Today, I want to share something with you that I wish someone would have told me when I first started my business. Hell, I wish someone would have told me this in my first two years of business.
It took 4 years and my first business coach to teach me this HUGE, monumental lesson about business. And this lesson is ...
Please, for the love of business gods everywhere, pin this so you can remind yourself later (hover over the picture until you see the little red P show up in the top left-hand corner, and click it). If you want extra good karma, share it with anyone else you know who is an entrepreneur. It's that important.
I remember when I first heard this lesson about picking a smaller group of people to focus on helping, or what we in the biz world call a niche or ideal client, that the objections started flying out of my brain faster than a speeding bulletproof coffee. Objections like:
- but I want to help everyone!
- but how am I going to make money?
- isn't it the stupidest idea ever to turn away business?
- my husband is already harping on me to make more money. How is this going to help?
The answer is that it's going to help everything you're doing in your business. Your marketing. Your programs. Your profit. Everything.
But how could focusing on one group of people, and excluding everyone else, possibly help you do that?
Here are 3 ways that picking a niche (and sticking to it) will help grow your business by leaps and bounds:
1. If you don't know who you're helping, you can't effectively market to them: In last week's article (click here if you missed it), I talked all about branding your business. How the colours, fonts, photography, writing style, examples you use, and your social media have to speak to your ideal client.
So, before you pick your colours and fonts, spend money on photography, hone your writing skills, or spend time on social media, you need to know who you ideal client even is! It's kind of like the chicken vs. the egg conundrum ... except that, in the case of branding, we actually DO know what comes first.
Your niche and ideal client comes first, everything else comes second.
If you wrote an amazing online program to help women with menopause, but your website screams 20-something singleton, do you think a menopausal woman will feel confident enough to buy from you?
Figure out who and what you're selling first, then have everything about your business point directly back to those two things.
Your niche/ideal client needs to completely relate to your:
- copy on your website
- blog post topics
- social media feeds
- programs (online and offline)
2. If you focus on one niche, you can become known as an expert: you've most definitely heard of the saying "jack of all trades, master of none". This saying has stood the test of time because it's true.
100% of the time, paying clients come to you because they have a problem that you can solve. 90% of the time, paying clients come to you because they have a serious problem. People usually don't invest in their health until something goes wrong.
Let's think about the medical model. There are two ways that doctors can complete their medical degree: 1) general practitioner and 2) specialist.
As a general practitioner, you go to them for smaller things, like colds, flus, prescription refills, and blood work. But when the general practitioner finds something really wrong, who do they refer you to? The specialist. The expert on that one body part or system. The person that knows the ins and outs about that one thing.
And who's opinion do you trust more? The expert.
When you can focus on one niche, you get really good at it. Your clients get really good results when they work with you, because you really know your shit. And then they tell everyone else about it. Soon, without you even trying, new clients are calling YOU, instead of you investing hours and money marketing to find them.
Whether you teach yoga, are an essential oil advocate, a holistic nutritionist, or something else, you need to become an expert in something. Whether it be yoga for people who have chronic pain, or oils for balancing moods, or nutrition for healthy hormones, once you become known for that one thing, referrals will flow like melted coconut oil, right into your bank account.
3. You can focus your biz energy on one thing, instead of a million things: When it comes to customers or clients buying from you, they say that a confused mind never buys. We've all experienced this feeling at some time or another!
I remember feeling analysis paralysis when my favourite shampoo was discontinued and I was forced to look for something new. I stood in front of the wall of shampoo at the store, trying to figure out which one would be right for me. I desperately wished there was a way for someone to make the decision for me, and to tell me, without a doubt, which one would work best for my hair. And that was just to pick a damn shampoo! Imagine how our clients feel when they're trying to solve their health issues, and how complicated it can seem to them!!!
If you don't have a focus on who you're trying to help, you're going to feel the same way when it comes to growing your business. What activities should you do? What should you blog? What social media platforms should you be on? Do you blog daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? Do you focus on in-person, group, or online programs? How much do you charge?
Once you choose a niche, a lot of these decisions will automatically be made for you, and you can stop wasting your energy on areas that people in your niche aren't interested in. For example, let's say your niche is women aged 40-60 with arthritis. So you find some women that fit those criteria, and ask them where they hang out on social media. Boom, decision made for you.
You can stop wasting your time on business activities that aren't going to lead to paying clients. That's why you run a business, and not a hobby, right?
Now that I've talked you into choosing a niche or ideal client, how do you actually choose one?
You just have to ask yourself 2 questions:
1. Who are you passionate about helping?
2. What area do you know most about/have personal experience in?
Bonus if those two overlap. Some examples of niches include:
- weight loss
- pain management
- digestive issues
- mood imbalances
- hormone imbalances
- specific ways of eating (vegan, paleo, traditional foods, etc)
You can apply these niches whether you're using nutrition, yoga, essential oils, meditation, herbs, or supplements to help them. That's just the tool, but the niche is the problem or group of people with the same problem that you want to help solve.
Now, for the million dollar question: how do you figure out what that person actually wants and get them to pay for it?
Well, there's this funny little strategy called asking them directly.
Chances are that you already know a few people who fit the picture of your ideal client. Also, this does some of the work of figuring out if this niche will make you any money, as if you literally don't know anyone online or offline who could be your ideal client, maybe you've gotten a little too specific with your niche and need to relax it a bit.
Take 5 minutes and write down everyone you know who is in your niche and who you could reach out to for some market research, either by directly phoning them, sending them an e-mail, or sending them a direct message on social media.
Then, for the next step, you need to send the people from your list a simple questionnaire (either by a free electronic survey program like SurveyMonkey or in the message itself) that will give you tons of useful info. You could even offer them something in return for them answering your questionnaire, like a free one-on-one service from you.
If you're sending an electronic survey, it's super easy to ask multiple choice questions, and quickly see what most people prefer. If you're using the free version SurveyMonkey, you'll be able to see you results like this:
Send a combination of multiple-choice and long answer questions, as how people answer questions in paragraph form will give you idea of their problems and the solutions they're looking for in their own words. This is priceless when it comes to writing your blog posts, social media updates, and copy for your website (this is the secret to people saying "that's exactly how I feel ... this girl understands me!" when they read your stuff). You'll end up with answers like this:
Then, you have to wait patiently for the answers to come back to you. Depending on what questions you've asked (and you could ask hundreds!), you ideal client will tell you exactly what they want, how much they are willing to pay for it, and how they want it delivered.
Your job is to just grant their wishes, like a genie in a bottle they didn't even know existed.
I've been sending out ideal client questionnaires for about 3 years now, and they have never disappointed in opening up my eyes to the needs of my peeps. There isn't one right way to ask your questions, so get curious and open them up for a heart-to-heart. However, I'd keep it to 10 questions max, as most people are busy. If they see too many questions, they'll close your message and never get to it again, even if they do want to help you out!
If this is a new strategy for you, you're probably feeling like you don't know where to start right now (ahem, those are answers to a survey question that I've sent you, and almost all of you said the phrase "I don't know where to start". See how that works?!).
I've created three done-for-you versions of a "Getting to Know You" market research questionnaire that you can send out to your friends and family who fit your ideal client criteria.
These done-for-you questionnaires will help you figure out:
- if you've picked a niche or ideal client who will actually pay you for your programs and services (i.e. is this business idea a pipe dream, or will I be able to make some money?)
- what problems your ideal client has (in their own words!), how you can solve them, and how much they'd be willing to pay you to help them
- exactly what they want to see on your website and social media, so that you'll keep attracting a bigger tribe who is primed and ready to work with you
Stop guessing at business strategies that will help you grow your business and profits, and start asking your ideal client directly! Let them tell you how they can give you their money. You'll feel less stressed in your biz, your clients will get amazing results, and you'll build a sustainable, joy-filled business for years to come.
I wanna know: have you ever sent out marketing questionnaires like this? If yes, did they help you help your ideal client? Share away in the comments below!