Bill Baren (a colleague and friend pictured here) is a genius at helping service based businesses get more clients. His Masters of Enrollment program is a powerful and simple program to help you get more of the kinds of clients you’re craving.
And his belief is that getting new clients starts with identifying your niche.
Specifically, a group of people who would identify themselves easily. A particular group of people on a particular journey from a particular set of problems to a particular result (e.g. new mothers who have trouble adjusting to life after their first baby).
But just because you can articulate a niche in a clever way, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. This isn’t about word smithing. It’s about really figuring our who is and who isn’t a perfect fit.
So, what follows is Bill’s checklist of questions he asks of every client he works with and my commentary.
He points out that these are sequential. That if you can’t check off #1 then you stop. You don’t keep going to #2. If you can get all seven you’ve got a solid niche. You should at least be able to get up to #5 to make this work. If you can’t, stop. Step back and reevaluate.
Bill Baren’s Seven Step Niche Checklist
1) Are there particular places where they congregate and hang out?
In my lingo, the question is – are there hubs? As I wrote about in a previous blog – there are seven major types of hubs. If there’s nowhere that your tribe hangs out then I would probably just let it go. Because, without hubs, you are going to be left approaching people cold. And that’s the hardest work. You’ll have to create the hubs for them to gather from the ground up. You can do it but it’s an epic amount of work. No marketing tactic will work unless you can first find them.
2) Can you honestly say you care for, respect and even love your tribe?
If you don’t love them then you’ll lose your mojo fast. You’ll run out of steam and inspiration. You’ll start resenting them. Don’t ever pick a niche just because you think they’ve got lots of money. It seems like a smart move in the short term but, unless money is the core motivator in your life, you won’t be as motivated as you need to be to make your business wonderful.
As my friend and colleague Carrie Klassen says, “Life is both too short and too long to spend time with people you don’t love.”
The shortest and most authentic road I know to this is to look to our past experiences and wounds.
3) Do you know what the result is that you know your tribe would be willing to pay for that result?
This is really vital.
People need a lot of things that they do nothing about.
They’re kind of curious about lots of things too. They’re interested in a bunch of stuff.
But, if you’re going to engage in right livelihood via business, then you need to sustain yourself. You need to get paid by people.
And how are you going to get paid?
Will you bully people into buying? Will you use such slick and manipulative marketing that you get people to buy something they don’t really want?
Those won’t work long term.
The only surefire way to succeed is to sell people something that they already really, really want.
And how do you know they really, really want it?
They’re willing to pay for it. If they’re not willing to pay for it – then it’s not a priority. People often tend to find money for the things that are a priority for them (e.g. “How could you buy that new TV when you already owe me $500??”).
This is where niches that are ‘interesting’ and ‘clever’ fall down.
Let go of clever. Be simple.
What is it that this group of people are craving? Offer them help with that.
It’s not about what they need (or what you think they need). It’s about what they know they want. In order for them to hire you they need to want what you’re offering. The bigger a gap between where they are and what they want the easier it is to get them as a client.
4) Are you passionate about delivering that result?
Bill spent years struggling to get new clients. He is passionate about helping people figure this out because he doesn’t want anyone to have to go through the same struggle. If you look to your past life experience and places you’ve struggled the most and overcome things you’ll often find the seeds of a powerful niche. Because if you’ve struggled for years to get a certain result and finally found a way – you will want to share that with others.
5) Do you want to be known for delivering that result?
Here’s where the rubber meets the road.
Are you willing to let go of being seen as an expert in everything?
Imagine you’re at a party and you overhear someone talking about you and they say, “That’s the guy who does _________?”
Would you be happy?
If Bill was at a party they might say, “That’s the guy who helps service based professionals get more clients.”
Do you want everyone to know that? Does that feel exciting for you?
Can you have other things you’re good at and not need to let everyone know that within 30 seconds of meeting them? Can you let this core result be the entry point for people – knowing you can share the rest of your skills with them further down the road of your relationship?
If you’re resistant to being known for that result then you’re not ready to have this be your niche. If you move ahead, you will sabotage yourself and all of your efforts.
6) Do you have the expertise or desire to commit to being the expert in delivering this result?
Here’s a big one.
This your sacred promise to your tribe.
Are you willing to be the best expert you can be? Are you willing and excited to keep learning about new and better ways to achieve the same result? Are you willing to be honest about when you don’t really know the answer?
Are you proud of standing in this – your place in the world?
Do you love the idea of craftsmanship? Of becoming better and better at what it is you do? Are you curious about other approaches and other people who use other modalities and tactics to help people get the same result?
If you’re not then, in short order, someone else will be. And they’ll be better than you. And you’ll feel less and less integrity about offering this result over time.
7) Can you identify other players who are creating successful businesses serving this market too?
Lots of people say, ‘ooohhh. there are already others already doing that so I won’t.’
If there are lots of others doing it that means that there’s lots of interest. Go there! Bring your unique point of view to that scene. You have something unique to offer. The result you’re offering is only one piece of your platform.
This is another variation of the conversation about hubs.
You can succeed without these type of colleagues and niche partners but it’s easy to do it with them.
If you see a result people are craving (e.g. losing weight) and you notice others offering people help to them (e.g. fitness trainers, nutritionists, hypnotherapists etc.) then it’s a great sign. It means so many people are craving it. It means that, more than likely, there are enough of them.
It’s easy to see these people as competition but you can also see them as complimentary to what you do – niche mates, colleagues.
If you can say yes to all seven of these you are well on your way to a thriving business.
Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/