New entrepreneurs are told: “find your niche”.
I'm not arguing this approach doesn't work. It's been relied upon by marketing gurus for generations. Certain products and services are suited to this.
I heard about a fifth grade teacher who made millions selling a digital course targeted to other teachers in public schools across the United States. The course taught a unique approach to teaching math to fifth graders. Clearly, there's a niche here! And her marketing should have been, and was, geared to its audience.
Or take a career counselor who helps lawyers transition out of law. There is a clear niche audience here too.
If you have a product or service that is naturally suited toward an obvious niche, it makes sense to speak your audience's language. Be up front about exactly what it is you do and how you can help your target market.
Many entrepreneurs who struck it rich did so by identifying a niche and going after it. They'll tell you to do the same.
Maybe you've had success serving all kinds of clients, and it's not easy to see a common thread between them. When you're really talented, you can serve anyone who comes to you.
Niching down feels limiting, artificial, and forced.
Often it's an outside-in approach. A kind of reverse engineering that omits the soul of what you're offering.
If you have a message that's moving through you, and you feel like a part of you will die if you don't get it out, that takes precedence. And it may appeal to people you've never even thought of.
Your “niche” may be a certain kind of consciousness that runs through any gender, age, or demographic. Those people will come to you, and they won't all look the same. But they'll share the same values and desires.
Over time, you may see a pattern emerge in the people who come to you. You can start speaking more about those themes, and word may naturally get out that you can help with a certain problem. There you go - there's your niche, showing up organically, magnetized by the truth you're speaking.
Or you might have products or service lines that address a certain audience, but your broader business isn't limited to these.
I find it interesting that at a time when we're realizing how harmful stereotyping is, we're still advertising to “suburban women aged 40-44”, or whatever it is. As if we're automatons, with the same interests and problems as the rest of our demographic.
This is a very basic understanding of how to market. It's not without its utility. And clearly, it produces results, as multi-billion dollar corporations can attest.
But if your goal is to enjoy the journey, to stay in integrity with the deepest levels of your destiny, to offer humanity something that can spur it to evolve, to feel alive every day on the job, and to rest easy at night knowing you're offering the full extent of your gifts - you're likely going to find more luck by allowing a niche to unfold (if it ever does) rather than forcing it.
Keep sharing your message. Keep offering what you know to be the deepest, most creative, most effective work, even if it's not so easily translatable to snappy marketing copy.
Leverage the best of the lessons the marketing world has to teach you, without losing what you know to be right for you as an individual.
It might take longer for your work to get noticed. You may have to “hold the pose”, as one of my mentors says (likening waiting for success to holding a tough yoga position). But if you resist shortcuts, you'll feel good about it every step of the way.
Shout out to my friend Nathan Hirschaut for encouraging me to write about this. He's an amazing creativity coach - check him out here.
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