Remember when you first started college? As a freshman, the classes you took were all general education courses like math and English. By your second year, you started taking general classes within your major like basic Accounting and Economics, if you were a Business major, and by the time you were ready to graduate, you were taking advanced classes specific to a subject within your major like Marketing.
This is very similar to your growth as a Staging Design Professional. When you first get started, you’re working with everybody (the general public), or in some cases, “anybody” because your business depended on it. You didn’t have the luxury of being choosey because you just needed to get business NOW.
As your business evolves, you may naturally start creating a niche because you just organically attract certain clients or types of projects. If this doesn’t come naturally, you will eventually want to figure out what your distinct segment of the market is or more affectionately, “define your niche”. This is not only the “who”, but also the “what” in the marketplace you serve. For instance, as Stagers, you can work with homeowners, Realtors, builders, developers or investors. Choosing to work with one of these types of folks is part of your niche. The “what” or your specialty, such as model home merchandising or only staging owner occupied properties is also part of your niche.
I was recently at a Mastermind meeting where one of the Realtors mentioned that when she first started her business, she met a mentor who called himself the “Condo King” so she decided to call herself the “Condo Queen” and went on to be known as a condo specialist. I know of a local Stager that specializes in Staging Lofts. As you’ve heard me mention before, one of my niches was in Managing Remodel Projects for Resale. I was the “go to” person when those projects came up because I was known by the local Realtor community as the expert in that area. That also led to several condo conversion renovation projects that I was hired to consult on.
So why would you want to find a niche?
o You are seen as the Expert.
o Experts are able to command higher fees – Your clients want to know that they’re getting the best and they’re usually willing to pay more to have someone who is an Expert. Cardiac surgeons are paid a lot more than a generalist M.D.
o Experts have more credibility – More people want to work with Experts rather than Generalists. There is a higher demand for Specialists and as a result, they command more respect. Just as an Enrolled Agent is paid a lot more for their technical expertise in the field of taxation, particularly IRS audits, than your local H&R Block tax preparer.
o Niching can help separate you from your competition so that you’ll be remembered. Particularly with the “green” movement. Incorporating those principles into your Staging services will not only get consumer attention but you can potentially dominate that market since this is an emerging concept.
o Niching helps you clarify your marketing message. Now that you know who your target market is and what your unique service offering is, you can now build your customer’s awareness of your services as well as your brand with more focused campaigns.
So how do you find your niche?
Ask yourself a few questions. What do people already see you as an expert of? What are you known for or what do you want to be known for? Take a look at your previous projects or your client profiles. Was there a group of folks that you worked with more often than another? Is there an area that you’re particularly better at than anyone else? Where can you be a first at in your marketplace?
It could be that you only do vignette staging which creates a look and feel without the need for a lot of inventory which reduces your overhead expenses. Perhaps you’re known as a Color Specialist or the “Green” Stager. By positioning yourself as the Expert in this sexy, new niche, you will probably get a lot of media exposure since it is the “HOT” topic of the moment.
As you can see, niching helps you clarify who and what you want to work with. By communicating that to your clients, you can help ensure that you’re not taking on projects that are outside of your expertise and eliminate those that bring you the least joy. Over time I found my niche just by working on all kinds of projects and figuring out which ones I enjoyed and which I could easily say no to, regardless of the money.
Figure out what your niche is and you will find that the journey to your Staging success is a lot more fun!