I read a ridiculous number of business books. And I LOVE them. I love how the fantastic ones so generously weed through all the crap advice you can hear out in the world, and give you concrete evidence and inspiring stories to support their contentions. They build a big story with a big idea and a hopeful, take-the-bull-by-the-horns message.
People just don’t do that when you’re chatting together at networking events or in casual conversation. We say our views (or not) and we nod our heads (or not) and occasionally we hear an anecdotal story to support a position (a story that could be countered, possibly, but we don’t want to be rude). And let me be clear – I really enjoy talking to people! It’s just that they don’t want to get meaty and heavy in the business domain too often. Which is okay-ish, because a bunch of people who LOVE talking about business stuff have written great books like Personality Not Included by Bhargava, Made to Stick by the Heath brothers, and Groundswell by Li & Bernoff.
My point, though, isn’t to promote business books (though if I were you, I’d SO buy Presentation Zen, Made to Stick and Rules for Renegades (actually if you go here, you can get Rules for Renegades free. Cha-ching!) (And I’m not just saying that because you can buy them from my resources page)… my ACTUAL point is that, even though I read zillions of business books and I’ve heard a million catrillion times how I should pick a “niche market”, I hadn’t really picked a niche market. Why?, you ask. Mostly because I didn’t know how. I know you’re thinking, how good can these books be if they don’t tell you the HOW of doing what they recommend?
First of all, lots of books fall short on the total ‘how’ of things. Plus, “how” doesn’t get it done. Doing it gets it done, and that means me doing it and frankly, I’m overloaded as it is.
ANYWAY, back to my point… I sort of thought that my niche was “entrepreneurs”. Then the other day I was talking to my good friend Nancy, who is a brilliant counselor and lovely human being, who said, “You keep calling me an entrepreneur and I’m NOT an entrepreneur. I am a therapist.”
*thunk** (this is realization hitting my consciousness)
Ah-ha! I think over my client list and realize that the last five clients have all been coaches of some kind. Then I recall the number of counselors and therapists I have helped pull together their marketing. Suddenly I’m realizing that my niche has been slapping me upside my head but I have been so busy calling them “entrepreneurs” (which they are) that I didn’t notice that I was missing my real niche… individuals who, mostly, market themselves! Like coaches, counselors, freelancers, consultants (ooh, that reminds me of the fabulous project strategy and management consultant I just wrapped up a marketing piece with!), authors, even photographers (sort of – okay, maybe I’m getting off track there…) Point is, I DO have a niche! Suddenly it all makes perfect sense.
I’m pretty excited by this niche thing, really. It makes it SO clear to whom I am speaking as I offer up my services. I know their language (hey, I am a coach, consultant and I did go through a whole year of a master’s program in counseling!) and I am genuinely interested and respectful of their work. This is such a good coupling I almost feel like planning a little wedding type ceremony.
It’s a little scary to declare a niche. I have worked with quite a few non-coach/counselor/freelancer/consultant/etc type people and I really dug that work we did together, too (thinking of some fabulous jewelry and handbag designers here). I don’t want to NOT work with people like them because I married my “niche” (maybe one good reason not to put together a huge public ceremony). But I do get it that declaring a niche doesn’t mean I can’t work with people outside the niche. It just means I won’t be calling out their names in my marketing quite as clearly. And if they are anywhere near as destined to work with me as the many coaches and counselors I’ve had come my way so far, we’ll hook up. I’m trusting the Universe with that.
I wonder what your niche is? Have you declared it yet? Tell me the story.