The riches are in the niches
Josh Winkles wrote this article
About five years ago, I was doing consulting for a business coach who launched a new course about business niches; trying to narrow down your product and target audience until it was as defined as possible.
The idea behind niching is that it helps you paint an unambiguous picture of who you are trying to sell to so that you can narrow your focus and not waste money and time on trying to get mass appeal.
Niches are often overlooked because they aren’t sexy.
People think that they are cornering themselves into a small market.
Perhaps you are, and that’s great! Let me explain.
Let’s say that you want to offer a subscription service for teaching people how to get in top shape.
That’s a big market.
You’re competing with deep pockets, and you will get lost in all of the fitness noise.
Maybe a 0.5% conversion on the traffic that you get, if you’re lucky.
So let’s get more specific.
Let’s go with fitness training for people with physically demanding jobs.
You’ve cut out all of the people who are just thinking about getting in shape or who want to do it just for appearances.
These are people who in theory get a direct benefit from being in shape, and in some ways, it is required for their everyday life. You might be up to 5% conversion on this targeted traffic, but we can do better.
Let’s niche all the way down to offering strength training for firefighters.
“Josh, that is way too small for me to make any money!”
As of 2016, there were over 1.1 million firefighters in the United States.
I think you’ll be just fine.
The point is that when you are this focused, you can drill down on only doing the activities that appeal to this smaller group. You can market where they hang out; you can tailor the product just for their wants and needs. I have seen people get 10% conversions on their leads using this approach and in the world of the internet, that is astounding.
So now that I’ve shown you that niching isn’t some dumb idea let’s look at a couple of easy ways that you can apply niches to your business.
1) Horizontal Niches
This is a model that many people are familiar with.
It usually refers to companies that do the same type of work across many different industries. These are your marketing firms, consultancies, many agencies (like Chop Dawg), your infrastructure providers like Salesforce, Gmail, and AWS.
They can fill the same need in healthcare, in SaaS, energy, retail, and many other areas. They have expertise in one aspect of a business and can apply it widely.
Even though a company with the right skills could technically go pretty wide on the industries they work in, most pick a handful and focus on those.
The main idea here is that they aren’t limited to just one industry.
A great way to get some focus here is to go a mile wide and an inch deep. Concentrate on a particular area. Don’t say, “We do marketing.” Think instead of saying, “We do logo design for these seven industries.”
Horizontal niches can be perfect for people just getting a business started because you only need to hone your expertise around one particular skill.
2) Vertical niches
This model is all about going deep in one industry.
This is an inch wide and a mile deep.
Many vertical niches will focus on multiple areas in a single industry.
You might have a company that works with solar energy companies, but they do it all. They have expertise in marketing, how the industry operates, sales cycles, costs, technology, industry news, etc.
Vertical niches, unlike horizontal ones, require a more comprehensive expertise. The best people in these types of companies know an industry inside and out. These are perfect for when you have worked in a particular industry for a while and have seen each facet.
So whether you are just starting a business or you want to refocus an existing business, forget the “my target customer is everyone with a pulse” and go for the niche audience.