or, Why You Should “Niche”

Have you ever heard some small business “guru” tell you that you should narrow your product or service offerings down to just one “niche”?

If you’ve read through Maximum Customer Experience’s archives, you know we’ve talked about the subject once or twice. (It’s near and dear to our hearts here at MCE.) Nicheing—choosing a niche, or a specialization, for those of us who get tired of guru-talk—can make it a lot easier to explain what you sell, to figure out who wants to buy what you offer, and to stay focused as you grow your business.

But let’s say you do something practically everyone does—something that’s grown so easy to do, it almost seems as though we don’t need professionals any more.

Writing, for example. At the risk of shooting my own blog in the foot, we’re all capable of putting together a headline and a few paragraphs these days, if we choose to.    🙂

Perhaps something so newly accessible, that customers become more selective (and price-conscious) almost weekly. Like handcrafted goods. (Has Etsy made things better or worse for cottage-industry artisans?)

Or photography, where the technology is now so good that everyone’s an Ansel Adams at least once in a while.

If you’re facing this commoditization in your industry, you need to focus in on your niche with Pinpoint accuracy, now more than ever.

Go Impossibly Small, Grow Improbably Faster—3 Big Reasons Why

Niche Equipment

When you’ve chosen a niche within your field as your specialty, you’ll begin to put together the gear you need to be the very best within that niche. Whether your “gear” is tools, gadgets, or even specialized staff, choosing a niche allows you to concentrate on making those acquisitions without having to be sure you also have a little of everything else.

The result? You can be ready for those jobs you’re best suited to more quickly than the competition, and because your gear is already in place, you may be able to provide a better cost to your customer, as well. Nicheing gives you efficiencies within your specialization that your generalist competitors just can’t match.

Niche Expertise

In the beginning, you’ve just got to find the specialization that interests you and grabs your Ideal Customer’s interest and go for it. You’ve got the knowledge, but now you’re going to hone in on only this one type of offering. If you’ve been a generalist to this point that can seem a bit scary—like “giving up” potential, rather than like gaining prowess.

One truly cool part of nicheing is that the more you do only one thing, the more you are the expert that you began by claiming you were. You hone your knowledge and you develop confidence, because your efforts are super-concentrated. Your audience grows along with your expertise.

When you are The guy who…, you finally develop the recognition for your expertise that you never could when you were one of a million who…

Niche Joy

Simple but true—the more you know it, the more you love it and obsess over it. And it shows. Everybody wants to work with the guy who knows their stuff better than anyone else.

Easy + Accessible + Great Technology DOES NOT EQUAL Doom for these guys

And it doesn’t have to for you, either. Ever heard of:

William Wegman, THE Weimaraner photographer

Paul Nicklen, THE Arctic/ polar photographer

Anne Geddes, THE baby photographer

Annie Leibovitz, THE celebrity portrait photographer

With a camera like practically everybody’s got and a very, very determined focus, these folks made themselves into the only name many people think of in their respective specializations.

Along the way, they picked up some gear that each of them could not do without. Clothing, gadgets, staff, and even a network of help they can call on—the “equipment” that enables them to pick up and go at a moment’s notice. Equipment that makes their work the best that their expert eyes could hope for. Equipment that is so specialized, that most of it couldn’t be of any use to the others on this list—even though they all all experts in the same business.

Along the way, they became known as experts and started getting called on by Big Boys—book publishers, speakers’ bureaus, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, and many more.

Along the way, they each became known for the obvious delight they take in what they do. Clients and fans gravitate toward them—all because they decided on a niche and stuck with it.

If these people in one of the most copy-able, most commoditized of industries can use a Pinpoint focus on their niches to succeed, what’s holding you back?

Let’s hear about your niche expertise in the comments—what are you THE one of?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson