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01 May, 2012

Coaches – Know YOUR Niche By Andrea Harding

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Coach Plus Articles|Coaching Articles

Andrea Harding Know Your Niche
The question is; how do you know if you’ve chosen the right niche?

I have some experience I would like to share with you about the pain of choosing the wrong niche and my path to finding the right one.

In the early days of setting up my coaching practice, I went about choosing my niche, and I decided quickly that career coaching was the one for me.

I justified my choice by telling myself that I had carved out a career in a competitive environment, juggling the demands of family life and still maintaining some kind of sense of humor. So, surely I would be a good match for clients wanting a career coach, and I would get lots of paid work and be really successful?!

Once my website was up and running, I started receiving a number of enquiries from people who wanted to transform their careers. Some of those enquiries converted into paying clients with whom I worked with for an agreed period.

Over time, I began to notice a pattern emerge. Clients were indeed a mixture of men and women, from different age groups, from different commercial sectors and at different stages of their career journey.
However, the emerging common denominator was all these clients made tremendous changes to their lives as a result of working with me.

My thoughts turned to the enquiries that didn’t covert into paying clients. I knew my coaching services were really valuable, so why did a notable number of enquires fail to convert? When I started to reflect on the individuals concerned, I noticed these individuals had high profile careers and could be described as ‘movers’ and ‘shakers’.

During initial meetings I got the distinct impression these potential clients thought me to be “a nice girl, but not for me”. I got a strong sense the type of coach they really wanted possessed knowledge and experience to revolutionize their careers.

To be honest, I felt dashed that I hadn’t been able to cut the mustard. More enquiries came by way that I was unable to translate all of them into paying clients. Again I observed these people were of a certain breed.

And then the penny dropped. The coaching enquiries that I could not convert were clearly a very different from me. Despite my best attempts to build rapport there was still something missing.

I came to the realisation that in business, you can only be what you really are. It seemed to me that if I was going to establish myself as a coach, I needed to market myself to natural clients who could relate to me instantly.

So my quest become to understand what I was about, rather than to ‘choose’ a niche. I was asked a wonderful coaching question which really helped me to distill my thinking.

The question was: If a potential client had just met you, and was thinking about working with you, what would they ‘get’ about you in the first 5 minutes?

This question is really driving at; what is it about you that might motivate others to think about working with you? In other words, what is the essence of you?

To start with I couldn’t answer this question, but with reflection I began to understand that my style of coaching was highly supportive and nurturing. No wonder senior executives weren’t booking me; they don’t want to be nurtured, they wanted their coach to challenge, push and get results!

Once I had developed the theme of my coaching style, I could think about the type of client that might want to work with me, and Eureka, my niche was defined!

This eureka moment was pivotal to everything in my coaching practise. I changed my website so the look and feel was congruent, my business cards were re-vamped to give the right key messages and I chose advertising and networking events carefully.

So if you are struggling to define you niche, my top tips are:

1. Understand why you have decided to pursue a career as a coach

2. Understand how you come across to others

3. What feeling or sense would a potential client get from you?

4. Where does your previous experience or expertise lie?

5. Do you have any subject matter expertise you could marry with coaching?

Clients will spot it a mile off if you are trying to fake it. Have utter congruence and integrity with the messages you market on your website, business cards and other marketing material. The current economic climate is challenging but it will push you to set up a business that is built on solid foundations.

So on that note, and in the motivational words of the English poet, Sir Henry John Newbolt, “play up, play up and play the game!”

Have fun
Andrea

13 Responses to "Coaches – Know YOUR Niche By Andrea Harding"

1 | Lynne

May 2nd, 2012 at 6:57 am

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Knowing the right one for you is really important. Coaches help people to change their lives and help them achieve their goals.

2 | Oma Edoja

May 2nd, 2012 at 9:57 am

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Thanks for sharing your journey, Andrea. So true.
Some people choose a niche “because of the money.” However, as you’ve illustrated, there must be congruency and integrity in order to generate trust and steady client conversions.

3 | lizzie king

May 2nd, 2012 at 10:51 am

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I loved this story. It has particular resonance as I am just going through the process of working out what is my niche. Is this right forum to ask for more information on career coaching. What training did you do to become a career coach? I’d love to hear more.

4 | Karen Lashington

May 2nd, 2012 at 10:59 am

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Thank you for this input Andrea, it’s not often I respond to advice on the net, but this one has really helped me in transforming how I market myself as a Coach. Thanks again…Karen

5 | Debbie

May 2nd, 2012 at 11:02 am

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Thank you Andrea

I am glad that you finally found your niche – glad to hear your story and the final successful outcome

I am new to coaching but immediately became aware that it is vital to be congruent and build on exisiting skills

6 | Cesar

May 2nd, 2012 at 11:47 am

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Dear Andrea,

Thank you very much for clarifying the aspect of choosing the right direction. I am struggling with this for some time, and this gave me some new insights I can work on.

Regards, Cesar

7 | Malcolm Lugton

May 2nd, 2012 at 12:03 pm

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Excellent advice Andrea – in any professional area clients (and potential clients) will always spot a “fake”…. If you are working closely with people (as we coaches do) it is VITAL to be yourself…. for only then can you help your clients to identify “themselves” and what will (or will not) work for them…. Thanks for the timely reminder!!!

Mal :-)

8 | Jane Drapkin

May 2nd, 2012 at 3:07 pm

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Thanks Andrea – this is really interesting. I’ve bounced around between different versions of my niche, but posing the question about what clients would ‘get’ about me in the first five minutes is really useful. Thank you!

9 | tony munday

May 2nd, 2012 at 7:52 pm

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Hi Andrea,

for what it’s worth, as a ‘ newby’ starting this journey, I came to the same conclusion.
I have core beliefs and I live them. My experience to date is that ‘ authenticity of self’ is of prime importance in beginning the process of rapport building, let alone persuading people to part with their hard – earned!!
I am soon to retire as a Police Inspector. The coaching of colleagues, in a highly intense environment, over the past 2 years really ‘ floated my boat’.
My attendance at the 2 day Introduction to Coaching fired my vocational passions again!!
Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Best Regards,

Tony

10 | Denise Jacques

May 3rd, 2012 at 9:30 am

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Andrea, I’m so pleased that I read your blog! Until I had read it, I had no idea about how I would decide on my niche; in part because I tyhought I already knew. I understand how useful thos questions are now, because I can’t answer them either – yet! Thank you.

11 | Bronwyn Green

May 3rd, 2012 at 11:03 pm

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Hi Andrea. Great article. I have also been struggling with “what is my niche” and I was extremely thankful when I saw a discussion on the ICF Group on LinkedIn where a new coach asked the same question. Naturally I decided to see what the responses were :-) and one of the coaches, Mary Beth Shewan, stated “Your niche is you. Think about what you’ve struggled with, overcome, and achieved in your life that you now feel a passion for”. That was my light bulb moment – parenting while still looking after you. So my niche will be working with mums and dads. Your article provides additional thinking around the same point – what am I about, what is my coaching style and where is my experience. Thank you for the article. Bronwyn

12 | Sirli

May 4th, 2012 at 10:49 am

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Dear Andrea! Thank you so much for your insights! I know my niche since last summer/autumn but it always felt too broad and your questions will help me to nail it! :) Especially that my coaching style would be congruent with my message, website etc. Thanks again!

13 | Shirnette Bates

May 15th, 2012 at 10:15 am

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Thank you for sharing your experience Andrea, I’m also considering career coaching and am at the point of defining and developing my niche. Your insights have not only helped me to reflect on my position but has boosted my confidence.

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