your career or personal business look like? Exactly down to how far you commute, your work-hours, your co-workers and more.
  7. What are your hobbies?
  8. Where do you live and in what type of home? What color even and how decorated…
  9. What do you do for spiritual enhancement?

Since you are writing about what you already have 5 years from now, it is right here, right now. Yo …have 3 huskies and finally made that move to a small town in New Mexico where you built your compact but energy-efficient house. You start each day with a cup of chamomile tea sitting on the south-facing deck with your husband who… whatever you envision as your complete and detailed ideal scene.

Work on this letter until you have all the important details. Then post it on the wall next to your goals and vision.

“And realize, too, that this is a great way to make dreams come true.” —L. Ron Hubbard

(whose management technology I use every day, including tools for evaluating and achieving the Ideal Scene).

Please send me your feedback and any questions:

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Photo credits: Marie Sternquist Photography

Making Your Dreams Come True: Define Your Vision

Is your life moving forward the way you want? Toward your vision? Or is your precious time and energy spent going many directions at once and never seem to achieve your goals?

What makes the difference between being successful and not?

successful business professional with time to relaxTo be successful we have to focus and create power in everything we do. We cannot be a leaf blowing in the wind at the effect of the whims of the universe. It doesn’t matter what area of life we’re discussing, we have to do more with less time and to do that we have to align our actions.

This is a vital truth for any professional, executive, employee or domestic goddess (thank you comedienne Rosanne Barr). It is true for all my drugless practitioner clients and a place we start in my trap door analysis. We have to be extremely competent with how we use our time and energy. If we don’t remain focused and purposeful with what we do; we don’t succeed.

Focus.

To succeed, you must define yourself and your vision clearly.

The two biggest mistakes I see are:

  1. trying to be all things to all people
  2. lack of a clear plan and vision

Usually, lack of a clear vision causes “trying to be all”; which unfortunately equals doing none of it well.

What if you had a tool that would not only help you refine your vision but achieve it? And in doing so created time and got you the sorts of clients you really wanted?

Creating and Using a Vision plan

How many of us make New Year’s resolutions only to find that we forgot about them or didn’t follow through? “Stuff” got in the way. This is not a rehashed resolution talk.

In fact, let’s talk about it in a way you have probably never heard before. In fact, if you have not already purchased and read Arte Maren’s excellent book “The Natural Laws of Management” I highly recommend you do so. Arte has clearly and concisely explained how to set and achieve your goals.

Step 1: Define your goals

Don’t forget to include personal goals. “See lots of patients” well OK, but what about other areas of your life? Those have to run well also. Put them down.

Write 3-4 goals that are broad, long-term and really reflect your big think. “See lots of patients” is truthfully a bit too broad, how about “become known as the most effective weight loss program” or “transition to a cash-based holistic health practice in one year.” Or mine: “Create a ripple effect of successful independent drug-free practitioners who themselves are making a difference by healing the lives of many using safe and natural techniques.”

Take 5 and write your vision

Don’t forget a few other 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… Create a “vision board” with images of how you see these areas of your life.
Take 5-10 minutes and do this now.

Step 2: Put Purpose Into It.

The concept of purpose is sometimes hard to grasp—especially as a distinct thing that isn’t a goal. “What is your purpose in life?” How many times do we hear that? Do we know what it really means? Is it enough to answer “to help people”? No.

Your purpose  is the unique path you are going to take to achieve your goal(s). For example, I do honestly really love to help people. Being a driven type-A single mom with degrees in health and molecular biology but a passion for healing with nutrition alone I could either be dispersed all over the place or I could cleverly align all those things and flourish and prosper. My purpose? “To make evidence-based holistic health approaches well known in the scientific and medical communities and provide consulting services to help practitioners who use those approaches grow their businesses. To work independently so I can attend to the needs of my son.”

Take 5 and write your vision
What’s your purpose? What path or skills do you uniquely have or want to apply toward achieving your goals? List them now.

 

Step 3: (Don’t keep it secret) Put your goals and purposes in a visible place.

No, I’m not kidding. Having this posted on the wall in front of your desk or other visible place is vital! This super-secret step is missed by many; it’s gathering dust somewhere.

If you wrote down some goals for yourself earlier this year, or last, or the year before… and stuck them in a drawer… take them out now and post them right in front of you so you can see them. Do it right now. Don’t laugh this off as “I don’t need to do this” or “I have it all in my head.”

If it isn’t written, it isn’t real. And a corollary, if you can’t see it, you’ll forget it. Go back and do these steps. Then post your vision where you will see it.

Take 5 and write your vision
These are the most powerful steps you may ever take. So please do take 10 minutes and revolutionize your life.

Please send me your feedback and any questions:

[contact-form-7 id=”591″ title=”success series survey”]

Did you like this post?

Get my FREE Trap Door Analysis for holistic health professionals

Need to jumpstart your own health? Inquire about a FREE First Personal Health Coach Session

Photo credits: Marie Sternquist Photography