Identifying and Researching Your Target MarketIn this podcast I was joined by Nanci Biddle, who called herself “The Boundary Queen.” Her website is www.yourcoachingpartner.com. Nancy and I discussed how a coach can effectively research a new niche market, and connect with prospective clients. Nanci described her niche market as “Baby Boomers taking care of Mom or Dad.” Tune into our discussion about researching your target market. Plus, we’ve added some bonus material below regarding choosing your niche. Enjoy!

Why should a coach choose a niche?

It does seem counterintuitive but in fact you will get more clients by narrowing your focus. Think about this. If you had a broken leg, you might go to a general practitioner, but more than likely you’d consult an orthopedic specialist. The only reason to choose a niche really is for marketing purposes. Anything you write about, anything you say, your materials, your website, anything that presents “your face” to the world – you’re creating with that niche in mind and appealing to their specific needs. For example, I like Nordstrom’s. I’ll go to Target rather than Walmart. There are businesses I simply feel more comfortable in, simply because I’m in their niche.

What’s a good way to narrow down a niche?

You don’t really find your niche. Your niche finds you. You receive your niche. For example, I coach new coaches who want to develop their practices using spiritual principles. I started out coaching entrepreneurs because I was an estate and financial planner. I started coaching people I had worked with such as lawyers, planners, accountants, and insurance agents. I got going very quickly and eight months into my coaching practice I received my ACC (in those days it was 250 hours). I was a coaching machine! 😉 The coaches around me said, “What are you doing?” The coaches I knew were still getting their websites and their marketing brochures done. I didn’t have a website. I didn’t have a business card. I didn’t have any of that. I had a niche of entrepreneurs that I knew. A good friend of mine who took coaching training approached me at the ICF conference and asked, “Could you coach a group of us coaches to help us get started as quickly as you did?” Sure!

I put it out there. I left it out there. People hired me and I grew into it. First, pick something that you’re good at and share your success stories that potential clients can relate to. Decide what you’ve been successful at, that will give you clarity and credibility.

Then ask yourself, “Who do I love to coach, and what conversations do I love to be in?” All coaching is life coaching. All coaching is spiritual coaching. So it doesn’t really matter what the conversation is – my clients are going to get to a spiritual place. Yet it helps to pick a conversation that you like to have. The conversations you really enjoy, day in and day out. The more I narrowed, everything got easier and easier.

Once you declare a specialty, how can you still keep yourself open to coaching those that fall outside your niche?

You’re most attractive when you’re in a relationship and “you don’t need one.” Employers recruit talent already employed at existing companies. It’s the same with your niche. When you declare your specialty, you’ll become more attractive to everyone. I will say to people, “I coach and train coaches.” There are people in the outside world that go, “Oh my gosh, you must be the top of the line coach. That’s the coach’s coach! That’s amazing! I know you coach coaches – I’m a business owner, would you be able to coach me?” I’ll respond with, “Why don’t we talk about what is your goal and let’s talk about it.” So people will come to me that are not coaches that want coaches because of who I am and also because I’m so clear in what I do. My clients find me perfectly. Second of all, people who aren’t my clients can refer people to me. It does take personal belief that it will work this way.

How do you research a particular niche? What is the best way to find out what their needs are?

Some kind of informational interview, whether verbal or survey. I’m so grassroots, I say just really informally start asking around you, do you know of anybody. Create an interview with them. They might even enjoy a 10-minute chat on the phone. Or prefer a survey at midnight. Find out what they would like – “What’s the best way that I could find out a little bit more about your needs?” Probably something that’s not time sensitive.

If I created a survey, what are some great questions to ask?

The first question I would always ask are, “What are your top 3 challenges?” This alone would give you a wealth of information. I might also ask…

  • “In the next 6 months to a year, what could you put in place that would really support you? What have you been thinking about?”
  • “What do you need the most help with on a day-to-day basis?”
  • “What would that help be worth to you in dollars? Could you put a price tag on that help?”

Where else could I display the survey besides on my website?

Email people you know and in industries that make sense, so for example, nurses who seem to know a lot about the families managing in-home care. Some of the assisted living directors could probably answer your survey, maybe a little differently. Churches, Salvation Army – these social agencies giving in-home care can support you in finding people. Brainstorm ideas with your coach to identify organizations you can partner with to get more information. And nowadays it’s so convenient to post quick surveys on Facebook and Twitter – you may find that people may respond more quickly to a question here and there, versus a longer email survey. Try out different formats and see which works best for you!

Do you have a target market? What creative techniques have you used to research your niche? We would love for you to share with us!