Branding & Niching: are they just a waste of time?
Ever been in a situation where you’ve read and/or heard something that made your blood boil? So much so that you had to come forward and make a stand for what you truly believed was fundamentally important?
This happened to me last week, where on three separate instances other business professionals were advising their clients (coaches) with (what I believed was) incorrect information and therefore were setting their clients’ businesses up for disappointment and ongoing struggle.
Following these approaches in your business can seriously jeopardize your ability to build a solid reputation as a go-to-person in your industry and building a loyal clientele who love your work and would happily refer you – or not.
Hopefully you won’t recognise any of them. And if someone suggests these things to you – you’ll know better.
Business Branding & Niching Mistake Number 1: It’s not important
The first situation was when I was speaking to a Health & Wellness Coach. She had been struggling to get more clients for quite some time and was at her wits end.
A few years prior she had invested thousands of dollars with a business coach and internet marketer and had worked closely with them to implement a number of things within her business.
- She now has a website, which looks quite impressive
- She continues to write regular articles
- She has her social media profiles set up and is actively sharing information with a growing community
- She has a range of programs she can offer to suit prospects’ needs
- She has been involved in a number of JV opportunities, and through partnering with others,
- She has built a sizable list of subscribers that many coaches would envy
But (and it’s a BIG but)… she still isn’t getting any new clients.
In my opinion it’s because the business coach and internet marketing guru forgot two MAJOR elements in their work with her, which was now negatively impacting everything she had put into place. They were:
- Understanding her niche market and getting totally clear about her ideal client (including demographics and psychographics)
- Unearthing her ‘Inner Brilliance’ (her unique attributes, characteristics, core values) and other vital aspects that would help her create a powerful and magnetic Signature Brand
Unfortunately, never once were these two key elements considered as she continued to build her website, her articles and programs/packages etc.
Business Branding & Niching Mistake Number 2: Service Businesses Don’t Need to Build a Brand
The second situation was an article titled “Forget Branding” that went on to say that service-based businesses (i.e. coaches. consultants and solopreneurs who were selling their services and expertise) shouldn’t bother with building a brand.
The author (a Marketing Specialist) posed the question:
“Can Services Business be Branded?” to which he responded, “In my view services and brands are not related, altho’ many practitioners would have you think they are.”
Hmm, what can I say other than “what a load of *&^%.”
Does he honestly believe that service-based businesses can’t and shouldn’t build a strong brand? Which planet is he on?
Your ‘brand’ is your reputation. It’s what other people think about when your name is mentioned.
Everything you do and say, how you show up can impact your reputation (i.e. brand), positively and negatively if you’re not careful.
Business Branding & Niching Mistake Number 3: Go out and get clients and worry about niching and branding later
The third situation was a business coach who believed it was important to ‘build value’ and to work with as many clients as possible and then go back and think about niching and branding later.
Sounds wonderful. Unfortunately though, this is often what keeps coaches and consultants stuck.
Let’s take a Life Coach for example.
She follows this business coach’s advice and offers her coaching services to a diverse clientele with numerous issues. When you read through her website you see that she can help you if you are struggling with your relationships. Oh, you have a problem in your career? She can help you out there, too? Did you say you have a phobia of spiders? The steps she follows in her coaching program can help you get over your arachnophobia too – in just one session. Smoking a problem – guess what, this Life Coach can help you give up smoking in 3 simple steps! She can do it all!
I wonder if her business coach has heard of the saying: “Jack of all Trades and a Master of None?”
Personally, if I were struggling with my marriage, I’d want to see a relationship counsellor or an expert who specialised in that area. My marriage is far too important to me.
If I were unhappy in my career, I’d rather go and see a Career Coach who was specifically trained in the area of careers to help me find a job I love. After all, I spend so much of my life at work, I’d want to seek the help of a specialist – not a generalist.
Trying to be all things to all people can often lead to disappointment, exhaustion and frustration. And if your goal is to be build your credibility as a specialist in your field so that you can boost your hireability and get paid what you’re worth, being seen as a generalist and a ‘jack of all trades’ will certainly stop you.
Business Branding & Niching: Are they important and relevant?
Yes, Yes YES!!!
I believe these two things are paramount if your goal is to build a reputation as a specialist in your field to get noticed, booked and paid what you’re worth. This is why I spend time working on these two elements with my clients in all of my programs.
Understanding and defining your niche will allow you to create programs and packages you know your ideal client will want to invest in. This is because you’ve spent time listening and observing your ideal client to see what he/she is struggling with.
This information will allow you to better tailor your message to speak directly to their needs. Your brand voice and your message will connect with your ideal client. And, you can tailor your services and programs as a solution to help them overcome their problems.
Identifying and defining core elements of your brand will ensure you build your credibility and will distinguish yourself in the market place by incorporating your Signature Brand in everything you do. Including:
- Your Brand Voice: the words you use in your articles, flyers and sales pages
- Your Brand Design: the look and feel of brochures, images and fonts
- Your Brand Persona: your mannerisms and your body language
- Your Brand Style: the clothes and accessories you wear
Once you have these key elements in place, not only will you start to attract the attention of your ideal client, you’ll also quickly boost your credibility and reputation as a specialist in your field, which in turn will boost your hireability.
Prospects will want to invest in you because of the reputation you’ve been building and because of the value you offer to your ideal client.
Do you think niching and building a strong brand is important? Or do you believe you can build a successful business by providing a diverse range of services to anyone and everyone? Let me know in the comments below. I’m interested in your thoughts…
Following you in the last year I know how passionate you are about these topics. As a matter of fact it is your online content in this area that drew me to you.
My take away in the last year from you on personal and professional branding is if you want a “JOB” build a business. If you want to be known as an entrepreneur and business owner who is an expert or specialist in your field build a brand.
I strive to build the latter – a brand. This is why even though I got my start in the Virtual Assistance industry, providing Virtual Assistance, for which I am deeply appreciative I’ve never used the term in my business name and try to steer clear of it in my marketing as the term Assistant connotes a job mindset to prospects IMHO. I prefer the word support as it connotes collaboration and fits nicely with my vision of building a brand.
Hi Michelle, thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments, which I totally agree with. To become known as an expert/specialist in your field is almost impossible if you don’t niche and take the time to build your reputation as a leader in that industry. And, understanding your unique qualities and all of the key elements you need to know when building a strong brand is just as vital if you want to stand out from the hundreds of other people in your industry. Especially if you are in the service industry where ‘YOU’ are essentially selling your knowledge/expertise. What I also find interesting is that the women I have spoken to (such as yourself) find this very important. Yet many of the men believe that understanding and building a strong brand and niching is no longer relevant. Even more interesting – the three examples I mentioned in my article (re the business coaches, internet marketing guru, and the marketing specialist) – all were men. I wonder if this is a coincidence OR another huge difference between how men and women behave and make decisions when it comes to business. Hmm, I wonder…
Annemarie: I have pretty much stopped listening to guru advice. I feel like I am walking blindly towards my goals, but following the advice of others did not get me anywhere in the past. For the most part, I am trying to stick to my niche. Sometimes, I branch out around the web to other sites I enjoy, but that is not too often. I do not feel like I have to be an expert, but I just want to be able to connect with my readers and I want them to be able to connect with me on a personal level.
Hi William, when I first started out in my business I felt a little like you – frustrated at what I was being told by so-called gurus. Thankfully, I didn’t shy away from seeking help, and I was able to find a mentor/coach who understood my business and was able to support me in the areas I was struggling.
Through the support and advice I received from my mentor/coach I no longer felt as if I was grasping at straws, ‘hoping’ that the next thing would work (and the next, and the next – I’m sure you know what I am talking about). What I was doing did work, so I continued to implement these things in my business. One of the most important steps was niching and identifying my Signature Brand.
As far as building your reputation as a specialist/expert, this is something that will happen, especially if you continue to bring relevant, informative and inspiring information to your audience. People begin to trust and respect your advice, and ultimately will see you as the ‘go-to’ person.
Annemarie my insightful philosophical self says there is a reason for the skew in women more invested in personal branding than men.
1. Women are born nurtures while men are born hunters. So what does this mean. There is no finesse to hunting while one can easily argue that nurturing takes some degree of finesse to it.
2. Historically women have lived in the shadows. Everything they’ve owned have either been given to them by someone else or some one else has part or majority ownership.
Personal branding is our way of putting our stamp to the world and laying claim to our own individual but collectively identities. Personal branding is our way of doing this because it allow us to bring our own style and essence or as we say in the coaching world our secret sauce to the menu. Men are not interested in these things. They are hunters – find an avenue to make money, make the money and get out. There is nothing nurturing about this. They are not into touch feel stuff which is what they may be viewing personal branding.
3. Men has never had to break the glass ceiling it has always been women who were unfortunately stereotyped in the corporate world. Now today women are creating their own glass ceiling by being the fastest growing demographics in the start up entrepreneurial world. Most women entrepreneurs may run their business like a corporation but you;d rarely find them moving away from their true nurturing roles.
Again just my 10 cents.
Totally agree with you Michelle. This is one of the reasons why I prefer to work with women. Having said that, there are some men who understand the value of personal branding and are more nurturing in nature. That’s one of the reasons why ‘heart-centred’ solopreneur is something I refer to when speaking about my ideal client (and very much who I am). My ideal client will understand that (whether a man or woman), however the business person who is highly competitive and cut-throat in their business dealings and doesn’t believe it’s important to be passionate about the work they do – they’re not my ideal client. Happy for them to look elsewhere for a business coach 🙂
I totally agree with you Annemarie. Without having a target market and specializing in a particular niche, you’ll be just spinning top in mud. I can attest to this from my own personal experience.
In order to get to where I am now, I had to take a mindset shift first and realized how changing my approach and thinking towards a target market and a specialization can be helpful. I feel much more authentic in my conversations with others. I chose a land to drive in and I am sticking with it after going through a lot of trial and error. I only wonder why I did not do it 2 years ago instead of wasting all that time, money and energy spinning top in mud.
Annemarie, this is a great article. I came across it surfing the web, as I am currently in a bit of a dilemma with my own business! Previously, I never saw the real need for niching, though I’m now discovering how valuable it could be as I can’t even describe who my ideal client would be! On top of this, I’m struggling to get hired, precisely because, (I think), I’m presenting myself as the ‘jack of all trades’ that you describe. I too am a Life Coach, though my biggest dilemma is what niche to choose! I am looking forward to receiving your ‘7 Steps’ strategies, anyhow 🙂
Hi Leighton, it’s so wonderful to connect with you! You are certainly not alone when it comes to the topic of niching; many years ago when I was starting up my Career Coaching practice I didn’t niche either. But looking back to where I made a significant leap forward in my business, was when I took the time to define my ideal client and target market. Not only did I start to attract this type of client, people in the industry started to see me as a specialist in my field, and to seek me out. It was incredible, so I can highly recommend you take some time to really think about who you want to work with and who your niche market really is. I hope you enjoy the audio series – I’ve tried to provide a brief overview and a few worksheets to help stimulate your creative juices. Looking forward to hearing how you went!!