Have you ever been skinny dipping?
I’m guessing that even if you haven’t, that it has come up at some time in your life, either because you forgot your costume or you were being enticed into the water by a friend or lover!
Perhaps you’re a keen nude swimmer and you may even do it in the wild waterways you find, for added exhilaration.
Perhaps you are super shy and the very thought of stripping off for a dip fills you with horror?
Most of us are fine being naked in our bedrooms, maybe you’re even comfortable being naked in a communal changing room, but how do you feel about being starkers outside with the chance that someone could stumble upon you at any time? Less comfortable?
Whatever your thoughts, indulge me for a moment:
Imagine that you’re standing by the side of a beautiful lake on a sunny day. Though it is out in the open, the space is your own. There is soft sand beneath your feet and the water looks enticing, so much so that you decide it’s just too lovely to not take a dip in the cool water.
So you begin to undress, outer layers first and item by item you let go of the ‘you’ that your clothes represent. Finally you get to the last item, your knickers, off they come and then you’ve done it, you’re completely undressed.
Being undressed can bring out a range of emotions. There is something about being naked that makes you feel stripped, not only on the outside, but on the inside too. You are showing yourself to the world and saying ‘this is me’.
You may well be feeling a few different sensations at this point; butterflies perhaps, a mixture of feelings at the prospect that a stranger may stumble upon you at any moment and also feeling like you ‘should’ feel 100% comfortable like this. Maybe you feel like a child again, about to ditch the ‘norm’ and do your own thing.
Then you step into the water and something shifts. You start swimming, feeling the water flow against your naked skin. You have bared yourself to the world and discovered that it is in fact a liberating feeling, just being you.
You are as nature intended, no clothed identity at all on your being, you are you, unadulterated you, with no clothes to hide behind you are free to just enjoy the sensation that being truly you gives you.
So, the trepidation, anticipation, excitement and all the other emotions becomes liberation.
Where am I going with this and what does it have to do with branding!?
Well, the funny thing about niching is that it elicits similar emotions to skinny dipping!
You see, most businesses offer products and services that are suitable for a wide range of customers. So the idea of only focusing on ONE of those types of customers feels like being asked to work with your arms tied behind your back – limiting!
They get into a state of ‘identity’ of what they ‘should’ do and they don’t allow themselves the ability to just let go of trying to please everybody and instead focus on just being themselves (and this apples to small and large businesses).
I know plenty of business owners, who I have suggested to that they sharpen their focus and become a specialist, who have felt fear at the thought of doing so, even if their business suits it so perfectly!
They think about letting go of this generalist identity, stripping themselves of their other garments, their protective layer of ‘we do everything!’.
The prospect of being naked and offering what they are best at fills them with anxiety – ‘what if they don’t like us for who we are?’.
When you’re stripped bare you are allowing yourself to be authentic and never before has authentic branding been more important than it is today. Just look at some of the huge corporations that are doing their best to connect to their customers in a personal way.
Small business owners have a massive advantage in this, because they are run by a small team and so they can truly inject their personality into their brand.
So many businesses fear the prospect of ditching the everything and instead focusing on a specialism and shouting it from the rooftops.
Yet how many of us look for a generalist when we want something?
If you have accountancy problems you need sorted yesterday, you’re not going to be happy with just a general business consultant who does a bit of book keeping, a bit of accounts, a bit of strategy and a bit of lots of other things. Instead you’ll be on the hunt to find an accountant who can help you with your specific problem.
Same as if you’re getting married, you’re not likely to turn up at a general dress shop and expect to find the dress of your dreams! However, if you go in a wedding dress shop, that only sells wedding dresses, then you’re on to a safe bet that you’ll leave with a dress purchase.
If you want to have a cake made for your child’s 18th birthday, would you go into a general bakery to ask or would you search and ask for recommendations for the best bespoke cake maker you can find within your budget!?
If you have breast cancer, you’re going to want to be helped by the best breast cancer specialist you can find.
So, if we search for specialists and we WANT to work with specialists, why are we so afraid to be one!?
Another big misconception with niching is that you do have to do just one thing. This is simply not true. BUT you should market your different products and services to the right people.
If you have 1 product that can help 100 different types of people then instead of coming up with a generalist advert that tries to connect with everybody, and so connects with no one, you should be looking at the top 3 buyers of this product and advertising to them individually. Different, targeted marketing campaigns that speak to the individuals, connect with them and make them want to buy.
That is the power of niching.
You are seen as a specialist at what you do and so will be sought out by people with the problem that you can help them solve. So you get to work with the people you want to work with and attract buyers that are looking for you.
Don’t fall into the generalist trap – be brave, strip off and enjoy the liberation that comes from finding your niche and connecting with it.
I can promise you that once you start swimming you’ll realise just how liberating it is to be able to fully serve your specific market and be an authentic expert for them.
So, what is your niche? Who do you love to work with? How can you take your generalist approach and make it more specific? Comment below with your thoughts 🙂
p.s. If you’d like help untangling your own thoughts then I’d love to help you – click here to see the range of ways I can do this.
p.p.s. Have you seen 30 Days to Awesome Branding yet? If you are looking for brand clarity, a strong, authentic marketing message and lots of other great stuff to help boost your business ,then this is the course for you.