We often recommend to our clients that they identify and develop a niche—and they often reject the idea. Many of these professionals are concerned that specializing in one area will keep them from getting work in others. That’s understandable, but the truth is that in the final accounting, having a niche typically helps professionals get more work—including work outside their specialization.
I encountered an example of this recently, when my husband and I were on a trip to Krakow, Poland with a group of Americans. We were having dinner with some people from the group and the conversation turned to families and work. One man told me that his son, an architect, specializes in designing libraries; he has worked on libraries around the world. Apparently, the son didn’t set out to specialize in libraries, but rather designed one library; was asked, based on that project, to design another; and found himself in a niche.
Or perhaps “found himself” isn’t the right phrase. I’d bet he saw the niche developing organically and took advantage of that opportunity. And I’d bet he gets more commissions—including non-library commissions—because of it. After all, in marketing a professional service such as architectural design, a specialization is a point of differentiation, and points of differentiation help keep professionals at the top of potential clients’ minds. When an architecture project comes up, library or not, a potential client is more likely to think of this architect—because of his library niche—than if he were just a “plain vanilla” architect. There’s a reason they say there’s riches in niches.
So, professionals: Look over your client list and see if there are any natural clusters there. If there are, and there’s potential in that area, consider building a niche around it. It doesn’t mean you can’t market yourself outside the specialization, but it does mean you can begin focusing—and focusing always means more effective marketing and better results.