‘Should I niche my private practice?’ is a common question in the closed Facebook group I run, CBT in Private Practice . When I left the NHS, I hadn’t even heard of niching down, but it’s become something I’m very passionate about.
The dictionary definition of ‘niche’ is ‘denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialised section of the population’. For business marketing purposes, niching down means focussing on a small but well-defined segment of the market.
Should You Niche? Yes!
Niching my private practice has worked well for me. Like most therapists starting out, I initially wanted to bring in referrals from anywhere. I didn’t know if I’d be able to maintain a steady flow of work, so I targeted everyone. My branding was neutral, my messaging unclear and my first website was designed to be as far-reaching as possible.
This worked reasonably well for a while. I was keeping myself busy working with referral agencies, so I didn’t need to rely on my website for work. A few years later, when I needed to find new ways to reach new clients, I started learning more about the importance of niching down and defining your brand.
At first, I was sceptical. It feels like you’re reducing your options, but I trusted the mentors and coaches I was working with. I built a new website with my ideal client in mind and I really enjoyed putting it together. Creating content is so much easier when you know who you’re communicating with.
Has it worked? Absolutely. I know I consistently attract my ideal client because they tell me arriving at my website feels like coming home. This response has made me even more determined to continue building my business with them, and only them, in mind.
What are the Benefits?
When you’re trying to attract everyone, your message is often complicated and confusing. Niching demonstrates a confident approach and this builds trust with your audience. It will help your business become more effective and can set the stage for further growth down the road. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll only work within this one niche forever, but it allows you to focus your brand and develop your voice. For more advice in this area, I recommend downloading the free Branding Identity Guide from Pocketsite.
Knowing and understanding your niche is also useful when working with other people in your business such as designers, copywriters and virtual assistants.
How to Define Your Niche
You could focus on the therapy you provide (e.g. CBT, counselling or EMDR) or the condition you treat (e.g. anxiety, pain or trauma). Beyond this, think about the clients you enjoy working with and those who seem to get the most out of the therapy you deliver.
Ask yourself who they are and what they do. What are their main strengths? What are their struggles? It’s likely you’ll find some common threads among the answers to these questions. Bring these elements together to begin creating a picture of your ideal client.
What will your ideal client be looking for in a therapist? What will be important to them? What will they search for via Google? Where will they spend time online? What magazines do they read or what podcasts do they listen to? The more you niche down, the easier it will be to answer these questions.
The goal of this exercise is for you to become VERY clear about who you are serving and what you can do for them. You should have this person in your mind’s eye and on your heart when you’re creating every aspect of your business. By doing this, you will attract the people who love what you do and who are looking for your service.
It’s also a good idea to spend some time defining your Ideal Community (IC) – the group of people that make up the community you are committed to working with. By defining your Ideal Community, you are giving yourself more room to envision people of different races, religions, ages and sexual orientations, as well as including those with disabilities.
Niching Down and Finding Clients
Once you’re comfortable with niching down, you can learn about other ways of attracting self-finding clients for your private practice.