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Business Coaching Leadership

Forget niches, think about serving the smallest viable audience…

… and that could be an audience of just one person, though not really recommended for your main gig. It’s a great start for a side-hustle though.

I’ve been seeing “niche-reports” in the form of swanky PDFs and videos (most of which, like a 99.99999%, would be gated) floating across the internet for the past three years. And frankly, nothing has changed much. The three mega niches (as per Eben Pagan’s “Niche Intelligence Report” — don’t have a link, just Google it!) still seem to be:

  1. Health & Fitness
  2. Dating & Relationships
  3. Business & Money

Ideally, you should be building a business that focuses on one of the aforementioned niches. But do you have to? I’m not sure.

For me, everything boils down to the person or audience that I’m serving. But it’ll be stupid of me to say I would like to serve 1,000 people in the next 5 years. I definitely would like to narrow it down to a particular geography or perhaps consider the ideal demography or psychography if my plan has to make any sense.

I know, I know. That’s elementary. But believe me, even established companies that are going through transitions don’t do it. At best they would chalk up a “customer avatar” and put it in a powerpoint presentation for internal circulation. What follows, however, has nothing to do with the ideal customer they had identified!

I’m not against creating “customer avatars.” I think they’re a great step to learn more about the kind of people your business would like to serve. But there’s still a risk of being a little too vague. Particularly when it comes to marketing outreach. It’s quite possible that there are 1.89 million people across the world that exactly match the profile you came up with. What then?

Stuck?

There’s no freaking way to target that audience. It’s a wide net and there are no guarantees. Sure, we can try but marketing is about speed and efficiency. Let’s not forget that.

The past few weeks I’ve been thinking in lines of the smallest viable audience whom I can serve. Sure, what I do as an executive coach and strength coach do align with the top 3 “mega-niches,” but that’s not the point. I just wanted to share an illustration of what’s possible when we focus on the smallest viable audience. And let me just take in “executive coaching” as an example here:

  1. Whom do I serve? Executives of Fortune 500/100 companies and entrepreneurs/owners who own small and medium businesses or start-ups
  2. Besides coaching skills, what else am I bringing to the table? My 16+ years of experience in communications, customer support, training & development, and marketing/content marketing
  3. Where do I have a head start based on what I’ve been doing recently? I’ve been in communications and more specifically with a marketing agency for the past 5+ years. It makes sense for me to serve marketers since I quite understand their biggest pain points, frustrations and professional challenges. I also know how all that affects their ability to lead, think clearly and be decisive. They’re overwhelmed and often under pressure to perform. Why? When things don’t work for organizations, marketers, and training & development professionals go first! Also, there’s constant pressure to prove the ROI, get more done with fewer resources/budgets and other silly things that the C-suite often miss out on.
  4. Why do I have a shot at being trusted by them? I’ve been (through the organization I work for) a trusted service provider to some of the most influential brands in the world. I can speak their language. I know their pain.
  5. Why would they choose let me in? They probably won’t. Marketers always have their defenses up. But if I’m able to speak their language and to their pain, I believe I can get their attention. Everyone was to resolve their challenges and problems. While I can’t make them go away, I can give them the right tools to handle themselves and their situations better.
  6. Based on the above, what could be three different possibilities for my smallest viable audience? 
    1. CEOs and other senior leaders of (digital) marketing agencies;
    2. CMOs of Fortune 50
    3. CMOs of Fortune 500 companies that focus on Marketing/Communications/Advertising and/or PR
  7. The smallest viable audience that I can start with serving? CMOs of Fortune 50 companies based in [country].

Do you see the pattern of questioning? It digs down into the basics and focuses on what you have to offer than leverage what’s out there and can “work” for you. Also, if you noticed — I’ve narrowed down from thousands of prospects to basically 50 people (can’t imagine a company with multiple CMOs)! That’s focus!

See, everything boils down to basics.