There is no doubt in my mind. The more focused you can be as regards your ideal clients the more chance there is that other people will recognise when they can recommend and refer you to people who need your services. But it’s not the only route to success.
You are not alone if you find the idea of focusing on a single niche or target audience too limiting. Perhaps you feel it’s too early in your career to choose a niche? Or maybe you don’t want to be restricted to one target audience? You might also be concerned about alienating existing clients who do not fit that niche?
I have seen how referencing a niche or specialism can be a successful strategy for many professionals I know, be they accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, speakers or whatever. I have also shared insights and ideas, as to how you can identify your niche, in numerous blog posts and articles over the years. But I also accept that not everyone is comfortable with the idea.
There are many reasons for resisting the advice of those who would have us be more focused than feels comfortable. Not all such reasons stand up to scrutiny but many do so in my experience.
However, I have also worked with plenty of successful professionals who run practices or businesses that have a pretty generalised approach. Others appear to have a focus that is, in reality, very non-specific. Many years ago I was a partner at BDO when their focus was on ‘Growing Businesses’. It felt like a specialism or niche but in reality it was little more than a simple a way of saying we’d deal with any clients who could afford us.
The modern equivalent is probably claiming to specialise in SMEs. Those who claim this focus probably feel they can tick the box of having identified a specialism. Except that they haven’t, as over 99% of all businesses in the UK fit this definition. So the claim to be specialising doesn’t really mean anything.
It is clear to me that many professionals don’t want to limit themselves to a niche. Even if they understand the logic and potential benefits of doing so, they are reluctant to do so. This is typically a mistake but it’s a common one and, in many cases, it is possible to compensate for this by choosing to STAND OUT from the pack in a different way.
Regular readers will know I have identified and reference the 7 fundamental principles that professionals can use to win more work and to be remembered, referred and recommended. No one needs to apply all seven. But it’s clear to me that the more principles you adopt the more effective will be your efforts.
Plenty of general practice accountants, generalist lawyers, financial advisers and those who work in larger firms are reluctant to reference a specific niche. I suggest this means they need to work harder on applying more of the 7 principles. This is more likely to be a successful strategy than claiming to specialise in a whole list of business sectors in which your clients operate. This approach tends to undermine the meaning of the word ‘specialise’.
By they way, the focus of this blog post is on those professionals who do not want to focus on a single niche target audience. Is this you? Do let me know what you think.