How To Know If People Will Buy Your Services (Test Narrow Niches)

Here's my recommended path to discovering your ideal niche...

Exploration ==> Testing ==> Mastery

During the exploration stage, I recommend doing 2 things:

  1. Journaling the intersection between what you love and what others love to buy. 

  2. Then, it's productive to have as many niche interviews as possible (conversations with potential ideal clients) to discover for yourself what people are spending their money on, that is related to what you might want to offer. It will naturally build your empathy for your audience and market. There is no replacement for having at least a few such conversations yourself (rather than outsourcing this.) The more niche interviews you do, the more you'll be naturally motivated to test offerings in the right niches.

Once you've gotten some clarity from the above steps, move onto the Testing stage...
The Ultimate Success Formula is Experiment Learn Modify Repeat

The importance of testing your offerings with the market

Before we discuss the process of testing (confirming) your niche, let's take a few moments to explore the importance of "testing." 

Many entrepreneurs want certainty that their offering -- their service/program/product -- is going to do well in the market. I understand. You don't want to waste time or energy, nor suffer any embarrassment. 

You may be carrying an illusion that you will not fail if you simply do enough market research.

If this were true, then why do the vast majority of investments into the smartest startup companies (who have done tons of market research), often fail? Why is it that only a minority of the smartest, most productive, startups succeed?

The reason is that nobody, no amount of research, can guarantee the success of your offering. If you've never come across this truth before, I'm sorry to be the one to deliver you this message...

I've become a business-agnostic. I no longer believe in any one Marketing Formula or Business Guru. If you are being sold some formula / process that is supposed to guarantee your success, I advise taking a pause, and realize that you're simply being sold.    

What I've learned -- and has been confirmed by many honest marketing teachers -- is that the only reliable way to business success is to keep testing, testing, testing.

The steps mentioned at the top of this post -- journaling and interviewing -- help you narrow the many choices of what you might offer.  But then, you still need to test.

Your calling (and authentic business) is a partnership between your passion/skills and the Universe (which speaks to you about your business through market testing!)

Testing means to actually inviting people to say Yes (to buy) your offering, and see what their response is. Did they buy? Or was there silence? Or maybe there are objections or questions?  

You can ask them individually, or you can ask a group, such as via social media, through a webinar, buying online ads, etc.  

Don't think of it as embarrassment or rejection if they don't say Yes. Think of it as trying on different pairs of shoes to see which one fits. It's not about you as a person. It's about the offering and whether it's what your audience wants. 

The always-effective "formula" for business success -- if there is such a thing -- is to 
experiment, learn, modify, and repeat. That is the only way I've seen to "ensure" eventual success. Apply this formula, again and again, and it will bring you true knowledge of the intersection between your passions and what the market wants.

​This allows you to create an authentic business.

Why I recommend testing narrow niches

Adequate testing allows you to see which of your offerings deserves more of your energy, time, and money. Testing shows you how to create enough income to sustain and grow your business.

When it comes to your offering, choose a narrow niche to test. When you have an offering in a broad niche, you have a lot more competitors.

Example of a broad niche:

"I'm a relationship coach ... I help people with all kinds of problems when it comes to relating to their life partner."

When you offer services in a narrow niche, you have few competitors and yet, you'll have more referral partners.

Imagine that a client is going through relationship issues. There are several niches that can serve the various parts of her journey:  

  1. Getting ready to date (and perhaps before that, getting over a relationship breakup)
  2. Dating well (including how to write an authentic & attractive online profile)
  3. How to know whether someone is compatible with you and how to take a good relationship to the next level of commitment (or, how to end it gracefully) 
  4. Once you're in a steady relationship, how to deal with various challenges that arise, e.g. work-life balance, accepting & working with personality differences, engaging in a with family (yours and in-laws) in a healthy way as a couple
  5. If you have kids, there's a whole new set of challenges: how to remain loving as partners, how to parent well (that itself is a whole industry), how to deal with relationship problems in a way that models good behavior in front of the kids.

Each stage might be is its own narrow niche. Possibly, several of these could combine into one niche, or even separated out into more narrow niches. If you are a coach/counselor, it can take years to become a true master in just one of these narrow niches, let alone trying to be helpful to your client in all of them as "a relationship coach."
By narrowing your niche, you can then partner with other coaches who serve the other narrow niches, to refer clients to one another.

You are then able to master a particular skillset. Marketing gets easier (because you're speaking more effectively to a particular situation) and you have a lot more referral partnerships.  

​Instead, if you had a broad niche (relationship coach) you end up having a lot more competitors, and a lot less focus in mastering a specific skill.

Explore various narrow niches. Then choose and focus on just one at a time. 

You are not narrowing your identity.  You are not narrowing who you are as a person, and all your possibilities. 

You are simply creating an offer in a narrow niche to test it. You're not committing for life. You are taking on one skillset at a time, before you move onto mastering another one.
Create offerings for narrow niches makes marketing easier. Bring variety of interests & skills to color your niche.

Narrowing your niche doesn't narrow your hobbies & interests.  You can bring your interests, hobbies, skills, and variety of knowledge in order to make your offerings in the narrow niche more interesting, colorful, effective.

Also, you can have a broader brand, and yet, offer a specific service/product/program that is within a narrow niche. For example, you can build your brand with your own name and yet, have narrow offerings to solve specific problems. 

When one narrow offering succeeds, you can add another, and another, until you become a generalist, if you want to be.

​I used to have narrow offerings:
  • Social media training for professional coaches
  • ​How to use webinars to launch a service offering
  • ​Joyful productivity for spirit-based entrepreneurs

As I began to succeed with each of these offerings, I eventually integrated them into my current offering of 1-1 coaching. I am now a generalist, a one-stop shop for my clients who need guidance and support on growing their business & marketing.  

​However, before you have enough credibility and audience, it is easier to begin your offerings in narrow niches, then branch out as you grow your business.

How to explore multiple niches

When you narrow your niche, people will respect your business for having a focus. But you’re not a one-trick pony, and narrowing your niche doesn’t mean you have to be.     

You might receive requests to work with you that aren't part of your narrow niche.  That's fine in the beginning! When you're still exploring niches, it's OK to take on different types of work if it's handed to you. See how it fits. You might just love it.

You're also welcome to have different offerings in several different narrow niches. You don't need to list them all on your website (your brand might look too scattered.)  

Instead, as you have conversations with different people, you can give each person (or audience) the link to a specific offering you believe is right for them.

In other words, while you're still exploring, you can keep your website (and overall brand) more general, and yet have the specific/narrow offerings as "hidden" (or unlisted) webpages, that you can share when people need to see a particular offering. 

You can also speak to different audiences on different topics, to test various niches.  

You can also guest-blog on different topics for a variety of audiences.

Make it a game.

Consider the effort of growing an authentic business as a game. You are testing various niches to see what is a great fit for you, and what the market responds to.

The more tests you make, the clearer you get. The more you experiment, the more you win the game.

Keep creating & testing based on your market research; keep experimenting. There is no such thing as the "right" program / product / service for you to create.

Or rather: whether it's "right" is not for you to judge... it's for the market to tell you after you've released it.

​The more true signals you get from the market (from releasing your offerings into the wild) the better your intuition will be for your market.

Therefore, it makes sense to more casually (and quickly) create new offerings, so that the market can tell you sooner. You are testing still, before you invest more time/energy into scaling up a successful offering. 

For more guidance on how to test offerings in narrow niches, check out the 7 Day Startup methodology.  

If you prefer to watch videos, here's a 3-part series I made, accessible for free:

Would you like personal guidance, hand-holding, accountability and encouragement to effectively explore, test, and discover your ideal niche?  You are welcome to contact me to explore coaching. If we are a good fit, I'll invite you to become a client. If not, I can refer you to another source of support.

I wish you a healthy dose of curiosity, and a sense of play, as you explore and discover your ideal niche!