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Nailing Your Niche - A Guide for Therapists

Nailing Your Niche - A Guide for Therapists

“You need a niche!”

You’ve probably heard people say that if you want a successful massage business, you need a niche.

You know this, you’ve heard this and yet you haven’t done anything about choosing a niche for yourself. Why not?

I’m willing to guess if you haven’t chosen a niche, it’s down to one of these reasons:

1) You’ve got enough clients and don’t see the need
2) It seems too difficult to choose one
3) You don’t like the idea of having a niche – it sounds tedious and limiting.
If you agree with any of those statements, read on; this might just change your mind!


When do you need a niche?

You need a niche if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- You’re finding it hard to get clients
- You don’t always enjoy working with the clients you DO have
- You want to become known as an expert therapist in your local area
- Your business growth has faltered
- You want to raise your prices
- You feel like there are so many other therapists around, you don’t know how to stand out.

Having a niche is the answer to all these issues.

Having a niche means you can specialise. It means you can stand for something and can charge more. It means people will notice you. It will bring you more clients. Without a niche, you’re jostling for space and attention with every other therapist out there.


What exactly is a Niche?

Let’s be clear what we mean by a Niche:

A Niche is a specialized area of expertise that caters to a specific client group. In simple terms, a niche is “What you want to be known for”.

Having a niche means you focus your marketing and your business on a specific, narrow target audience – rather than trying to appeal to a broad range of people.


Why choose a Niche?

Your marketing needs to be able to stop people in their tracks and make them say, “OOOh that’s me! Maybe this person can help me!"

Rather than offering a broad range of services, choosing a niche allows you to become an expert in a particular aspect of massage, making you the go-to therapist for clients looking for that exact thing.

Specialism gives you a level of credibility that helps people take you more seriously. (and as a side note, people are more likely to trust a specialist and happily pay more to see one.) 

Having a niche means people can take one look at what you do and know that your work is exactly what they need. Straight away they can see exactly WHO you help, exactly WHAT you do, or exactly HOW you work and you’ll become memorable AND referable. 

Knowing your niche helps you talk directly to the people who want what you offer. No wasted time, just the clients you love working with, who need the work you do.


Common misconceptions

In my mentoring, I often work with therapists to help them choose their niche – and they are usually quite resistant to choosing one. They worry they’ll get bored working with the same type of client or problem all the time – OR that they won’t get enough clients if they narrow down their target market too much.

If you’re feeling resistant to the idea of a niche – my answers to these common misconceptions might help:

1 “A niche is too limiting and will limit my business's growth.”

Overcoming it: It's important to remember that a niche is not about limiting your business, but rather about focusing your marketing efforts on a specific area of expertise. You don’t actually need to work ONLY with your niche. You can work with whomever you like. It’s just that in your marketing, you’ll talk only about your niche.

2 “I have to choose a niche that I'm passionate about, even if it's not profitable.”

Overcoming it: While it's important to choose a niche that you enjoy, it's equally important to choose one that is profitable. You can find a balance between your passion and profitability by identifying areas of overlap between the two. What do you enjoy doing in your work AND what are people willing and able to pay for?

3 “I have to be an expert in my niche to start marketing myself.”

Overcoming it: You don't have to be an expert in your niche to start marketing yourself. By choosing a niche and starting to market yourself within that area, you'll gain experience and knowledge that will help you become an expert over time. If you find a niche that needs a bit more in depth knowledge, go for it! Get some extra training, go online, watch you-tube videos. Build your CPD
around your niche and start going deeper, not broader with your training. Become a master, rather than a jack-of-all-trades.

4 “I have to turn away clients who don't fit my niche.”

Overcoming it: You will focus your marketing efforts on your niche, BUT - you don't have to turn away clients who don't fit within it. You can still provide treatments to any clients you like, while also marketing yourself to your niche. This allows you to grow your business while still keeping your focus on your niche.

IT’S NOT THE WHOLE SHOP

Remember this - your niche is just your shop window. It’s not the whole shop! It’s there to grab people's attention and entice them to look more closely at what you sell. Once they enter the “shop” they can see there’s more that you do or offer.

Your niche is your core message that you do all your marketing around, and that will attract a core niche client group – but it will also spill over into other clients who come for different reasons so you won’t end up just working in that narrow group.


How to choose your niche

Finding your niche is really about finding your massage superpower. It's what makes you unique, and it's the key to building a massage practice that's not just successful but also fun.

So all that being said –  if you decide you want or need a niche, how do you choose one?

There are a few options. Take a look at the following for some inspiration:

TYPE OF PERSON:

People who do a certain sport – e.g. swimmers, runners, cyclists or golfers

A demographic - the elderly, pregnant women, children

People in stressful occupations - carers, NHS workers, teachers, social workers, 

People in occupations that impact their body - hairdressers, dentists, desk-workers, construction workers

A PROBLEM

A physical problem – e.g. back pain, migraines, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, TMJ
An illness or long-term condition - Fibromyalgia, cancer, chronic pain, ME, insomnia

An emotional problem - anxiety, grief, overwhelm, burnout, stress
A body area – neck, jaws, knees, lower back, feet.

MIX AND MATCH

You can choose one of the above, or you can mix and match them – ie, choose a type of person and then a problem that the person wants help with.

  • Busy mums feeling overwhelmed
  • Swimmers who suffer from shoulder issues

  • Desk-workers needing help with headaches


WHERE TO START?

Start with your current clients – take a look at which clients you enjoy working with the most. Make a list of them. Is there something they have in common? Could that be a niche?

Or look at it from a different angle - what problem do you often find clients presenting with that you have had good results from working with?

Look around - see what's missing in the massage world around you. What do some people need, that doesn’t exist yet where you are? Where can you step in and be the hero for a specific group of clients?

If you can’t come up with a niche from your current clients, or from your local area, look closer to home. 

Look at your own life experiences. Is there anything you have specific experience or knowledge of that you’ve struggled with and overcome in your own life? That could be a niche.

Look at your treatments and massage style. What type of person would love your treatments and get the most benefit from them?

“Can my modality be a niche?”.

One of the most common things I hear when I’m helping a therapist to pick a niche is, "Can my niche be a type of treatment I do?"

Here’s the thing; While you CAN have your modality as your niche, the question we really need to ask is:

"SHOULD my modality be my niche?"

The answer is probably “NO”, for the following reasons:

When we choose our niche, we need to take many factors into account and the first, most important one is: Do people actually WANT it?

If your modality is highly specialized, it's likely that people don't even know what it is or why they might need it. This means the only people you'd get coming through your doors are those who have prior knowledge of your modality. They KNOW what it is, and that it could help them.

That immediately excludes A LOT of people.

You might think most people know and understand the different treatment options out there - but generally they don't.

If you are trying to sell your modality to the few who know what it is, you're going to find it harder to get clients.

On the other hand, if your niche is popular among massage therapists (ie you want to specialise in Sports or Deep Tissue massage) there is already a high level of competition and it will be challenging to stand out and attract clients.

So although you CAN have your modality as a niche – I wouldn’t advise it, for the reasons above.

At the end of the day, you should pick something you feel passionate about – but also do recognise that you CAN change your niche if it’s not working for you anymore, it’s not set in stone.

Choose your niche and then commit to it for at least 4 months and see if it works for you. If not – feel free to change it!

And finally… what if you REALLY don’t want a niche. Am I saying it’s impossible to build a business without one?

Not at all.

You absolutely CAN build a successful massage therapist by treating the general population – but it can take a lot longer. If there’s nothing that’s making you stand out from the crowd, there’s nothing to encourage potential clients to choose you over the therapist down the road. A niche just makes sense.

When you decide to focus in on a niche and tailor your marketing to that specific client group, you’re going to make it much easier to grow your business AND for potential clients to find you.

Give it a try, you’ve nothing to lose!

About the Author

Business mentor for massage therapists, Nikki Wolf has over 20 years in the industry; including teaching, owning a massage school, and managing spas. Nikki is on a mission to demystify marketing for therapists and empower them to build their own thriving businesses. When she isn't massaging or mentoring, she’ll be walking on the beach with her dog, Storm. Find out more about mentoring at Orchid Massage Academy.


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