The Power Of Niche

I’ve heard all the arguments against “niching”—creating a specialty area of expertise and building a highly engaged audience around it.

“Niching feels like career suicide.”

“I’ve tried it more than once and I just can’t get enough traction to make it work financially.”

“I like the idea, but just can’t envision focusing on one thing—I think I’d go mad.”

And yet some of the very same people who made those statements not only went on to niche, but enjoyed immediate results from their focus. One PR expert who struggled to nail down one client in three months signed contracts with four in a week after changing her message and her methods.

But don’t just take my word for it.

A recent study by Hinge Marketing found that local experts who created a successful niche bill 2-3 times more an hour than their peers. Rising national stars command 4 times as much as the local guy. Industry and global rock stars? Their hourly rates soar to 7-13 times higher than their counterparts.

Would doubling or quadrupling your rates (never mind by a factor of 13) change your work and your life?

Know that we’re not just talking about revenue here, although that’s plenty compelling. Niching can dramatically simplify your marketing, selling—even your media outreach.

Case in point: When I met “Frank”, he had just published his second book on a similar theme. He had respectable book sales, but wanted to grow his speaking business, which consisted primarily of one-off engagements for $500 here and there.

Our first mission: zero in on his exact brand/expertise and start crafting consistent, focused messaging and content around his theme.

Our second step: pitch his three to four monthly articles to several premium media outlets to get fast, broad distribution to his target audience (we also built his email list by reposting his industry articles and creating subscriber-only add-ons). We said no to media requests that were off-point and after about 12 months morphed from pitching media to fielding frequent media requests.

Our third decision: maintain a consistent, rational approach to speaking gigs and consulting fees. We worked out a speaking strategy and gradually raised fees—we put a stop to those $500 speeches. Two years later his going rate is $15,000 a pop. And, we developed a consulting business model that delivers an average $1,000/billable hour in fees. His revenue went off the charts—up by a factor of 5 after 18 months.

You can do this too.

It starts with a (small) leap of faith. The belief that you can GROW your influence, your impact and your revenue by STRATEGICALLY NARROWING your audience, your specialty and your sweet-spot.

Side benefit? You get to do what you love with people who value you. You make a real, measurable difference, have some fun and earn what you’re worth.

What could be better than that?

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  • Really on point.
    Just this past Thursday morning after a networking breakfast, chatting around another matter, we got to the fee I charged on a new project and the accounting firm managing partner turned to the managing partner of a trusts and estates/ special needs law firm (emphasize that because it represents a niche) and the lawyer friend says he would tell me to charge even more. And I am constantly re-examining fees. Reality is low-fees can cause folks to take you for granted and perhaps not even accord you respect. I will share your blog with both colleagues. I suspect the CPA friend will refer to it an a future continuing legal education program his firm runs targeted to law-firm managing partners (my attendance at one of his seminars led to me joining that networking group and it benefitted me greatly, not just my bottom line, which is nice by itself).
    We need to really value ourselves and our work and charge fees accordingly. “Niche” really helps to better define your work and your value; it helps you stand out and STAND APART (emphasis intended).
    Thanks for posting!

    • Rochelle

      Thanks for this real-world example Corey. The clearer and higher the benefit to the client the more they value you. And the more they expect and are willing to pay…

  • Thank you Rochelle, for the insightful and helpful article. I should target my audience for my book, “Song of the Koel”.
    My niche has to be women, immigrant women in particular and even older women. Please give me some ideas.

    • Rochelle

      Thanks for joining us here Gertrude! You want to think of the audience for this book of course, but you also want to target your audience beyond the book, assuming this is just the first of many. Who are you writing to/for? What do they care about?

  • Thanks for the reminder on the importance of ‘niching’. For me the difficulty has been how to define my niche. I know what the benefits are once I get it done but how to get started is my problem.

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