Working with a narrow target market or niche segment allows you to use your time and skills effectively to serve a unique group of clients with a common set of characteristics and needs. Examples of niche segments include high net-worth individuals, doctors, farmers, teachers and other defined groups.
The key is to select a group that suits your interests and your knowledge.
“There’s no point in working with a niche you’re not familiar with,” says George Hartman, CEO of Market Logics Inc. in Toronto. You must be thoroughly familiar with these clients’ needs, values and lifestyle — and everything else that’s associated with them.
“You must be seen as an expert in your niche, giving you a competitive advantage to serve it,” says Raymond Yates, financial advisor and senior partner with Save Right Financial Inc. in Brampton, Ont.
> Know your niche inside out
“Identify a niche you’re qualified to work with,” Hartman says.
You may have some attachment to the niche based on your background, such as an association with a sports team or a particular profession. This experience would give you some sense of what makes the members of the niche tick. Acquire as much information as possible about the attributes of your niche, Yates says.
> Offer services that are of value to your niche
“Develop a value proposition that is appealing to your niche,” Hartman says. This requires familiarity with the issues that affect these clients and their lifestyle.
For example, are members of your niche looking for wealth preservation vs building their wealth?
Are they high-income earners vs average-income earners? Do they have steady, secure jobs or do they work in cyclical industries? Do they have pension plans or do they have to save for retirement? What is special about their lifestyle? These are just some of the questions you must ask.
> Establish yourself as an expert
“You must have a passion for working with your niche,” Yates says. You cannot fake it.
Take deliberate steps to establish yourself as an expert. Your marketing content cannot be general; it must be personalized and address the specific issues and challenges faced by members of your target group.
“People will be drawn to you if you demonstrate an understanding of their needs and values,” Yates says.
Arrange to speak at niche-related events and hold your own seminars to establish yourself as an expert. However, Hartman cautions, whatever promotional activities you engage in must be appealing to your niche.
For example, Hartman says, “High net-worth individuals do not attend seminars.”
Instead, seek recommendations from peers on what works with members of your niche.
> Make use of networks
Connect with centers of influence (COIs) such as accountants and lawyers who serve your niche.
“Make sure they know what you offer,” Yates says. “They can be your advocates.”
COIs can offer you valuable tips on how to connect with your niche, he says. For example, join associations that members of your niche belong to, allowing you to establish relationships and learn about the opportunities and challenges in your niche, Yates says. He suggests sitting on relevant boards and committees and volunteering your services to gain recognition.