Short answer is, Yes, and No.
No – because “niche” is somewhat an intellectual construct that helps us wrap our head around the marketing thing, and it is very useful. It gives us a starting point, a home base and a framework to do our research, communicate* our message and create our offerings.
(* communicate, not create – that’s why it should not be the driving force in my opinion. More on that soon.)
Yes – because it is an easy thing to label** and “package”, making it an easy “thing” to sell. Even though defining one’s niche definitely has its merit, some programs and trainings on this subject may be blowing it somewhat out of proportion – like, it’s the magic pill that will relieve all your pain if you just “find your niche.”
Sadly, the problem lies in many people getting “pushed” into a niche (because they were told they need to have one right here right now) before they are ready to “claim it”, picking something half-assed-ly from a “niche menu” (because someone told them it is “viable” or “lucrative”) only to find out it does not resonate with them after they spent months going down the rabbit hole of building everything around this “made-believe” niche.
(** in my opinion, labeling tend to limit our perspective and make us susceptible to preconceptions, so we got spoon-fed other people’s definition without thinking through what something truly mean for us.)
What do I do with my clients when it comes to this “niche” thing?
Since my schtick is to help my peeps find their passion and conviction, so they can nail their message, claim their superpowers and monetize their Truth, building a solid foundation with clarity is my priority.
A comprehensive approach to “niching” involves quite a few layers and multiple aspects, and is often a good starting point to get clarity. “Niche” is a term most people can put their fingers on, giving us a common ground to get going.
The concept is still very important and relevant, but I believe it has to be utilized from a different perspective.
“Find your niche” is never the be-all-end-all, and it requires more depth and self-reflection than just listing some demographic data, or going onto Google Ad Words and let some keywords (aka other people’s worldview) define the most fundamental piece of your business – your “what” “why” “how” and “who”.
Research Data Equals Other People’s Worldview.
Many business and marketing trainings start with “niche” – with a lot of attention to the research bit – giving the impression that it’s “step 1” in building a business. Most of them gloss over YOU and jump into the potential clients, the market and the research. (Those are important, but they are the “cart.”)
But wait. If you start by looking outward and let the foundation of your business determined by external factors from research and data, you are negating the driving force behind your business – YOU. (That would be the “horse.”)
What do you think about that young kid who wants to get rich quick online by selling some pregnancy info product even though he has no clue what pregnancy is about, has not experienced it, has no passion in the subject matter and no interest in helping pregnancy woman?
If you allow data and data alone to determine your strategies, you are letting other people’s worldview drive your business (even your destiny.)
Data are representations of the past. They serve to inform. They cannot synthesize and innovate without human creativity.
In a way, data are “memories” – they are (interpreted) fragments of the past, not the “now.” There is a saying, if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always have gotten.
If you stick with the marketplace’s collective memory, you will produce something that reflects the “what has been”, not something innovative that looks to the future.
ok, stop, and chew on that for a moment.
Is there a happy place between looking inward but risk “navel-gazing” and looking outward but risk having data drive your “what” “how” and “who”?
Where do we start? It’s not about tossing what we know about target market research out the window. It’s about not accepting it as “step 1” in your process. It is about putting the “cart” in its rightful place.
Start by asking what YOU and your business is about –
Why the heck did you go into business in the first place? (Be selfish here. No body is judging, you don’t have to save the world.)
What do you want your business to do FOR you?
What is your passion and conviction? What are YOU about? What riles you up? What makes you angry about your industry?
What are your superpowers?
How are you going to blend desires, conviction, superpowers altogether and express it fully in your business so your personality shines through?
Who do you want to work with that will really light you up? Don’t give me women 25-45, because I don’t think all women 25-45 will light you up.
How does your conviction apply to these people? How can your superpowers serve them in a way that others can’t?
If you nail these questions with answers that are true to your core, you would feel a level of FIRE and conviction that will make you feel you’ve gotta make this work.
You are not going to bend your message to fit some market research data. You are going to wrap them around your message to make marketing work FOR you big WHY.
I find research data to be most useful in understanding human psychology and behavior.
Understanding your niche through marketing research helps you communicate your big message (which comes from YOU). It does not create your message. It helps you position your message so your ideal clients will understand the value you provide, in a context they can relate. It is not the driving force behind your business.
Your clarity and conviction birth your message. Mix it with your Who and your Superpowers, then, only then, add some data sauce, is when “niche” is nailed.
Don’t put the cart in front of the horse… don’t let “marketing” drive your big WHY.
Make marketing serve you. Don’t work for marketing.
Don’t pick a niche from the niche menu just because someone says it’s viable or lucrative, and mold your message (your Truth) around it. That rarely works because the conviction and the passion are not there. You won’t be convincing no matter how many “sales page templates” or “video script generators” you buy.
It is much easier to position your passion, conviction and superpowers in the market, than to stuff yourself into a box and call something not your passion your passion, because you can’t find freedom in confinement.
When you have that Trust and conviction, you are going to work around it to make it work. When you have that trust and conviction, you DARE to make YOURSELF the niche, if that’s what you need to do to make it work.