5 Steps to Identify Your Niche - International Coaching Federation

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5 Steps to Identify Your Niche

Posted by Brittany Salsman, ACC | December 14, 2020 | Comments (2)

How many times have you received the advice to “niche down” or “find your niche” or “identify your target audience.” Some even recommend getting so specific that you can craft an avatar of your ideal client.

While it is important to identify your specific area of expertise, it can be challenging to actually accomplish this. But to set yourself apart from other coaches, doing so is critical.  To start this process, let’s first step back to see the larger picture.

As you know, a foundational aspect of life coaching is your ability to view your clients as experts on themselves. They are the expert on their beliefs, opinions, attitudes and experiences. Your job as a coach is to ask simple yet curious questions that help illuminate various aspects of their being in order to generate new insights.

Likewise, you are the expert on yourself. You know your journey better than anyone else. It is only logical then that you look to your own story to highlight your expertise and identify your niche. Here are five simple steps that will help narrow down your ideal client based on the experience you discover in your own story.

1. Generate a Life Map

Pull out a sheet of paper and start with your day of birth. Move forward, one year at a time, making note of all the events, people and milestones that have contributed to who you are today. Include small moments and big moments, exciting moments and challenging moments, stagnant moments and growth moments.

Do your best to release judgment during this portion of the activity. Simply notice the path your life has taken.

For an even more visual and interactive experience, write each moment on a separate sticky note that can be manipulated independently from one another. You can even color code different types of life moments.

2. Remove the Definite “No’s”

Once your life map is created, cross off or remove the moments in your journey that reflect an audience with whom you know you do not want to work. For example, let’s say you have been through a divorce, but you know you do not want to work with divorcées. Remove that sticky note or cross it off your sheet. Only do this for moments where you experience a firm no. If you experience any hesitance, leave it on the list for now.

3. Identify a Key Moment or Theme

As you review what is left, notice which moments attract your attention. Are there key themes that run through multiple moments? Conversely, what is a single moment that was pivotal in your own growth journey? What parts of your life map make you excited?

4. Compile Key Learnings

Now, step into your role as a coach with yourself. Ask yourself what these moments have taught you. Write down in specific detail the steps you took to illuminate these learnings. This is your expertise. This is what you have to offer the world.

5. Name Your Niche

Finally, ask yourself who would benefit most from this expertise. This is your niche. These are the lives you can change. You may even develop a program leveraging the insights from your journey as a foundation that your clients can then apply to their lives.

From this place, your authentic voice can shine because it is your story. Your story is what sets you apart—not a cool website or a specific program offering or your logo. You are the expert on yourself and this gives you power and confidence.

When you can fully leverage your story as a way to connect with others, not only will potential clients be able to connect with what you’re offering, but they also will have an example, standing in front of them, of what is possible when they too do the work of self-discovery. They will not only see the benefits of coaching, but they will also see why working with you specifically is the decision they should make.

Headshot of author Brittany Salsman, ACC.

Brittany Salsman, ACC

Brittany Salsman, ACC, a former educator, was checking all the boxes until everything abruptly changed in 2017. A diagnosis of a brain tumor launched her into a life-long relationship with posttraumatic growth. She now works as an ICF-credentialed life coach and strives to help others experience this level of growth without the necessity of a traumatic event - what she likes to call "non-traumatic growth."

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (2)

  1. vikram.dhar@yahoo.com says:

    Thank you Brittany for this blog post. This is such an important topic for the new coaches, as the majority of new coaches will try to do what they think is going to work for them by observing others, not thinking about what they want to do. I have seen this happening with so many talented coaches, and eventually, because of frustration, they drop out.
    Such a simple way for new coaches to reflect on what can work for them.

    Warm regards,
    Vikram Dhar

  2. brittany@lifelivedbydesign.com says:

    Yes! So often we look to others for tips, advice, and approval on our journey, but the reality is we have it within us. We just need to find the seed, water it, and nurture it.

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