3 Reasons You Need to Overcome Your Fear of Excluding Potential Clients When Choosing a Niche
A few years ago, Kurt and I were in Las Vegas for the ICF conference and we decided to go out for Mexican food. While walking down the street, we came across this restaurant.
They indeed offer Mexican food. But do you think we went in the doors to try it? No way!
These folks don’t stand a chance. How can they possibly make amazing Mexican food when they are trying to serve up so many different types of food?! Plus, you gotta love how they seem to have thrown in the word “International” as an afterthought - just in case you were confused about the “international” nature of their menu.
When we talk to coaches, the most common challenge that we help them overcome is the fear of being too narrow with their niche and excluding potential clients. As a result of that fear, coaches fall into the trap that the restaurant owners above fall into. They are trying to be everything to everyone.
You don’t want to be the “everything to everyone” coach. Sure, in theory a coach can coach anybody but in theory, a well trained chef can cook any style of food. That doesn’t mean anybody is going to walk through your doors.
Choosing a niche: we'll cut you some slack when you're just starting out
Yes, we recommend that you choose a niche but that may be difficult when you don’t have much experience coaching. I recently reached out to a number of long-time coaches and marketing experts on the topic of choosing a niche and my friend and colleague Alison Hendren (who we interviewed a few years ago), a pioneer of our industry (I think she is ICF member ID #2) offered the following insight:
“I was trying to encourage coaches to get going vs taking too long to specialize and lose the opportunity to grow their coaching chops. So many coaches that I mentored took so long with this part and it was such a delay in my opinion. If they had allowed themselves to experiment for awhile, the experimentation could support them in finding their true “niche”.
So don’t sweat it too much if you’re just starting out. Get out there, coach people, and your niche will become more clear to you.
On the other hand, if you’ve been coaching for a while and still haven’t identified your niche, here are three reasons you should.
Why choose a coaching niche?
#1 Clients are more likely to choose you
Like the example of the restaurant above, when you have a niche, clients are more likely to migrate your way. This is particularly relevant when there are lots of options for the client to choose from. In the restaurant business, there are so many options that customers can find exactly what they are looking for based on price, taste, convenience, and more. Coaching is no different.
#2 You can find clients better
Perhaps the most valuable reason to choose a niche is so you can actively market to them. When you know who your ideal clients are, you can attend their meetings, write for their frequently read periodicals, and target them on advertising platforms. If you don’t have a niche, you might as well stand on a busy street corner with a sign that says “will coach for money”. The results are not going to be very good.
#3 People can refer you more easily
The other major benefit of choosing a niche is that people can recommend you more easily. A well defined niche is memorable and easy to communicate to others. If you have a well defined niche, you should be able to tell just about anybody the types of clients you work with and that person should be able to think of at least one person in their social circle that you could work with. Try it yourself. Describe your ideal coaching client (in one or two sentences) to a neighbour or friend and see if they can think of someone in their social circle that would be a potential client. If they can't think of anyone, your niche is either too broad or too narrow.
Any other reasons for choosing a coaching niche? What’s your experience? Leave a comment below.