Why have a niche? Because different beats better.
Commodities compete on price. Two professionals in the same market doing the same job for the same client will compete over a subjective measurement of better. If the services are truly identical, “better” and “cost” will be indistinguishable and cheaper will win. Trying to be better results in a race to the bottom.
A professional with a niche market addresses their clientele as unique. Their clients see themselves and are seen as special. Think non-cookie cutter or custom. These clients are willing to pay a premium for niche knowledge and specialization even when the functional products and services are similar to what they’d get elsewhere (what’s the difference between a grocery bag and a Hermes? Everything).
Niche wins because specialization:
A. Makes people feel better by way of uniqueness, not just price, and therefore
B. Is worthy of a premium.
Stephen Wershing says there are six types of niches we can choose from to be different and not just better. These work best when they align in some way with our own personal identities. There’s no right answer and some people will find more than one. The purpose of this list is to explore which types we find empowering.
Affinity: based around a common social circle (playing a sport, watching a sport/team, youth/kids activities, etc.)
Values: based on shared philosophy or values (religion, politics, civic engagement, etc.)
Educational: serves clients who need/want to be educated on some specific subject (charitable giving, owning/operating a small business, etc. – educational = content creation and curation)
Experiential: based on creating a different sort of client experience (Interactive engagements, online-only services, house call only, etc.)
Psychosocial: serves clients with a common psychosocial profile (recently divorced, other specific life transitions, etc., think of anything there could be a support group for)
Technical: clients seek someone with deep expertise in a specialized area (specialist medical, legal, and financial practitioners, etc., anything that can be narrowly defined with a high knowledge hurdle)
Niches work by aligning the value we can create with the identity our clients already possess. It’s one thing to see the big picture and another to understand how we all fit into it. Niches create convenient comparisons. Wershing’s full post provides an excellent starting point for having that conversation with ourselves and our teams. Different beats better, so be a little weird, get a little more unique, and figure out how to stand out.