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The four reasons trainers resist adopting a niche

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7th Jan 2014
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Fresh after exploring why trainers need a niche, Heather Townsend explores why trainers often struggle to adopt a niche.

After working with many trainers who resist adopting a niche, I know that there are typically four reasons why this is:

  • You think you will turn business away
  • You worry that you will restrict your marketplace too much by focusing on a niche
  • You fear boredom dealing with one type of client
  • You have no idea where to start.

Whilst these are very seemingly sound logical reasons for not adopting a niche, these are often myths rather than real barriers to enjoying the financial and mental rewards of having a niche and being seen as an expert.

You think you will turn business away

As a specialist in a specific area, your marketing will be optimised to attract the right sort of clients – the ones that you really want to work with and find rewarding in more than just the fiscal sense. What would you do if somebody else approached you? You would decide if you had the capacity to take them on, or not. You don’t have to turn them away; you just don’t market to them. 

Many trainers worry that if they adopt a niche then they will alienate their existing clients who don’t belong within that niche. Remember that your marketing is not aimed at your existing clients, just the new ones that you want to win. If you are delivering a great or even extraordinary level of service, your existing clients probably wouldn’t care less about your niche. However, you may find that to deliver the right level of service to the niche clients, you need to exit some older clients. 

You worry that you will restrict your marketplace too much by focusing on a niche

When you are struggling to get work as a trainer or a coach, being told to restrict your marketplace seems to be a stupid idea. After all, you want to make sure that you are as hireable as possible. Logically, it then seems sensible to diversify as much as possible. Actually, this is often the worst thing you can do. By diversifying you often dilute the impact of the brand you have build, and reduce your credibility with folks who may book your services. Paradoxically, by focusing on a niche or key piece of expertise you are more likely to be booked than if you claim to be all things to all people. 

You fear boredom dealing with only one type of client or type of work

The common arguments go like this:

  • I like the variety that being a jack-of-all-trades brings me.
  • I started my training business or freelance business to get a greater variety of work and enjoy myself more. If I niche I will only get one type of client and that means I won’t be as happy.
  • If I am to get more associate work I need a broader skillset to be more appealing to the managers and partners resourcing the client’s work.

This is a very real fear. Your long-term success depends on being clear on what you want, emotionally as much as (if not more than) financially. But then think a bit more. Variety comes from the people you have as clients, more so than the topic you have chosen as your niche.

A niche is about marketing and profile building. It’s about focus and allowing you to have marketing that is very attractive versus marketing that doesn’t really speak to anybody. It’s about being an obvious choice for people in that niche. That leads to you becoming the Go-To-Expert for your marketplace. 

Having mastered one, who’s to say you don’t start another one or two niches? I personally started off by being a networking - both online and offline - expert for professional services. This then developed into a referral generation expert for professional services. As a consequence of writing my second book, ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, I had a good hard think about my brand and niche, and what I really loved doing. This then morphed into helping professionals become ‘The Go-To Expert’. My business has only grown as I have expanded my niche. However, the easiest way to build your reputation and profile is to start small, and then expand your niche as you build your profile. 

You don’t know where to start

Understandably, it’s one thing to say that you have a niche and another to actually commit to it and capitalise on your niche. The training to run your own training business or be a successfully freelancer doesn’t often contain this important bit of knowledge. After all, if you look at the standard business development curriculum for independent trainers or coaches, the answer to lead generation problems seems to be ‘have a website and network, network, network’. However, if you take the time to really think through how to choose and capitalise on your niche – and my new book, The Go-To Expert will show you how to do this – you will get significantly better results from your website and networking activities. 

Choosing to commit to a niche takes a leap of faith – but one which you will never regret doing.

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the Go-To-Expert. She is the author of ‘The Go-To Expert’ and the award-winning and best seller, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking’. Click here to receive a weekly email from me to help you become the Go-To Expert and enjoy the luxury of clients coming to you.

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