This is something I’ve come aware of over the years and my colleague George Kao stumbled upon a similar awareness.
One path is that of the Artist. The other is the path of the Entrepreneur.
The Artist creates from the inside out.
The Entrepreneur creates from the outside in.
On the Entrepreneur Path You start with identifying an explicit, consciously chosen hungry crowd and you bring them food.
The explicit niche means you say, “I want to work with this group of people who are struggling with these kinds of problems or craving these kind of results”. A burning problem, demographics, psychographics – you’ve got it all laid out.
You find the target market and then you figure out what to offer them. At its extreme, the Yang style of business is the cynical-business-man, Donald Trump school of thought. It’s very cynical, follows fads, and doesn’t tend to have much heart in it. It’s all about going for the money. And, honestly, is often more successful at creating money quickly.
The upside of this path is that you can move very quickly. The clarity about who you’re reaching makes designing your offers and figuring our where to find them so easy. The goal is clear and it’s an exciting process.
The challenge is that what’s trending now may change, and if you’re not that excited about it anyway, you’re likely to jump to something else soon. If you need a whole new business and niche every time you do that, that can be a whole lot of work.
At its extreme, as exciting as it can be as a game – it can feel so empty. There’s not much heart to it, and so there’s not a lot of creativity involved, which often leads to a lack of sustainability and satisfaction. Also, when people choose a niche based on what’s popular or trending at a particular time, there’s not much connection from their own life or much experience they have with the problem they’re solving, and so there can be a huge, steep learning curve.
The Artists Spiral of niching is about going inside, asking yourself what it is you want to create and then giving that to the world. This inside-out approach often is a better fit for life coaches, holistic practitioners, permaculture practitioners, etc. It’s where you start with who you are, and what you most want to give to the world, and then you look at who might need that. The extreme version of this style of niching is like Vincent Van Gogh. Amazing art is produced and the world is made more beautiful, but you die broke and unappreciated.
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
“What the artist is always looking for is the mode of existence in which soul and body are one.”
– Oscar Wilde
The challenge here is that there’s no explicit who here. And that can make marketing feel impossible. Where do you start?
In the end, it’s not really an either/or. We all end up needing to dance back and forth between these two. There’s a looking at what we want to give, and then a looking at what’s needed. Then we design the thing that we think can meet that need, and trust our taste and aesthetics around it all.
If you want more meaning – lean towards the Artist’s Spiral.
If you want more money – lean towards the Entrepreneur Spiral.
If you’re really clear about the exact target market you want to serve, the precise problems they’re struggling with and the result they are craving, you’re likely on the Entrepreneur Spiral.
If you’re really clear about what you want to offer (e.g. massage, reiki, life coaching, permaculture) but you haven’t figured out exactly how or to whom, then you’re likely on the Artists Spiral.
My dear friend, colleague and client Erica Ross and her partner in crime Vanya Laporte has just co-created a wonderful new online program that I think nails things from a marketing perspective. I’ve known Erica for many years. We met when she came to one of my first ever weekend workshops in Toronto and she’s done nothing but flourish since. I hope to one day come up with an offering as simple and good as this.
Her new offering is called Daily Dance. You can check it out on her brand new website designed by one of my favourite web designers, Kim Tanasichuk.
This is the deal: for 21 days you get an email with a video explaining a new ‘dance of the day’ and a song (approx. 4-6 min.) to use to dance to it.
You also get suggestions to explore the intention behind the dance further, a playlist of additional songs, and a link to a private Daily Dance Facebook group where you can share your experiences.
Note: I am not an affiliate of this program. Just a fan of Erica Ross and thought her offer would be a great way to talk about offers in general.
Here’s why this works so well (and the four lessons you can learn from it):
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #1: The offer is simple and easy to understand.
I can’t overstate the importance of this.
If marketing were like baseball, then first base would be clarity. That people get what it is you’re offering to them. It is amazing how seldom businesses even get to first base. There is no clear understanding of the problem they’re solving, the results they’re offering or even… what they’re offering.
And the confused mind says ‘no’.
The name is simple (and alliterative which is helpful for remembering it): Daily Dance. The name tells you what it is.
Such a simple idea. 21 days where you get a new dance video every day. Easy. I get that. I can picture that. Is there more to it? Sure. But that’s the core of it.
Want more examples?
How about FedEx? The idea is simple: overnight delivery. Easy to understand. Or clearasil (not that I am, in any way endorsing clearasil). In seven words, they state what they’re offering, ‘visibly clearer skin in three days. guaranteed.’ Simple. Easy to understand.
In Edmonton, we have Origami Accounting which offers a flat monthly rate for book keeping. Their website is a delight to go to because it makes it so simple.
And, of course, there’s Dollar Shave club known for its edgy online commercials. You pay them one dollar per month and they mail you the razors you need for that month.
And there’s Panty by Post where for about $15 per month you get a pretty panty mailed to you.
Calgary’s Bava juice makes cleansing easy because they just mail you the bottles of (extremely delicious) fresh pressed juices.
These ideas are winners because they’re so simple. And that means people can talk about them. And, for word of mouth marketing (which is the basis of all marketing) that is a must.
It’s a good question to ask yourself, ‘How easy to understand is my offer?’
If you’re struggling with articulating your offer, here are sixteen questions you can ask yourself to hone in. And if you generally struggle to articulate what you do then I strongly recommend you get and read this.
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #2: It’s offered at a clear and incredibly affordable price.
Daily Dance is $21. That’s their launch price so it will go up, but that’s a bargain. If you can set your price at a level that makes you a fair profit but is also a no-brainer for people, your business is likely to do very well.
People don’t like to be confused and it amazes me how many people’s pricing structures are mind numbingly confusing.
And clear pricing is critical.
First, it makes it more likely that those who want to buy will buy. But, far more importantly, it avoids the number one thing that people hate around pricing: surprises. To be quoted one price and then invoiced for a higher price makes people cranky. If you can develop a straightforward and easy to understand pricing structure, people are a lot more likely to buy.
Regardless of how much you charge, people must feel as though they are getting a bargain for the money. They need to believe that they are going to get back at least as much if not more than what they’re putting out in terms of money. There must be a clear and solid return on investment.
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #3: It’s a great example of basing your niche on what you do vs. picking one target market.
Some niches are based on a very particular target market (e.g. single dads, divorce lawyers, yoga teachers etc) but other niches aren’t so much based on who as ‘what’ is being offered. In this case, they have a very clear offering – 21 days of dance. In a general sense, their ‘who’ is going to be people who are drawn to bringing more dance into their lives. Their ideal clients are the kinds of people who would see this offer and get excited. That may seem obvious, but it’s a critical distinction between two different paths of niching.
What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Niching Spiral.
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #4: They offer a three day trial.
I love it when people offer free trials. It’s simultaneously a very smart and strategic thing to do but also a very generous thing to do.
I won’t write much about it here, but if you’re interested in why creating free ways to sample your work is so vital click here. If you want to know how to do it click here.
OFFER MAKING LESSON #5: It’s a very well thought through and well put together offer that people actually want.
There are many aspects to this that are very well thought out. First of all, only 21 days. That’s not too overwhelming.
Second, an online offering for people who feel too busy or intimidated to follow their interest in dance. They don’t have to go to a big class and risk embarrassment. They can start small.
Each day is scalable. There’s a video. There’s a song and, if they want more? There’s an extended playlist to explore.
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #6: It’s visually beautiful, polished and professional.
The most important thing is that the core offer is good. I’d rather have a solid offer with a rough presentation than a bad offer with a beautiful presentation. In terms of sales, if the core idea works, it can still fly in spite of bad design. But a bad idea with beautiful design? It’ll never last. If you have to spend your money on a good copywriter or a good designer, there is no doubt in my mind it should go, in almost all cases, to the copywriter.
However, having said that, I’m a big believer in making things as beautiful as possible. Or, to be more accurate, making sure the design captures the vibe of the business. Knowing Erica as I do, the website as a whole and the sales page for the offer nail it.
I see so many websites that make me wince. They don’t look professional and it hurts the credibility of the site. It has me trust the offers a little less.
OFFER-MAKING LESSON #7: It is a heart and soul-based offering at it’s purist.
Kim Tanasichuk had this to say, “It’s fun, it had so much depth and beauty, it reflects the care and love they put into all that they do, and it reflects them and their sacred life’s work. And it’s setup in a way where it allows people to unfold themselves – their emotions, their hearts, their being and feel nurtured while doing this. The offer matches the creator. Because of this primarily — it is an “Offer” at it’s finest.”