The best phrase you can get from a customer is: “It’s like you read my mind!”. Let me explain.
There is a lot of talk about the importance of niching down. It’s true, you should niche yourself as narrowly as possible. But it’s only when you understand why you should do it, that it actually becomes relevant to you. Until then, it is perceived (and I also experienced it myself) that by niching in on one thing, you automatically remove everything else. Well… yes and no, we’ll come back to that later.
If you don’t niche in, then what you create will suit quite a few people. That doesn’t sound completely unattractive, does it? You can theoretically get a lot of customers, but you also need to reach a lot of people. And in each customer segment, you have niche options that enthusiasts prefer. The “generic” (you know what I mean) is chosen if the niche is fully booked or if the generic is sufficiently cheaper. And then you as a customer might not be interested in a more complicated solution than what most people usually have, or – worst case – you are forced to “settle” for the other option. You don’t want to end up there.
If you instead niche in, so that you talk to a specific persona about a specific thing, then that customer will – sooner or later – find you, and that person will understand that you are exactly what they have been looking for and thus better than all the other options out there. Because you have defined your area of expertise “right on the spot” on what they need! And then you get the “mind reader” comment. And then you know the customer is yours until you possibly decide to do something else.
The benefit of “reading customers’ minds” is that it makes it more efficient for you to solve their problems. The more you match, the faster – and more accurate – delivery on your part. And higher customer satisfaction. And if you are an expert in this particular nerdy part of the customer’s problem, you can count on the fact that when that customer is satisfied with your work, they will talk to their friends about you – and the probability is quite high that the customer’s friends are also your potential customers. Birds of a feather flock together, you know?
Bonus for you: it’s quite nice to be an expert. Top name. The first one people think of when it comes to what you do. It gives you a fancy reputation, the ability to choose your assignments and, quite frankly, the ability to charge a premium price. You can’t do that in the same way if you have a broader niche – unless you’ve achieved “household name” status and can deal with “everyone”, because “everyone” wants your help with anything, as long as it’s you. Like Harvey Specter. It’s also quite nice, the question is whether in this case you have time to nerd out as much as you (actually) would like to in one thing, or if you have to settle for “assignment paddle”, where you bounce yourself back and forth between different competences? You tell me.
And one more thing: you need to niche yourself in order for the right customers to find you. There’s nothing to say that, once you’re working with the customer, you can’t do “all the other things” that you can also do, the things that you’ve niched out in the design of your core competences. Once you have the customer’s trust, you will definitely be asked to do “this too” when the customer realises that you have the knowledge. But to do that, you first have to become a “mind reader”.
I hear “it’s like you read my mind” quite frequently from my customers. Trust me, it doesn’t get old…