Honest question: are you struggling with your niche?
Most entrepreneurs are (and 90% of them don’t realize it).And even the ones who realize it often end up being so deeply frustrated by it for years and years.
If you’re in this boat, I want to recommend you check out these free videos by my friends Jeffrey and Suzanne (pictured right). The videos (which I mentioned in yesterdays blog post) are coming out this weekend.
And they’re all based around this provocative thought.
Your deepest wound is your truest niche.
Read that again. It might just be the most important idea I know of in niching.
A lot of the conversation about target markets and niches can get pretty . . . dry, hollow, abstract, cynical and ‘tactical’. It can be incredibly uninspired.
And it’s easy to see how it happens.
People go to a marketing workshop and they hear that they need to choose a niche. And so they think about the kinds of clients they like or the past jobs they’ve had and they decide that ‘yes! i’ll be a coach for lawyers’ but . . . they don’t really give a shit.
It’s kind of an arbitrary choice.
But the best niches aren’t arbitrary – they’re deeply authentic.
So where do these deeply authentic and resonant niches come from? How can you find a niche that’s so good it makes your toes curl with goodness? A niche that’s so authentic you never feel like a fraud? A niche so good that marketing doesn’t even feel like marketing anymore. Where do you look to find this kind of niche?
You look to your wounds.
You look to where you’ve been ‘pulled under’ (like the surfer pictured here) and come out the other side knowing how to ride those particular waves.
You look to your own history and the significant events in your life.
If you were told to shut up when you were young and have spent the rest of your life finding your voice – then you could be the perfect guide to help others find their voice.
Conversely, if you were made to speak when you didn’t want to, you might be the perfect person to help people set boundaries, enjoy their solitude and create restful spaces for themselves.
Or consider this example from Blaire Finnie (pictured right) from Victoria who attended my workshop in Vancouver yesterday.
“You know how highly functional adults and teens between the ages 15 and 35 with diagnosed mental illnesses struggle with their identity, their relationships, and an overwhelming confusion about their prescription medication(s)?
Well, I support people who live as their mental illness to transition into living with and eventually without their diagnosis and, in some cases, without their medication.
For example, I have been diagnosed with OCD, clinical depression, and twice with life-long bipolar disorder. I took antidepressants and anti psychotics, and was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward twice. Needless to say, I was living with extreme suffering, fear, and rage. I believed deeply that I was broken for ever.
Over a period of about three years, having done all kings of self-study and research, I found ways to overcome these challenges, and to move from blame, fear, and a fundamental lack of trust in myself and my experience of life through to acceptance, self compassion and self-love, and ultimately toward innate trust within myself and in my experience of life. One critical part of this process was to commit, unwaveringly, to a lifestyle primarily focused on spirituality.
Now, I have a strong and healthy sense of my identity, as well as a nourished and active body. I have beautiful, dynamic, and loving relationships with my family, a partner, and many friends, and I don’t even need to worry about prescription medications or psychiatrists because I no longer take any drugs of any kind, including pharmaceutical and recreational drugs.
I offer educational and inspirational seminars and lectures to schools, businesses, support groups, and families. I offer one on one coaching and guidance, as well as hands on healing and bodywork in individual sessions. In my work, I emphasize rest, proper nutrition and supplementation, regular exercise, and the creation routine in your lifestyle. My aim is to help you to realize who and what you are, and who and what you are not. I offer help and support for you to move beyond your belief that you are permanently and fundamentally mentally ill.”
Is there any doubt that he carries an immense and authentic credibility around helping people who are deeply mentally distressed? Is there any doubt that he will have a profound empathy?
Or what about my client who practices as a shaman. Sure, shamanism can help a lot of people – but who can he best help? Well, this man got involved in biker gangs for years. It took him four years to get out of it without being killed. But here’s a fellow who engaged in a very toxic and intense form of masculinity and is now one of the most beautiful embodiments of healthy masculinity I know. Do you think he might just have something to say to other men about embodiment a more authentic and life affirming form of manhood? I do.
We had an intimate little group of seven people who were all just the cat’s pajamas.
A highlight of the evening for me was when we were talking about this whole question of niche.
Because it was a small group we could go around and have everyone share what niche they wanted to fiddle with. One woman – a spiritual counselor – shared that she felt kind of stuck.
I could feel where she was coming from. How can you promise to take someone on a journey you were unable to complete yourself. If you’ve ever tried to position yourself in that way – it’s really stressful.
“Well . . . maybe,” I offered. “Your best niche is to work with people who’ve been unable to heal the difficulties in their family and are now left with trying to heal themselves and deal with the realities of that. And maybe you might even end up working with the whole family down the road . . . but why not start with those people? That’s a path you’ve absolutely walked down yourself.”
Her eyes widened, “I could do that and feel so authentic about that . . .”
Or what about my dear friend and colleague Alex Baisley. He spent nine years as an underwater welder in the Atlantic Ocean when they two things he hated most in the world were being cold and being alone. Then he spent six years as a reiki practitioner and that left him miserable too. He realized he was a gypsy stuck in an office. And now he travels about North America and helps people to create wonderful, unconventional, quirky and sustainable lifestyles. He’s been through the pain so many of his clients face of having so many ideas and talents and not knowing how to weave them together.
Or what about me? I spent years learning and doing ‘hard sales’ and cold calling and learning NLP and sales techniques. I did so many things that felt gross.It changed me. It affected me. I became more ‘slick’ in my personal interactions. My hippie friends distanced themselves. It hurt. And now? . . . I’m allergic to inauthentic marketing. I just can’t stand it. But I can smell it a mile away.
I could go on and on.
You want a niche? Look to your wounds. You might be surprised with what you find there.
Some of the core reasons why your wound can be the best source of your niche:
- you’ll have a deep empathy for what your clients are going through (because you’ve been through it) and that means they’ll melt in your presence, they’ll feel safe, open up and want to work with you.
- you know the terrain of the problem they’re experiencing intimately (because you had that very same problem) and that means you’ll know how to word your sales letters and that, when you speak about it people will really feel you.
- you know the terrain of the journey that they’re about to go through (because you did the same journey) and that means you’ll be an excellent guide for others.
- you’ll save time on market research (because your whole life was market research) which means you’ll be able to shave months or years off of the growth cycle of your business. You’ll intuitively know what others spend a fortune to find out.
- you’ll see through their bullshit (because you were full of the same bullshit when you were in their shoes) and that means you’ll be able to help them make progress faster
- your offers will be better (because you’ll know just what you would have loved to get and be offered when you were struggling) and that means you’ll make a lot more money with a lot less effort
- you’ll have a better sense of the hubs and potential partners (because you know where else you went to for solutions when you were in pain) and that means you’ll make even more money with even less effort.
- You might not just find that it’s a wound you have healed (or are healing) – but that it’s the wound in the world that you are here to help heal. You might find that instead of feeling like an isolated entrepreneur trying to make a buck – suddenly you’re a part of a larger movement for change in the world. Suddenly, all of the injustice you’ve endured has woven you into a larger movement for justice, all the pain you’ve experienced becomes the well of relief you are able to offer to others.
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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/