BY DEVOTING all your time and attention to understanding the needs of a chosen market, you develop an understanding of the business challenges they face, the times of year that you should or should not approach them, and the terminology and language of their industry.
This “tacit knowledge” is an invaluable and essential tool that enables you to prove to clients that you know their world.
How can you develop or define a niche market within your client base, and what are the implications of making the decision to pursue just one industry?
First, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have a niche market in my client base?
- If not, do I want to pursue creating one?
- What industry or type of person do I enjoy working with?
- What is a specific need I can offer to this market?
- How much time am I willing to devote to developing this market?
- How high do I want to climb, and can I get there by myself?
These are all very important questions you should consider before setting out on this path. Without considering the implications of success, your current abilities, or the additional skills or relationships you will need to attain these goals, you could be setting yourself on a path that will ultimately waste your precious time, damage professional relationships, and create business obligations or opportunities that keep you away from the ones you love and the things you enjoy doing when you’re not at work.
The first step in evaluating the value of pursuing a niche market is determining if you can offer knowledge about a specific product or solution that will address the needs of a particular industry.
My product is focused on providing new doctors with guaranteed coverage that can protect their income throughout their careers. It addresses a specific need in my country.
Your solution simply has to address a common issue faced by an industry in your country. It could be critical illness coverage or voluntary benefit programs for the employees at technology companies, engineering firms or any other industry trying to recruit and retain employees.
It could involve asset-protection strategies for employees or executives in an industry that’s subject to litigation. It just has to be something that addresses a common concern shared by an industry.
The next question involves evaluating if you have the makings of a niche market in your client base. We know it’s easier to sell a second policy to an existing client than a new policy to a prospect. The same can be said of building a niche market.
Having a common set of clients immediately establishes credibility that you can promote to similar organizations through referrals, direct solicitations or participation at industry events.
If you don’t have a group of clients in the same industry, don’t worry. Not having an existing market gives you the freedom to build a market based on the skills you currently have or would like to learn. It allows you to spend your time working with people you enjoy.
Another vital question we need to ask ourselves is, “What does success look like, and how long am I willing to commit to getting there? What is the price I’m willing to pay?”
Many of us have heard the phrase “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s important to consider how high you want to climb, and what the cost of getting there is.
For some people, climbing Mount Everest is the goal, while others just want to get to a height to have a good view of the valley below and spend time with the ones they love. These are personal decisions that should be considered.
There aren’t any wrong choices. You simply need to consider how you define success. Does your pursuit focus on a certain percentage of market share, a specific territory or a specific revenue goal?
You also need to consider what happens if you are as successful as you would hope to be. Would your success require that you be away from your family? Would you need to bring on more people to help support the clients you wish to secure, and do you want to develop and manage a team of sales or service representatives?
For me, my market focuses on creating a national platform that can provide local and responsive insurance advice to physicians regardless of where their educational or professional pursuits may take them. It’s not about the commissions; it’s about the integrity of a business model that addresses the client’s needs and circumstances.
This choice has cost me many nights away from home that I’ll never get back, and I’ve only been able to do this because of the support of my wife and family. But we knew what it could be before I started this climb.
Tips to establishing your niche market
- Establish a presence with a client in the industry.
- Understand that smaller organizations may have more time and openness to collaboration.
- Deepen your knowledge of the industry by subscribing to trade journals.
- Join local industry associations as vendors and attending their meetings.
- Look for ways to increase your value by identifying and serving additional client needs.
- Recognize that this takes time.