Have You Ever Been Stereotyped? (To Niche or Not to Niche)

First of all do you say “nitch” or “neesh”? I feel snobby saying “neesh” so I stick with “nitch” even though I took a good amount of French when I was younger.

Qui-Qui Messieur!

Yeah…I don’t want to sound like this guy ever. Feel free to punch me if I do.

We have heard for years that we should identify and operate in a niche in order to position ourselves as experts, solidify our place in the market and create a steady stream of clients. There is ample information supporting the identification and operation of our business in a specific niche. The recommendations are that we should select a subgroup of a larger group, hone our skills in working with this subgroup, become know for doing so and market ourselves to this group as personal trainers, corrective exercise specialists, performance coaches and more.

Let’s explore the process of selecting a niche. For example take a mainstream market like health and fitness enthusiasts. Within that market there are multiple groups. One may be individuals who are interested in enhancing their sports performance. A subset of this group are people who have the goal improving their tennis performance. An even more specific niche could be adolescent tennis players. You want to make sure that your niche is large enough to provide a customer base for you. Left handed, female, eighth grade tennis players with read hair may be a bit too fine of a niche.

Okay she’s not a teenager…but pretty close, she is a red headed lefty!

This might sound familiar for those who know me as I have worked with hundreds of adolescent tennis players over the past 9 years or so. (Yes I have worked with a red headed lefty or two.) Now to become an elite service provider for this niche you need to understand the needs, goals, wants, socioeconomic and peer influences of this group. You need to be able to assess them and build an integrated/comprehensive training program that is flexible enough to adapt to their hectic teenage lifestyle and the unique demands of their sport. From injury prevention, to nutrition, to conditioning to you name it, you have to know it.

To become an expert in working with this niche you truly need to be able to administer and adjust all aspects of this program as it pertains to tennis. Yes human movement is human movement. I have said that for years, however how one applies solutions and programming changes within each niche. A generalist may not understand the nuances of working with a teenager never mind a tennis player.  A specialist will have cultivated this experience over time.

A specialist may have to invest some time crafting their elevator speech depending on their niche. Their source of client referrals me be fewer than the generalist but each source may be deeper and profitable. A specialist may even turn away business if the potential client has goals unrelated to their niche. Their career is invested in developing great depth in a relatively narrow area. I once worked with a real estate lawyer who said he “only knew one inch of the universe but it went for miles deep.”

Deep or Wide?

On the flip side years of experience as a generalist may provide a practitioner with exposure to a varied client base . They will most likely have developed  creative and flexible strategies. The generalist may enjoy working with a diverse client base and receive referrals from multiple sources. The monicker “Jack of all trades and master of none.” may stick. A generalist may have an easier time describing what they do and may call themselves a personal trainer and find a plethora of referral sources. They are regularly presented with opportunities to learn how to work with different types of clients. This may help them to foster alternate skills. I have worked with 5-10 clients who used wheel chairs as their primary means of ambulation. My expertise grew with each client even though each situation was very different. I began the journey away from generalist and by comparison was the most experienced in my gym working with clients who used wheel chairs, but I was far from an expert.

Either path can be lucrative. Either path can be gratifying. What do you want to be know for? What do you enjoy more?

Which One Are You?

Thanks for reading

Eric Beard
CEO A-Team
Corrective Exercise Specialist


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