Ask Abby, Marketing Maven

Creating a Niche When There May Not Be One

Dear Abby,

I have been to many of these courses that are designed to help you market.  Some of them detail how you need to create a niche market for your firm in order to properly expedite growth.  That by creating a niche, you become an expert for that type of client and can easily expand your client base.  I agree and understand this in theory, but in practicality, my clients are all very diverse.  I started in this business over 15 years ago and as such I have a mix of clients ranging in size, demographic and profession.  What does an advisor like me do in this case to create a niche market?


Paul, Los Angeles

Dear Paul,

I cannot tell you how many times we hear this same question; advisors who have been in the business for awhile -and are very successful- trying to figure out what their niche is or if they can create one at all.  The answer is not an easy one nor is it one you might want to hear.  In my opinion, unless you have a substantial group of clients that are in a specific industry or the same demographic, it becomes very hard to suddenly create a niche.  It’s not as if you can wake up one day and say “You know what? I’d like to be the advisor for the LA Lakers” and go out and accomplish that, although I am sure it has been done before somewhere.

I would ask you to start by taking a very close look at your clients.  Do you see any that you can say are lumped together in a specific category (doctors, divorced women, families with special needs, local small business owners in a certain industry)?  It is true that once you have a group of these clients (by group, it can be as small as 5-6 of them); you can start to position yourself as an expert to their unique needs.  In most cases, you can then ask them for their help in introducing you to more like them.  If they are happy with the service they have been receiving from your firm, then most likely they will be agreeable to bringing you into their network.  Then you can make a conscience decision to market exclusively to this group.  The one thing I would encourage you to do though, is make a conscience decision to NOT prospect or take new clients outside of this group if you are serious about creating a niche practice.

As an example of an advisor who has been successful at creating a niche where none existing before, one of our advisors happened to gain a new client who was an owner of an independent grocery store.  The store itself is part of a franchise-like business model.  This initial client, after only one year, has introduced him to 5 other independent grocery store owners within that franchise.  It turns out there are at least 50-60 others locally that he can now also tap into.  He has decided to focus his attention on this group and really tailor his services based on what this unique niche needs.

I hope this helps you and good luck with the investigation!


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