Are you struggling to home in on the right niche? Maybe you’ve identified a good niche, doctors, for instance, but you just haven’t hit it off with members of the that niche so far. Sometimes it helps to realize that occupation is just one aspect of a good niche. By breaking down your niche even more specifically, you can better target your marketing message and your services. Even if you’ve been in a niche awhile, and you’ve been doing niche marketing for eons, it’s good to comb through your book to identify these trends.
- Demographics. Age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, occupation, income level. Do you like working with one age group better than others? How much income do they usually have? As you analyze trends in your book and think of your best clients, are they generally in their 50s—or 60s or older? With whom do you best connect? Same with gender and marital status. You may find that you really hit it off with one gender more than the other due to shared interests. That’s a marketing edge—along with possibly your ethnic background, if you find yourself tuned in to a unique community. Marital status can also further define your niche. I knew one advisor in Arizona who examined his client base and realized the vast majority of his clients were single, like himself. So he started marketing to singles. Demographic information gives you insights into clients that go beyond their occupation and income level. But nevertheless, you should examine your book for all these demographic trends.
- Work setting. Public or private sector, blue-collar or professional, employee or entrepreneur, retired or still working. Do you like working with entrepreneurs who run their own small companies and make decisions quickly—or are you more comfortable around corporate executives working for a large company who possibly are more methodical in their decisions? (The same is true for doctors—do you like working with doctors who own their own practices, or those who work in a hospital setting as employees?) Maybe you have a lot of retired teachers or public-sector employees in your book. I knew one advisor in Long Beach, Calif. who worked with blue-collar retirees. Another advisor in Atlanta marketed his retirement services to AT&T employees. Your own background and decision-making preferences will guide you as you define the ideal work setting of your preferred niche. The work setting will greatly affect your marketing approach as you appeal to certain groups who have similar challenges and financial needs.
- Geographic. Location, population density. Do you work with clients mainly in your immediate geographic area? Or are you branching out across your city, county, state or several states? If you’re doing extensive marketing online through a blog, and social media—or even writing for national publications in your niche, it would make sense that you could pick up out-of-state clients. The narrower your niche, of course, the more you may need to reach out to a bigger population area.
- Psychological. Personality, hobbies, lifestyle, interests, attitudes, opinions. This is a fun part of defining your niche. Ron Carson of Carson Wealth in Omaha, one of the most successful independent advisory firms in the country, built his practice around golf, wine and Nebraska Cornhusker football—finding clients who enjoy those activities. I knew an advisory team in California who worked mainly with rocket scientists at Lockheed Martin and other companies because they enjoyed the cerebral personalities of engineers. You may decide that you really enjoy working with people who share your commitment to the environment, or to your religious values. I even knew one advisor in San Diego who decided to focus his practice on people who shared his political views. He didn’t want to make the opposing side richer—he wanted to help his own side. Take some time to analyze your book to identify if you’ve got a large swath of clients with similar psychological or lifestyle characteristics.
- Behavioral. Buying behavior, brand loyalty, benefits sought. This part of the niche equation may seem a bit more difficult to define, but it’s vital to look at what would prompt a member of your niche to buy from you—and to remain your client. How much money did they typically have to invest with you? What benefits are they seeking? You may analyze your book and find that there was a reason most of your clients came to you—they were getting ready to retire, they had just sold a business or they had just received an inheritance, or a legal or a divorce settlement. Try to find common threads of behavior among your best clients that could help you further identify the value you bring to members of your niche.
The above categories can help you slice and dice your niche, and provide helpful clues for marketing to new clients.