There’s an odd perception amongst the coaching profession that a coach themselves is a niche. Specifically, in fact, that they are their own niche.
There was a post in a large coaching LinkedIn Group that I belong to which asked ‘what’s your niche’ and it had dozens and dozens of responses. (You’ll be able to follow that link if you’re a member of the ICF group.)
This is the kind of answers that coaches gave:
- Mindset coach
- Parenting coach
- Transformational coach
- Neuroscience brain coach
- Change coach
- Spiritual coach
- Life coach
- Business coach
- Executive coach
- Leadership coach
- Career coach
I could go on, but I suspect you get my point.
The thing is, none of those things are niches, they are all job titles. They may also be the title of a qualification, but they’re not niches.
Job Titles Don’t Matter When You’re Self-Employed
The purpose of a job title is to let others know where you sit in an organisation. Your job title can infer position and gravitas. It means that in a couple of words, others know how important (or not!) you are. Job titles are a vanity metric really. That’s the reason why some are happy to have a spiffy new job title in lieu of a pay rise.
When you’re self-employed, you don’t need anyone to understand where you fit in your organisation because it’s irrelevant. What you do need them to know is what you do and for whom. (As an aside, you need to create a ‘golden sentence’ that explains just that.)
However, as most coaches come from an employed background, they are married to the idea of having a job title. They’ve always had one, so they think that they need one in their business. They don’t need one, what they need is a niche.
So, What Is A Niche?
A niche is a target audience. To be more granular about it, a niche is a clearly defined, laser-focused demographic group. The purpose of a niche is to allow a coach to market comfortably and effectively, to that group of people.
You cannot market to everyone.
You cannot market to anyone who ________ (fill in the blank)
Why Can’t I Market To Anyone?
The reason that you can’t market to anyone and everyone, is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ marketing message. Not for coaching. Not for anything else either to be honest, but let me stick with coaching as marketing for coaches is my area of expertise.
Let’s use career coaching as an example. Coaches (who have got past thinking that they are their niche) will tell me that their niche is – for example – woman aged 25 to 60 who want to change career.
If you know nothing of marketing then that seems to be a sensible niche. The problem with that niche is that it’s far, far too wide. If the purpose of a niche is to help you market effectively, then choosing a niche that you can’t market to is madness, right? The reason that you can’t market to women aged 25 – 60 is that what a 25 year old woman needs to hear and what a 60 year old woman needs to hear is completely different.
“Are You Talking To Me?”
What I mean by ‘needs to hear’ is that in order to help them understand that coaching can help them, your marketing message needs to speak directly to them and to join the conversation that’s already going on inside their head. What’s going on in the head of a 25 year old, is utterly different from what’s going on inside the head of a 60 year old. A 25 year old is just starting out. They may be ambitious and hanker after a stellar career. A 60 year old is at the other end of her career. She may feel that she has one really good job left in her before she retires, but make no mistake, retirement is on her radar, even if it’s that she doesn’t want to retire.
Can you see why you can’t talk to both of these women simultaneously?
If you need some help in thinking through what your niche might be, could I offer some help? On Saturday 26 November, I’m running a morning workshop called The 3 Pillars of Marketing. We’re going to look at how to choose a niche, how to create an ideal client within that niche, and what you need to say for that kind of client to understand why they might need coaching. It’s even got 3 x CCEUs attached to it!
See you there?