I love the niche. Love it. So much so that I have whittled my ideal client profile and training style down to a very small demographic. Some say this is foolish: “You’re limiting your potential client list.” “You’re not playing the odds.” “You’re going to miss out on potential revenue.” I smile at this feedback, knowing their concerns are unfounded. The secret of the niche isn’t in its size. It’s in its skill, in what it offers and what it solves.
Here are my three favorite niche advantages — the reasons why it’s like the dubious date who turns out to be a terribly good kisser.
1. It gets beyond the surface.
I could throw a rock in any direction and hit a trainer who says they work with young and old, men and women, athletes and the obese. When you train absolutely everyone, you seem to offer nothing special. You look like every other trainer out there. You may not be, but the client looking for help with their particular problem just hears a lot of white noise and can’t see beyond your similarities to everyone else. Different is attention grabbing, and that will set you apart. Give potential clients a reason to consider you: Specialize.
2. It limits you — and thus empowers you.
Being an independent trainer requires a lot of empowerment. Having a focused, limited client base actually opens doors for you. It exposes you to recurring needs, and that will force you to come up with better and better solutions. Your clients will appreciate that. And, if you’re an above-average trainer, you will reach out to practitioners who share your focus on the same demographic. This can create a very organic network, an educational resource and a potential referral stream.
3. It gives you the power of no.
Having a niche allows you to say “no” more often, and that is a good thing. Don’t just structure your niche so that it plays to your strengths, structure it so that it allows you to steer clear of your weaknesses. For example, I recently spoke with a busy trainer who was clearly annoyed by his “average Joe” clients’ poor commitment outside the gym. Not only is this not good for the clients (people should work with those who believe in them), it’s not good for the trainer. It promotes burnout and frustration. I’d love to see this trainer focus strictly on recreational and professional fitness competitors. It’s what he loves, and it would help him avoid the client base that isn’t a good fit.