But we all get people unstuck
To some extent or other all of our clients are stuck in at least one area of their life.
If you weren’t stuck, why would you hire a life coach – or any coach for that matter.
You could be stuck in the wrong job, stuck in the wrong relationship, or stuck at the wrong weight.
Procrastination could keep you stuck, or a lack of motivation and/or confidence could be keeping you stuck.
And, as I mentioned I did have a strong brand too.
I was the outspoken coach who (rightly or wrongly) used to swear a lot in his blog (almost always for comedic purposes), loved to use humor and was prepared to admit to not having a perfect life.
I was the coach for people who wouldn’t normally hire a coach.
All this had more or less the same effect as having a niche.
I knew that 90% of people who landed on my site would never hire or buy from me – and that was fine.
Similarly, I knew some people thought I was unprofessional, especially when I would write about highly inflammatory topics that were, sometimes only loosely, connected to self development – that was fine too.
My approach wasn’t going to get me the most clients, but (and to paraphrase John Lennon) it was going to get me the best and most loyal clients – at least for me.
Loyalty is what matters
I had in mind a person who was very down to earth, liked to laugh a lot, wasn’t easily offended by people with differing opinions and loved to learn as my ideal client.
That was very much part my client avatar.
That was the person I was writing blog posts for, recording YouTube videos for and looking to interact with on social media.
And in many ways it still is. Only now it’s somebody who is also deadly serious about building a successful coaching practice and prepared to work hard as well as have a lot of fun.
I made that work for over a decade, but I’m not convinced that I could succeed with that approach now if I was starting from scratch.
I would need a niche.
A crowded space
The coaching space is exponentially more crowded now than it was when I started and standing out is proportionally more difficult.
If you wanted to hire a coach in the Orlando are in 2006 you had three choices that I was aware of – at least online.
Me, or the two other coaches that appeared in searches.
And I was the only one who was on the Tampa side of Orlando. As such, I had almost no competition.
I have no clue how many coaches there are now in Orlando, but it’s many scores, if not hundreds.
Standing out is tough.
If you had problems with your heart would you insist on seeing your family doctor.
Or, would you rather see a cardiologist?
Exactly. You want the cardiologist because she’s the expert.
You’re probably going to pay expert rates too.
By and large, experts get to charge more.
It’s no different for people wanting to hire a coach.
If you’re struggling with procrastination do you want the dude who calls himself a life and business coach?
Or, would you prefer to opt for the coach who only helps people suffering from debilitating procrastination?
If you have diabetes and want to get fit, do you want a wellness coach?
Or, is the person who solely helps people with Type II diabetes more appealing to you?
And, if you have issues with relationships at work and it’s holding you back on your career path, do you want a relationship coach?
Or, would you be more interested in the coach who focuses on building, establishing and improving workplace relationships?
What's a good niche?
You may be a tad confused now because most coaches think that being a relationship coach is a niche – it really isn’t.
And neither is a wellness coach.
They are on their way to being niches, but they are still really broad.
A niche is always a subset of a bigger whole.
As a rule of thumb, the narrower you make your niche the easier it is to market yourself and the easier it is to appeal to your target market.
It’s almost impossible to have a niche that is too narrow.
if you think you have gone too narrow, ask yourself this question:
‘Are there enough people in this niche that if they knew about me and what I could do for them, would fill my schedule?’
If the answer is yes, then you have a marketing problem not a problem with your niche.
I am currently working with a coach who only works with people who have had organ transplants.
I recently worked with another who only coaches people (or the caregivers) of people who have had TBI’s (traumatic brain injuries).
On top of those, I have been hired by people who have the following niches:
- Wives of members of the Military
- Financial advisors
- People who are INFJ on the Myers-Briggs type Indicator
- People with ADD and ADHD
And they are just the ones that spring immediately to mind.
Find YOUR niche
Ask yourself, ‘who do I really, really want to help?’
I had 20 years of successful sales experience and would have made a very credible coach specializing in working with salespeople.
But, that misses the tiny fact that I didn’t want to work with salespeople.
I think of myself as a business coach who specializes in working with coaches and therapists these days. As such, people who hire me expect to lean on my coaching experience and want advice.
And that’s fine, but pure coaching isn’t like that.
Prior to working with coaches I worked with doctors, attorneys, accountants and even a rocket scientists from NASA (sadly, no brain surgeon…yet) .
I know next to nothing about any of those fields – but it doesn’t matter – they weren’t hiring me looking for advice.
So, don’t pick a niche because it’s easy or purely because you have knowledge of it – pick it because it excites you. Because it gets you bouncing out of bed in the morning and because you can’t stop talking about it.
Of course, if your skills and experience align with the niche you are excited about – then so much the better – go for it!
If you’re really not sure what you want to do you’re better starting off broad and working with a cross section of clients (even if they are pro bono) and narrowing down as you go.
Once you have worked with 20 or more clients you will start to form an idea of which types of clients you look forward to working with. And the ones which have you hoping will cancel at the last minute.
Ask yourself the following question:
‘If my phone were to ring right now and the person on the other end had me metaphorically punching the air with delight as they told me of their problems because I knew I wanted to and could help them – what would they be saying?”
They are your ideal client.