Here’s one of the first things I hear from most of the coaches I work with:
“I know I need to narrow my niche, but I just don’t know how.”
This is actually a great sign. It means coaches understand that if you’re not getting the results you want with the niche you have, you probably need a narrower one.
A smaller niche will bring you more clients? That’s right. Not intuitive perhaps, but right.
But here’s the catch. Coaches may know they need to narrow, but most often they don’t want to give up what they’re doing, even when it feels fruitless. It’s scary to narrow your coaching niche, even when it’s not working for you.
Yet there comes a time when sticking with the status quo is worse than facing your fears. That’s when a reality check can help.
So, how can you be sure you need to narrow?
Signs of a Coaching Niche that Won’t Go the Distance
Here are some tell-tale signs of a fruitless niche:
- You don’t know where to find the people you’re serving. You have no idea where your next 20 clients will come from.
- You can’t connect with your prospects because you can’t get past their “gatekeepers”.
- To get people to hire you, you almost always lower your fees.
- Clients are staying for short stints – 1 to 3 months – and don’t come back.
- You aren’t confident about what your prospects really want and will invest in.
- You don’t know what actions to take that could get you clients.
I call this trying to build a business without aim. If you are not clear and specific about who you serve, what they want, and where to find them, your efforts are scattered. You’re not building on what you did before. You can’t gather momentum, so it feels like you’re always starting over.
The Upside of Narrow
You can reverse all six of those tell-tale danger signs with one scary, powerful decision. Choose a narrow, viable niche market, and dedicate your coaching business to championing that market. Then:
- It’s easy to find the people you serve, because they naturally gather in groups. You can easily find out what your market reads, the associations they belong to, where to find them on social networking sites.
- They love to connect with you, because they are seekers, and you have made yourself their champion.
- Your clients willingly pay fees that compensate you well. They are motivated to invest in their personal and professional development, and you know how to offer that to them in language they will relate to.
- Your clients help you promote your programs and refer pre-qualified clients often, because they share resources with the peers they are already connected with.
- You are focused on a specific, self-identified group of people, so it’s easy to find out exactly what they care about enough to invest in.
- You are always clear on the high payoff actions – the actions that will bring you clients – because you are always guided by what your market highly values.
Here’s the truth that is so often overlooked. There are plenty of clients in even the narrowest of niche markets to support a thriving coaching business. Those clients will still bring to coaching the same spectrum of issues that you would find with anyone else. And in general, the narrower the niche, the less competition there is for those clients.
How to Choose a Viable Coaching Niche
You know coaching sometimes calls for tough questions. So here’s one for you:
Do you feel that you’re on the right track with your coaching business?
If your answer is no (or a less-than-resounding yes), ask yourself this follow-up question:
Are you targeting a niche market that’s likely to “go the distance” and bring you a consistent flow of ideal clients who pay you well, stay with you a long time, and refer others?
For most coaches, the second question holds the answer to the first one. Get this one choice right, and you’ll lay the foundation for a satisfying coaching business for years to come.