What’s Your Niche?

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When it comes to marketing, sometimes we are more talk than action. Specifically, take the frequently recommended idea that you should have a clearly defined niche. Ask an advisor what his or her niche is, and a typical answer is something like “retirees and pre-retirees.” That’s a big niche. It’s also the same niche that everyone else has—well, at least a majority of advisors.

The logic of the response is perfectly clear because, after all, that’s where the money is. But it puts everyone who is 50 and over in one bucket and assumes they all have the same issues and needs. When we do that, it’s no wonder marketing efforts don’t work!

Based on a quick Wikipedia search, let’s agree that a niche market is “the subset of the market on which a specific adviser is focusing.” It is generally a small segment of the market with which an adviser does so well that other firms are not tempted to enter. Because the niche represents a small and targetable portion of the market, its members are not covered by mainstream providers. Hence, mass marketing doesn’t address the specific issues and needs or desires of this group.

If one starts with identifying a niche, the next step is to drill down. For example:

  • Within your selected niche, who are the most ideal clients?
  • What are the hot buttons of those clients?
  • What makes you uniquely qualified to address those hot buttons?

Too often the answer is, “I’m uniquely qualified because I genuinely care about my clients.” That’s quite a “dis” to the rest of the industry—believing oneself to be the only person who truly cares.

So although marketers preach about the value and virtue of having a niche, most advisers don’t have one. Instead, they continue to focus on a wide swath of prospects. And the swath is so big that it is difficult to be uniquely qualified to address their clients’ hot buttons. Moreover, it is difficult to effectively market to reach their ideal clients.

Do you think advisers should become more focused on a specific niche? Or do you believe that this notion is all unnecessary hype?

Joni Youngwirth
Managing Principle of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.

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