Coaching Niche or Target Market: Clarifying the Difference

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Last week I put up a post asserting that a target market is “more effective” than a coaching niche. That claim struck a nerve for many coaches.

Unfortunately, in the coaching world the meaning of “niche” is frequently confused. As much as I try to be clear, I have sometimes contributed to that confusion myself.

These days, I favor the term “target market” (also called a niche market) because “coaching niche” is so often understood as a topical niche, rather than a distinctive group of people.


The confusion comes down to semantics, but it contributes to many coaches making an early choice to focus their marketing efforts on a topical niche (career coaching, success coaching, relationship coaching) rather than a niche market (social entrepreneurs, women clergy, nurses). This is a mistake that is certain to slow their progress toward a sustainable coaching business. To see why, look back at the previous post.

I advocate that coaches focus their marketing efforts on one viable target market, and let their specialty (their coaching niche) develop organically out of championing one market. That way, the special gifts coaches have to offer their clients will find a joyful place to be expressed, supported by the foundation of a financially sustainable business.

My goal is always to streamline, clarify and provide shortcuts for coaching business success. So let’s see if I can bring this issue into better focus.

Focus on a WHO Rather Than a WHAT

There are several dictionary definitions of the word “niche”. Two apply here:

1.     A situation or activity specially suited to a person’s interests, abilities, or nature.

Applied to coaching, this definition is oriented around a WHAT – a topic to coach around, a coaching niche – such as wellness coaching, transition coaching, or corporate coaching.

2.     A special area of demand for a product or service.

This definition relates to a niche market or target market – a group of people WHO share common needs or wants that can translate into demand for services in the marketplace – such as financial planners, graduate students, restaurant owners.

If like many coaches you have tried to sell life coaching, relationship coaching, or another coaching topic, and you have not attracted a steady stream of clients, then you have experienced the downside of focusing your marketing on WHAT and not WHO.

First, focus in on a very narrow and specific WHO and find out what their challenges are, rather than focusing on WHAT you want to coach. Then, concentrate all your marketing efforts and product development on that narrow, specific group. Speak their language. In doing so you will connect with your intended market (whether you call them a niche market or a target market) – and that connection will bring you clients for life.

Also, check out my program “your highly profitable niche” to learn how to define your niche and find your ideal clients!


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Rhonda Hess

Rhonda Hess is an internationally recognized business mentor and the Founder of Prosperous Coachå¨. Rhonda has a genius for helping coaches choose and champion a highly profitable niche so they can coach more, market less and blow the lid off their income. Grab Rhonda's free ecourse now: 5 Secrets No One Ever Told You About Your Coaching Niche and join the conversations on her blog - http://prosperouscoach.com

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