A conversation that always comes up when talking about brand positioning is whether to niche or not to niche. Niching is all about focusing on a specialised area as a way of creating differentiation within an industry. It is moving away from being the ‘jack or jill of all trades’ to becoming the jack or jill of one specialised thing.
Let’s say you are an expert when it comes to all things finances - financial advice, tax, accounting, and bookkeeping. You offer a wide set of services to all kinds of businesses. By niching, you could instead choose to focus on one specific service. This is likely to be the service that you love the most and one that you feel gives the most value. Another option is niching by choosing to focus your marketing on a niche audience. For example, you could become an expert in supporting creative small business owners (graphic designers and photographers who hate the numbers!) rather than all types of businesses.
Most people naturally have some kind of niche without having to think too hard about it. Maybe you have always worked with a certain type of client or your skillset lies in a specialised area. But when we talk about niching down, we are talking about strategically narrowing down what you do now so that you can start to become known as a specialist.
Why would you want to niche?
Specialisation stands out
One key reason why so many people love the power of niching is that it gives your brand an edge as you become a specialist in your space. Rather than being an expert in financial advice, tax, accounting and bookkeeping, you could become the go-to Accountant for creative entrepreneurs! This way, you will magically attract a creative audience who want to work with someone who is the go-to in exactly what they need.
Communication and marketing becomes simple
When you have a broad message, it can be difficult to communicate your key messages because there is so much to say. This can lead to hurdles whether you are creating social content, writing website copy or even delivering your elevator pitch. Once you are clear on your niche and your brand positioning, you will be able to communicate with ease and confidently own your unique message.
You don't have to be strict
If you choose to niche, you will direct your marketing efforts towards a certain audience and promote the specialised services that you want to focus on. But that doesn't mean you have to say no to other people who fall outside of your chosen niche. If your target audience includes creatives but a tradie is keen to work with you, you can absolutely still work with them if that’s what you want to do. Similarly, if someone asks you for a service outside of accounting, there are no rules to say that you can’t say yes if that’s what feels right at the time. Although your brand positioning strategy focuses on one area, the beauty is that you don't have to be strict with the rules.
Why wouldn’t you want to niche?
Niching sounds pretty good, so why wouldn’t a business consider a niching strategy?
New businesses don't need to niche
If you are new to business, I believe that it’s too early to be thinking strategically about niching. The first year or two should be an exploration phase where you have the opportunity to learn more about what services you love most and who you really want to be working with. You may eventually find a sweet spot and decide to niche but it is unlikely to happen in the early days. It’s exciting to think about the idea of niching and becoming a specialist in your space but it’s also important to relax and absorb all of the learnings that come your way in the initial stages of business
Niching may not be right for your personality
Niching works for some business owners but doesn't work for others. Some people love the variety of delivering a wide range of services and other like working with a mixed bunch of clients. I have worked with some amazing clients who are completely against the idea of niching but have continued to build successful brands. If you are not feeling the need in your business to niche down, then don't feel the pressure to do it because everyone else is. But if you are feeling misaligned and not in the perfect space at the moment, it could be worth considering.
Niching isn’t the only way to differentiate
Often brands actively niche because they want to be different and perceived as unique. They get overwhelmed by the pressure of creating a differentiation strategy when they should really be focusing on creating relevance for their target audience and nailing their message.
If you decide to niche, make sure the decision aligns with your business goals and your vision for the future. It shouldn’t simply be a way to stand out and create a unique selling point. There are so many ways to differentiate yourself that will help to create your own little sweet spot!
Creating a brand that oozes personality is one way to create difference and memorability. On the podcast, I spoke to Sam Bright about brand personality and how her brand Ads for Breakfast stands out in a creative way. Her brand name, her messaging and the old-school diner feel align perfectly with her audience and her personality. It allows her to stand out and become a memorable player in her space.
A unique message
As long as it is clear and executed well, a unique message is a great way to stand out above your competition. It could be as simple as a brand name or tagline. In a brand chats interview with Katherine Persoglia from Property Before Prada, we spoke about the topic of niching. The brand name of Property Before Prada, aligned with Katherine’s values, her beliefs within the industry and her long-term vision. It provided her with an edge that has supported the growth of her business.
Your personal brand
Your personal brand is one thing that will always be unique to you! By becoming strategic about how you present your personal brand and use it to amplify your overall brand message, you will create a unique perspective that no one will ever be able to replicate. This is especially relevant if you are a service provider working directly with clients and, therefore, a large part of your brand’s uniqueness. I love following Cherie Clonan from the Digital Picnic who has nailed her personal brand strategy in a way that perfectly compliments her agency through sharing her values, her thought leadership and her story.
A unique approach
Rather than specialising in a certain area, establishing a unique approach within your business, is a powerful way to stand out and become known for something unique. This could be a signature framework or style of work that you use to help guide your clients from where they are now to where they want to be. You may already have a personal framework, formula or idea that you can add some flare to and mark as part of your brand.
To niche or not to niche? My verdict!
Plenty of marketers and business coaches will tell you that niching is everything, but I don’t believe that everyone needs a niche. I think the priority when it comes to brand positioning should be thinking about what makes your brand unique.
Differentiation is key but how you choose to differentiate will very much depend on your unique business, your stage of business and your vision for the future. Differentiation may incorporate the decision to niche down your services or your audience category. But it may also involve a personal brand strategy or building on a unique and creative approach that is synonymous with your brand.
What does differentiation look like for your brand? If you’re still unsure of how to stand out in the right way, book a brand therapy session to discuss your differentiation strategy!