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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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Everything you need to know about finding your niche: Part 3


In the last part of this mini series on how to develop a profitable niche as a trainer, Heather Townsend looks at how to develop and capitalise on your niche.
Firstly, congratulations. The hardest part about niching your training business is actually committing to doing it. So many trainers only half-heartedly commit to their niche, and so wonder why it doesn't seem to be having much of an effect on their overall marketing effectiveness. By the way, if you find yourself saying, something to the effect of:
"well I really do everything, but my real specialism is in..."
...this is only half-heartedly committing to your niche.

Audit your business's current offline and online footprint

The first step in this process is to do an audit of your online presence and your marketing collateral. This will include (as a minimum):
  • Your LinkedIn professional headline
  • Your LinkedIn summary – particularly your experience and skills section
  • Your short and long professional bio
  • Your website's front page
  • Your website's 'about me' page
  • Your blog's strapline
  • Your business card
  • Your twitter bio
If any of your business footprint does not shout out that you are a specialist for a certain audience – and I really mean, hit you between the eyes, can't miss, kind of shout out – then you need to re-write your copy, and refocus your blogging efforts.
"Go through your network and identify who are the key influencers who will be able to help you generate more clients for your niche. These are the people you need to spend more time with."

Audit the company you keep

As they say, like attracts like. So, if you are not socialising and operating in places where your niche and other suppliers to your niche hang out, then you probably need to take a long hard look at your network and address book. Go through your network and identify who are the key influencers who will be able to help you generate more clients for your niche. These are the people you need to spend more time with. Write a relationship plan for each of these key contacts and diarise this plan.
You will need to check your network in the following places:
  • Are you in the right LinkedIn groups?
  • Do you follow and interact with potential prospects, introducers and key influencers within your niche on Twitter?
  • Who is on your mailing list? Are these the right sort of people to help you attract clients from your niche?
  • Are you booked onto the right industry conferences?
If you have chosen a niche where you have a long track record and high levels of credibility, it is very likely that you are already socialising with the right people – both online and offline.

Identify the products and services that your target market will want to buy

Now that you have a clear picture of who your target market is – for example, retailers, micro business owners, freelancers, it's time to find out the problems that they have. Then to determine which of these problems you can solve and who in your network can solve these problems. Your aim is to be able to add more value to your clients by being able to bring in others to solve the problems you are not qualified to do. For example, I am often called in to help professional service firms sort out their social media strategy; then train their staff in joined up networking skills to be able to implement the strategy. It's a fairly specialist skillset. As a result, I don't try and solve my client's wider commercial development problems – I call in others to do this for me. Likewise, they do the same when they have a client who wants to develop a social media strategy as part of their overall business development efforts.
Now that you have identified the problems that are endemic to your particular niche, it's time to rank these problems. This means you can now prioritise which are the services and products your clients are most likely to be motivated to buy. For example, is it getting teams to work together effectively across multiple locations or getting middle management to step up? Or even, getting board rooms to play nicely together and act as a true team?
Now you know what are the critical priorities of your target market, it's time to design an offering, which may involve others, to solve these problems. This could be sample course outlines, a development programme, a bespoke coaching programme, a suite of elearning modules etc. Even though you may never deliver these actual courses or programmes, they give you credibility and something to base a discussion around with potential clients.
"Now you know what are the critical priorities of your target market, it's time to design an offering, which may involve others, to solve these problems."

Draw up a prospect list

Now that you know whom you want to work for and what services you want to provide, it's time to start targeting prospects. One of the ways you could do this is to draw up a target list of 20 companies within your niche who you want to work for. If your niche is more about individuals – e.g. people looking to move into a freelance career, then draw up a list of publications and places where you want your content to be seen, and a list of people who can help you get in front of these people. 
Once you have your target list in place, it's time to devise strategies to meet those people. This is where your online and offline networking strategy starts to kick in. If you want some ideas on how to do this then my book, the Financial Times Guide To Business Networking, can help you with this.

In summary

To develop and capitalise on your niche you need to make sure that you niche is very evident in your branding, both by what you communicate about yourself and the products and services which you offer to the marketplace.
Heather Townsend helps professionals and firms become the go-to-expert. Unusually for someone with an Engineering Degree, Heather accidentally became a writer and used her knowledge on social media to write the current best-selling and award-winning book on networking, The FT Guide To Business Networking. (75 five star reviews on amazon). Heather regularly blogs at Partnership Potential, Joined Up Networking and How To Make Partner And Still Have A Life

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Heather Townsend


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