the case for narrowing your focus
Everyone struggles to narrow their focus. For me it came down to the fear of missing out on potential customers. How will I find enough work to pay the bills? Surely, it makes sense to offer more services to attract more people?
Why should I narrow my focus?
Although it makes sense logically to offer a broad range of services, in reality it actually impedes your success, as you begin to be viewed as an all rounder, not a specialist.
When we have a problem, we want to deal with someone who will fix it straight away, first time without any mistakes. We want to deal with professional and more importantly, we are prepared to pay much more for the services of a professional than we are an all rounder.
Professionals are specialists in one particular area or discipline because their knowledge of that area is vast as they have spent years learning about it. We respect their knowledge and don't question it. Think of how we all respect the opinions of Doctors, Dentists and mechanics.
If you want to start commanding this level of respect and charging higher rates, you need to narrow your focus and establish your reputation as a specialist in a very particular area. This starts by defining both your target market and your niche.
Target Market vs Niche
What is the difference between a target market and niche? Your target market is the audience that you are going to be pitching your services to and your niche is the service that you were going to be offering to that audience.
So in order to narrow your focus you must both define who is your target audience and what niche will you be offering them. Here are some examples:
- Target Market: Artisan Coffeeshops / Niche: Branding
- Target Market: Personal Trainers / Niche: Website design
- Target Market: Luxury Hotels/ Niche: Content Marketing
Your first step on the road to becoming a professional is to define your target market, then your niche. Once you've done this you can then start with your audience.
Getting to know your audience
The advantage of narrowing your focus is that it becomes very easy to pinpoint who you are talking to. You can get very specific in your messages and craft compelling stories that will really resonate with them, which in turn will position you as an authority in your industry.
You can begin to ask them questions about their business. What are their everyday needs? What are their longer term goals and aspirations? What do they struggle with?
When you know their needs, goals and struggles, you can begin to offer comprehensive and effective solutions to either solve their problems or help them achieve their goals and because your solutions are very specific, they are far more appealing. Everything you do will be about showing your depth of knowledge and expertise at solving problems unique to their industry.
As you are going to be one of the very few people who are talking to this specific target market in a very unique way, you'll blow the competition out of the water. Over time you will get to know more more about your audience which only cement your reputation as an industry leader.
Knowing where to market your services
It also benefits you to know who your target market is as you can maximise your own time marketing your services to them. It's easier to find out: Where they hang out? What they read? Do they go to any events or meet ups? Who are the influencers within that industry? What are the most popular websites and blogs?
By knowing this, you can focus all of your energy trying to get in front of them. You can go to these events, offer to feature on influential blogs, collaborate with influencers.
Not only are you getting in front of potential customers, but you will be the only specialist at these events, giving you a greater chance of attracting new clients, as you will have little to no competition.
If you take the example above of a website designer who works with only personal trainers.
- How many personal trainers would attend a web design event? Not very many.
- How many web designers would attend a personal trainer event? Not very many.
So from this we can conclude that if you are a web designer looking for clients who are personal trainers, you won't find them at a web design event. However if you were one of the few webs designers who attended at personal training event, you would be surrounded by thousands of potential clients with little to no competition for your services. #goldmine.
Narrow then wide
But surely if I narrowed my focus, I won't be able to offer anything else?
Absolutely not. The plan is to build and establish your reputation within your target market for the niche service you offer and then offer more services to your current target market. In the example above we mentioned web design for personal trainers, so an example of additional services could include logo design, branding, social media marketing etc.
Alternatively you can take your expertise and branch into new target markets that are similar to the one you have established yourself in. These could include gym owners, yoga teachers, nutritionists etc.
To sum up
The reason for narrowing your focus is to accelerate your progress. To establish your reputation and allow you the opportunity to use the status and respect of being a specialist to branch out into other areas.
Think of it like a fire compared to a blow torch. We've all seen the movies where they have to rescue someone tied to a chair in a metal bunker. If you just lit fire to the door, it would take hours, maybe even days to burn through. However, with a blowtorch it takes seconds. They are both using fire, but the difference is that one is concentrated, narrow and focused and the other is spread too thin to make an impact.