When I started my marketing agency, I had to make a lot of choices about the services I could offer. I found the hard part wasn’t choosing what services to offer but which to not offer. It was easy enough to start with one service, but then a client would ask, “I also need a website, can you help me with that too?”
The challenge wasn’t only around the services we offered but who we offered them to. Some agencies focus exclusively on healthcare, while others choose self-storage companies as clients. Some agencies work with startups, while others focus on large, established corporations.
No matter what type of client you want to work with, there’s no right or wrong answer as to the niche you choose as long as you can carve out a space you can call your own. Here are three steps to get you started.
Related: How to Find Your Startup’s Niche
Step 1: Define your goals
What do you want your business to be? What is its purpose? What do you want to accomplish through it?
Some entrepreneurs start a business because it seems like a nice alternative to a normal job (word of advice — you may want to think harder about this). Others want to build a fortune. Yet others want to change the world. None of these reasons is better than another, but if you want to build a business that generates $1M per year and makes you a nice living, you’re going to focus on a different niche than if you want to create a $1B business that disrupts an industry. Therefore, the first question is, “What do you want?”
Step 2: Find your zone of genius
In his book, The Big Leap, author Gay Hendricks shared the concept of what he calls your “Zone of Genius.” This is the area of focus in which the combination of our experience, skills, knowledge and interests allow us to do amazing things — things that appear magical to others. To find your zone of genius, start by listing all the things you’re at least halfway good at. Then, look for combinations that are unique to you.
For example, there are tens of thousands of marketers out there, potentially hundreds of thousands, so when starting my digital marketing agency, it made a lot of sense to focus our efforts on the higher education industry to differentiate ourselves a bit more. The fact that I worked within the higher education industry as a digital advertisement manager made us a bit more unique. My genius zone has allowed us to work with colleges and universities across North America.
You can also take into consideration your personal interests. For example, a dream client for me would be chess.com since I use their platform on a weekly basis. If they were to choose a marketing agency, it would make sense for them to hire someone exceptional with digital marketing, but also work with someone who is an avid chess player, as opposed to someone who doesn’t know how the game works.
What is your zone of genius? Where can you leverage your knowledge, skills and experience to make the biggest impact?
Step 3: Identify your ideal audience
Who is your ideal customer? If you could have an unlimited number of customers, but only one type of customer, how would you describe them?
An executive coach might say, “I want to work with any and all executives,” but do all executives want to work with that coach? They may face an uphill battle to get clients. One place to find your ideal audience of customers is to look at yourself. If you’re a female executive who transitioned into academia and became a university president, maybe your ideal audience is female executives who want to transition into academia or those who already have transitioned and want to become the university president. In serving them, you would be able to serve from a place of deep experience and authority.
Many marketers talk about niching down and finding that one type of person who is the perfect fit for your product or service, but there’s a trap here. “It’s easier to market to a roofer and plumber who are both in Miami than a roofer in New York and a roofer in Miami,” says JC Hite, CEO of Hite Digital. “Just because you’ve sold to a lot of roofers in Miami doesn’t mean roofers in New York are going to be just as interested.” Depending on the nature of your business, geography may factor heavily into who your ideal audience is.
In conclusion, the ultimate goal is to create a market of one. A market of one is when your ideal customer only has one option — you. As entrepreneurs, the closer we can get to creating a market of one, the more profit we can produce, which allows us to invest and serve our customers better, improve our relationship with them and make an impact on the world. By finding the right niche for you, you’ll be one big step closer to creating that market of one.