Finding and Expanding Your Niche Market

Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I read last week’s column about not treating women as a niche market. We have had a few meetings to discuss our natural niche markets. Unfortunately, we can’t seem to identify any. We work with retirees, single women, business owners, multi-generational families and others. None of these groups could be characterized as a niche. Why do we need a niche? How do we create a niche if one doesn’t really exist?

Dave T.

Dear Dave,

Why are you trying to establish a niche? Admittedly, I am a fan of niche marketing for many reasons, but I am wondering why this is something you are focused on right now. Is it part of an overall marketing initiative? Are you trying to identify your ideal client? Have you had success in one area and trying to leverage it? I’m always curious about the “why” behind the “what” because in many cases it helps direct my advice.

Not knowing why you are seeking a niche, I’ll assume you want to be more targeted in your marketing efforts. Even with the seemingly diverse base you outline, you can create some niche elements. Try these steps:

  1. Review your top 10-12 ideal clients. What similarities do they share? It doesn’t have to be retiree versus multi-generational; it could be the reason that prompted them to work with you, the family structure they have, the career path they have chosen, similar hobbies or interests they share or something else. In other words, look outside of the broad categories you listed, and find the themes to see what common alignment there might be.
  1. Identify whether there are similar personalities. Are they hard chargers, data-junkies, thoughtful long-term planners or quick-hit types? Sometimes themes in a niche can be more personal and more about the type of person and their decision-making preference or approach.
  1. Watch specifically for interests, be it charitable or hobbies. One advisor we worked with had a seemingly very diverse group until he dug deeper and realized there were a number of women bowlers in his client base. Identifying this allowed him to focus marketing and events toward this interest group even though the women were very diverse in their personal and working lives.
  1. Ask clients why they have chosen to work with you, how they view you and what they believe to be your niche market. I have had thousands of conversations with clients and COIs of advisors over the years and find sometimes the best ideas come from asking the clients directly. Seek input on this from clients you trust.

Having a niche market does a number of things: it gives you direction on how to market and create events (i.e. the bowlers), it gives you language to use in your marketing approach and it helps you to isolate where your niche market can be found. I applaud your efforts. Do ask yourself why you are undertaking this process though, and make sure there is a reason for it.