The Disobedient Business® Podcast

WTF is it with this marketing obsession with niching? [Part 2]

February 06, 2024 Lucy Parfait Season 3 Episode 2
The Disobedient Business® Podcast
WTF is it with this marketing obsession with niching? [Part 2]
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to part two of our episodes about niching. In this episode Pippa and Lucy talk niching from a The Disobedient Business® Co. perspective following on from the great episode with Pippa and Liz Goodchild from last week. 

 In this ep we talk about; 

  • Lucy's experience with niching 
  • Niching as a protective behaviour 
  • ADHD and niching
  • When niching might actually be helpful 

And if you haven't already, make sure you go back an episode and listen to Part 1 with the wonderful Liz Goodchild. 

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Come and chat on Instagram at @disobedientbusinessco


Pippa:

Welcome back, lovely people, to another episode of the disobedient business podcast. This, as you may know from previous episodes, is 1 of our compare, contrast, and discuss episodes. So this season is all around Pippa, that's me, meeting with, and interviewing a guest on the podcast. And then we follow each episode with a bit of a discussion where Lucy and I get to unpack that, probably more with our disobedient hats on than, might have already happened. And so today, Lucy and I and Lucy is here for the record. Hi, Lucy.

Lucy:

Hello? I'm here. It's me, Hi. I'm the Lucy. It's me.

Pippa:

Yes. Is that is that moment past now? I suppose it hasn't. Has it really? Taylor is evergreen.

Lucy:

Taylor never dies. She's ever more. That's for sure.

Pippa:

So this week we are talking about the episode I recorded with Liz Goodchild, which is called what the fuck is this marketing obsession with niching? And if you haven't already listened to it, this conversation is going to be somewhat out of context. So I would suggest you press pause at this point and skip back an episode, Go listen to Liz's episode and then come back to us. otherwise, it's all gonna be a bit weird. Right?

Lucy:

You oh, yeah. I can agree with that. That would be correct.

Pippa:

So this is a new format for the of the podcast. So I suspect in this first season, Lucy and I might be a little bit all over the place. but we'll see. You know, it's, forever a mini adventure. Right? And, we are taking you on it with us. So, Lucy, Share with me, if you will, your thoughts around Liz's episode. What was 1 of your significant takeaways, if I may?

Lucy:

Well, I'm so glad you asked. so to me, niche has always meant something super specific.

Pippa:

Right.

Lucy:

and having googled the definition of niching,

Pippa:

Oh, hit us with it. If you if you got it handy.

Lucy:

Yeah. I can. Let me just here's the tab I made earlier. a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.

Pippa:

Interesting. Okay.

Lucy:

It also means a Shallow recess, especially 1 in a wall to display a statue or other ornament, which I had no idea about and, have gone on a Google Images rabbit hole of various ornate niches. so I always thought niche meant something Super specific. And I think after looking at that, I think it does mean Well, obviously, it said specialized. but I was expecting it to kind of reflect that being like a really unique, a really hyper specialized, segment rather than just kind of just specialized we all specialize in things, don't we? Of people specialize in things. I think when I think about it in that term rather than niching, I feel a bit more like, oh, okay. 1 should be specialized to a degree in certain things.

Pippa:

Okay. So does this sorry. Pause pausing there for 2 seconds. So does this kinda link to what Liz was saying about niching, In her opinion, ain't all bad, because, let's face it, when she went to have an injection in her neck recently because of some muscular related things, She didn't want somebody that was just a generalized, doctor doing that particular thing. She wanted somebody knowing where exactly That particular injection needed to go right. So that's the example of being sufficiently specialized that you have the skills and the qualifications If it's appropriate to be able to do that thing.

Lucy:

Yeah. I think so. If I need something done with my eye, I'm not gonna go and see a family doctor, am I? Like, I wanna make sure I come out with my eyes working you know, Praise be for the family doctors, the gynecologists.

Pippa:

I do think we may have a bit of an international challenge here as well, because, of course, In America, fanny does not mean what it means in the UK. And for the sake of politeness as if there was a 3 year old around, It's basically front bottom, whereas I believe in America it means back bottom.

Lucy:

You're.

Pippa:

It is your food for your noony. Yes. Right. And segue over. Please carry on.

Lucy:

So, yeah, if I, you know, if I need LASIK surgery on my eyes, I'm not gonna go to my, you know, friendly local OBGYN, am I?

Pippa:

Hopefully, not. No.

Lucy:

No. Like, I'm I'm sure they've probably read a book, and I'm sure they probably have you know? I'm I'm gonna stop But, yeah, so I think you need to you need to have a specialism, and you need to kind of categorize yourself on some level.

Pippa:

Okay. Fair enough.

Lucy:

The main reason I think this is because of things like SEO and about your clients being able to find you. because if you take it if you were gonna say that I'm not specialized at all And you were gonna just go think about if you just put a website out that said, well, I'm Lucy Parfait. Okay. Great. Well, but Why do I care? What is Lucy Parfait? Like, why do I wanna give a shit about you?

Pippa:

Okay. So taking it right back to the literal, you know, what is it you're offering and broadly speaking who you're offering it to. And or what you're qualified to do,

Lucy:

Exactly. So I'm Lucy Parfait. Next level, I'm a coach. Full disclosure, I'm not a coach, but in this example, I'm a coach. Okay. Great. Well, are you a life coach? Are you a business coach? Are you a, like, women's health coach? Are you a, you know, what Why would I wanna work with you? so then you kind of bring it down again to say, in this case, let's say I'm a business coach. So I do think you do need to kind of categorize yourself somewhat because otherwise, That's a lot of vastness, and how would anyone know if they want to, work with you? And also for SEO and stuff so that people can find you in the vast ocean of the Internet. I definitely don't think it needs to be specific as I'm Lucy Parfait. I'm a coach who specializes in supporting women in the Greater Manchester area who are 45 years old, who are Left handed, have a dog under the age of 2.

Pippa:

I I I actually suspect that would be quite a few people, but but not in not enough to build a business on, for sure.

Lucy:

So, yeah, I think, yes, I think we do need to kind of I think can categorize ourselves a little, but I don't think we need to get super duper specific.

Pippa:

Okay. That is a great starter for 10. Thank you. So thoughts on that are around agree with you. And I think over time, you get more and more specific, in your business. You get more and more understanding in your business. You get more and more, to know what your likes and your dislikes are. And that will help you be more, specialized in what it is you're offering And who you're offering it to. And, of course, that then translates into the kind of language you use from an SEO point of view and so on. So cool. However and this probably links to 1 of the first things I wanted to chew over in in this episode, which was When you're a relatively new business owner and whilst our conversation with Liz, rather my conversation with Liz, was from a coaching point of view because Liz is a coach, I'm a coach, and so we had very much a a conversation about niching as a coach. I feel like this applies regardless of whether or not you're a service Based business and and even to a greater extent, a product based business, which is when you're in the very early days, particularly of offering services, The preoccupation that a lot of us tend to have with getting super specific, for all potentially good reasons or good motivations. I truly, truly believe, and we touched upon this in the in Liz's episode, Is as much, if not more so, a, what you might call a protective behavior as it is something that we believe Is absolutely necessary. so a protective behavior is essentially something that we engage with To stop us from doing a thing that will put us at what we perceive to be some kind of risk. Right? So we're not talking being chased by a tiger or being chased by a lion kinda risks, obviously. But our brains don't know that. They are, you know, they are hardwired to believe I perceive a risk, take risk avoidance behavior. And there are many things in the earlier stages of a business, and many ducks and things that you need to get in a row to have a viable business. Right? And niching, is but 1 of them. But all of them, and I think definitely, Neesha, because I see this a lot, is 1 of those things that if we just spend more time at our desks, If we just spend more time in a Google document or paying a brand specialist to talk to us about our business and get the language right or Work with a copywriter. Or whatever the whatever of the million things are that we, use to procrastinate, that we won't have solved that problem. And although on in our conscious brains, the 1 thing that we want more than most is to go out there and find clients that We love working with. we're protecting ourselves from doing that by not being quite clear yet, and as a result, not Taking any action until we are clear. And niching so unbelievably falls into that category. I have spent, hours and hours with clients in the last 6, 7 years being unclear about what their offer is or what their niche And being convinced and using this as something that stops them from putting that offer out there. And as Liz very eloquently said in in the last episode, the thing that gets you closer to your niche or, Specialization or whatever level of specific work, you know, you find that works for you is the doing. It's not the sitting at your desk. So all that the actual sitting at your desk does in that situation, apart from getting broadly clear, like Lucy just said a minute ago about, you know, I want to be a business coach and I don't know, I want to work in person and so therefore I I work in the greater this area, whatever. Okay. Fine. So that that level might be essential. But the absolute drill down to, I want to be, you know, to use the example that you see lose about somebody that lives in the Greater Manchester area where there's 45 and it's a woman and has a dog, etcetera, etcetera. We're just avoiding getting out there and putting ourselves out there. So Lucy, talk to me about how that lands. Does that sound real? Do you have any Thoughts on any experience you have of that?

Lucy:

I think my experience is possibly the opposite.

Pippa:

Oh, interesting. Okay. Come on. Give it to me.

Lucy:

I don't have a lot of experience of setting up a business in the real world, But I just the thing that came to my mind was Various projects that I did through school and university where we'd have to plan a pretend business in some way or pretend product, And they'd be like, well, who's it for? Who's your USP? And I'm like, well, fucking anyone. Anyone can come to my restaurant. I want it I want it to do all the things. Want it to be there for everyone. And they were like, no. You need to you need to get specific. And I'm like, no. I don't I don't I don't want to.

Pippa:

So is this like, well, I'm gonna sell Mexican food so it's just basically for everybody that likes Mexican food. End of.

Lucy:

Well, no. My thing was I was gonna have a world buffet so that everyone could come. It wasn't we weren't even gonna specialize by cuisine.

Pippa:

Oh, you were very anti niching, weren't you?

Lucy:

I was like, we're gonna have, like, a sushi area. We're gonna have a curry area, and we're gonna have,

Pippa:

Okay. Okay.

Lucy:

Yeah. We're gonna have all the things. because I was like, well, what why do we have to choose what we wanna Go to as a family for dinner. What if some what if Bill wants pizza and Fred wants sushi? Well, now everyone's happy. I made the people please the restaurant.

Pippa:

on the plus side, if you you were looking at this as a service provider, you're probably not having to account for an entire family's wishes and desires for the most part. Or certainly not for online businesses anyway.

Lucy:

No. So that was my thing was it was always drawn into me, like, have your USP. Be specific. and I was like, I don't I don't want to.

Pippa:

fair enough. I get that.

Lucy:

No. Thank you. Because in my mind, my business would do better if everybody could come. If there was something for everyone that

Pippa:

There there is a certain amount of logic in there. And look, listen. Listen, I touched on this. Which is I have a certain amount of Time for this idea of you need to specialize because particularly if you're coming at it from a coaching point of view, but again, I think it applies fairly broadly. When you're out there basically saying, I'm a business coach. Yeah. I am a business coach. Yeah. And, you know, what what's what's your particular flavor? Or, you know, how do I see myself Elf as a customer in your marketing, in what you're talking about. So in our example for you know, whilst Interestingly enough, I would never use the word niche to describe this. But we talk about disobedient business owners. We talk about business owners who A dumb with the status quo who wanna kind of fuck shit up, who wanna do things differently, who don't wanna just follow the same old same old, business rules and build a business that isn't them at all, doesn't speak to their values, etcetera. So whilst neither of us sat down and went, this is our niche, That is how our business has evolved. And I think that's the message. That's that's the core of what I was trying to get at when I said This obsession with niching is a a protective behavior. Because I started my I know you didn't join me until a couple of years ago, but I started my business 7 years ago now, 7, 7 a half. And I'm not gonna lie, I spent a long time worrying about my niche. I couldn't I mean, my niche has as many flavors and colors as my websites have over the years. And no, Lucy, we are not gonna get into that conversation because Lucy, for iterations of website I've had over the years. However, Every time I felt that there was a new niche, there was a new website. There was a new was I was I for perfectionist? Was I for this? Was I for that? And if I look back now, and hindsight is a beautiful thing. Right? My preoccupation was about getting it right. It was about, well, there's gotta be a right niche. And so I stopped myself, un unintentionally, because clearly that's not what I was trying to do, From working with what could have been 20, 30 clients over a period of time, to get to understand what my niche was, by trying to figure out what my niche was. Which is a little bit ridiculous.

Lucy:

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but it's definitely not red.

Pippa:

I knew you were gonna say that.

Lucy:

For everybody listening if you would like to tease Pippa mercilessly please send us an Instagram DM with something red in it, just Spam her. Spam the living shit out of Pippa with red stuff because red is Pippa's color.

Pippa:

There was a brief moment in 2018 when I was convinced that red might briefly be my color. It isn't for the record. I mean, look at my complexion. Yeah. So I had a photo shoot with well well placed red everywhere and Developed a website that lasted all of 5 minutes because new niche. new website happened. Anyway, let's thank you, Lucy, for thank Thank you for referencing that. So if niching isn't the answer, and certainly not in the earlier days, What is the answer? And it's really interesting because for me, it lives in this kind of I am the niche piece that Liz and I touched upon in the last And

Lucy:

I am the

Pippa:

I am the niche. Because when you're able to, Express the fullness of yourself in your business. The people will really resonate with that. And trust me, they will flock to you, in that situation. And so to my mind, in those earlier days, you would be infinitely if could rewind the clock back and convince myself, which obviously I can't. Much as, you know, past relationship decisions, if I could go back and see it for what it is now, and convince myself that there was another way. I truly believe that the other way is spending your time and or your money, on being able to be all of yourself in your business, than rather than working out what your niche is. And that is harder than it sounds. Sounds easy. Right? You know, a lot of people are just like, yeah. Course, I'm a hole in myself. Yeah. Are you, though? Are you, though? you know, how how influenced are we by Patriarchal culture, white supremacy culture, capitalist culture, as to what we should or should not be saying.

Lucy:

Maybe that's a service you could offer. You could do, like, a call with people, and then you could go and look at their messaging and go, no. I call bullshit. It's not you.

Pippa:

It's the bullshit audit.

Lucy:

Yeah.

Pippa:

That's not really you. You're just saying what a b c, successful, celebrity, coach, tells that you're you're supposed to do I mean, seriously, that's another subject. That's a whole episode that is. I truly, truly believe that, Whilst you need to get broadly in some kind of area of, what you're helping people with And and broadly what you're you know, who those people are. I'm talking broadly because people are going to be drawn to you. And if your effort was Split between and again, if I think about this in terms of all of the new coaches that I've worked with, all of the mini minders that I've worked with over the last 10 months now of the MiniMind being in existence, and that's, our MiniMind is for earlier stage business owners. So it's all people in their earlier days of setting up and establishing themselves. If there were 2 things that I could get them to split their time between, and then with a teeny bit of time left over for things like tech and set up and that kind of stuff, it would be Finding ways to be themselves and be visible in their businesses as themselves. and the second, would be Selling. The second would be, get in front of as many people as possible. If you're a coach, for example, coach as many people as possible. If you're a Graphic designer, work with as many people as possible. You're going to find your style, which then then ultimately leads onto your niche, or you're gonna find in it from a coaching point of view, You're gonna find the kind of people that you really enjoyed working with and some of the things that come up fairly frequently. And you're gonna start you're gonna find the people that actually was fine, but, oh, no. If I never had to do that again, that would be fine. And your niche, as Liz very clearly said in the last episode, will find you. Right? Lucy weigh in.

Lucy:

Yes.. So I actually had in my takeaway that you are your USP, p. And I think we've talked a lot in previous episodes. I know I bang on about it a lot. And at this point, I should get commissioned for how much I talk about Peter But the episode that we did with Peter, about having your values out loud and out proud on your website and what you stand for and what you stand against. I know that we, as DB co, have Definitely done other episodes and talked a lot about being yourself. I think that is important, So I think if you are you and you are living your values out loud and out proud, then to a certain degree, Your copy should follow as long as you are making sure that your copy is reflecting you. But, yeah, it kinda makes me think A little bit about, yes, a hundred percent. I agree that you are your USP and you are your niche because you are you. But just making sure that therefore in your copy that your kind of keywords of who you are is out there so that people can find you from an SEO point of view and making sure that when they get on your website or on your socials that therefore that's quite obvious about who you are and what you do and what you offer quite easily for them so that they're not having to do a shit ton of detective work.

Pippa:

A hundred percent. I mean, when it comes to make it as easy as possible for your clients to choose you. Yeah. I get I get that a hundred percent. Okay. So just throwing in 1 last reflection from or from me anyway, um, from the episode with Liz, and that is around spicy brains. So Liz and I touched upon the fact that, She has ADHD. I have ADHD. and that we tend to find that clients with ADHD and other spicy brained, elements end up working with us. And it's interesting from our point of view because neither us or or Liz, had ever really until maybe 4 or 5 months ago, Really mentioned spicy brainness on, social media or Instagram or anything like that at all. We talked about disobedience. We talked about people that are very much anti Status quo. And whilst that probably describes a good measure of, neurodivergent focus, feeling, about carving their own path and, You know, living in a society that's, that favors neurotypical brains. It's not something that was ever a pitch from our point of view. And yet, As a to use a phrase that Lucy would use frequently, neurodiverse folks are like poorly regulated wolves that flock together. and we are.

Lucy:

With the caveat that that's not a phrase that I invented. It's something I saw on social media

Pippa:

Oh, yes. Absolutely. But you do reference it Frequently. So I suppose that that got me thinking. So not just in terms of People finding us not because we were neurospicy, but maybe kind of was, but we weren't talking about it. So it wasn't anywhere near in the stated niche as such. But it also kind of flipping that thought process and thinking As folks who do have spicy brains, many of us, and I'm most definitely not gonna use the phrase spicy brains and All of us in the same sentence because we're all a a whole different flavor of all sorts. But many of us find, same old, same old Challenging. and are motivated, particularly folks with ADHD brains, are motivated by Variety and interest and fun and novelty. So just imagine if you had that particular flavor of spicy brain. And someone said you you needed to niche down to that Greater Manchester woman who was 45 and had a dog under the age of 2 that Lucy referenced earlier. I think that would get old pretty damn quickly. Right? And if you're a neurotypical person listening to this and thinking, something about what I'm about to say, which is that's gonna get boring. That's gonna feel boring. And it might even feel boring before it actually gets boring to the point of which not really getting very interested in it in the first place. But folks, that's the way that works. So if you say niche and be super specific and don't generalize and so on and so forth to somebody with that particular flavor of spicy brain, That is gonna switch them off to their business in a big way. So I I guess my my final thought is that the the degree of niching from absolutely no niching whatsoever and being all things to all people through to said aforementioned 45 year old Mancurian. It's man No. Mancunian, not Mancunian. Mancunian. Who has a a a dog under the age of 2? You know, Do you, you know? but find support if you're finding yourself getting lost In niching niching niching, niching, I've just gotta get it right. And I'm not out there either selling or sharing The full breadth of myself. Get some support with that, because it's not about the niching. It's not about if only you could find the right niche, you would be talking to your people, And you would be somehow mowed down with so so many clients and so much success that you wouldn't know what to do with yourself. if anyone's telling you that, they're lying. Lucy, passing thoughts. Final thoughts.

Lucy:

Passing the final thoughts because I was really interested when you said when you brought up the neurodivergent angle, or point, not angle. oh, angle. I don't know. I had anyway, the I hadn't considered it until you'd brought it up. And especially when you were just talking, it also makes me think that, Yeah. Okay. if you're an ADHD person that likes a lot of novelty, then niching. Hell, if you're an autistic person who needs to know that your Routine is the same and to not have a lot of things come up, then niching might actually be supportive for you. if you're all ADHD, then there might be ways that you need to niche or, you know, there might be a balance there to figure out. And so I think, You know, we can say what works for us with our brains. But as per, just because we might have just, you know, collectively semi lightly shat on niching a bit doesn't mean that it can't actually be quite supportive for certain people, and we're not saying, like, You know, as per usual, there is no rule book. You do what you wanna do, and that works for you. So If niching is a way, like you said, as a protective behavior to to prevent yourself from jumping in, then niche bad. No niche. Don't don't do don't don't do niche. But if that's actually gonna mean that it's actually an accessible way for you to work because you need to have that for your safety, then Do you do? You crack on.

Pippa:

You know what? I couldn't have ended the episode better myself because You do you boo, is literally what underpins all of the work that we do with the clients that we work with. It's finding ways that work for them, whether that's do with their lifestyle, their brains, or whatever it is, or just what they like. you do you. I hope this episode has been, interesting. It certainly has been from my point of view. I could talk about niching all day long, my conversation with Liz was A fab 1. I think I I even said to Liz at the time that I'd quite like to just sort of do a big series with her and just chat all day long because she was brilliant. So our thanks to Liz again. like we said at the top of the episode, if you haven't gone back and listened to the last 1, go back now. But that's pretty much us done. Lucy, would you like to see us out?

Lucy:

That's all for this week, folks. We'll see you again next week with more disobedient business fuckery and messing with the status quo. We'll see you next Tuesday..