The Most Critical Part of Your Coaching Niche

Coaches often ask me: Why is targeting an audience more effective than just choosing a basic coaching niche?

In a nutshell, coaches who target a specific audience do more of what they love, are paid better, and have no limits on their income. Whereas, coaches who try to market their coaching niche topic — such as life coaching, career coaching or wellness coaching generally have difficulty getting enough clients, keeping them for the long term, and charging enough to maintain a sustainable business.

When it comes to attracting clients, most coaches focus on the what – what topic they want to coach around – and try to sell that. Business savvy coaches instead focus on a who – a group of people who share unique challenges and goals, like bookstore owners or virtual assistants – a target audience.

I understand the appeal of choosing a basic coaching niche initially. It feels safe to know in advance the topics you’re going to coach around – things like transition or balance. Or you might choose a niche based on a desire to help others through similar life experiences – like divorce coaching or grief coaching.

In some cases you can find advanced training on that coaching skillset – such as relationship or career coaching. And if you have significant expertise in a saleable skill, marketing that skill might work for you.

But I’ve talked with hundreds of coaches who have tried selling coaching on a particular topic, and fewer than a handful have pulled it off for long-term success.

Often they end up coaching friends and family for free, or for fees that won’t sustain them. They have cyclical results and never really feel the ease and grace of a solid coaching business.

On the other hand, I’ve seen the utter relief coaches feel when they fortify their coaching niche by focusing in on one viable target audience. They no longer feel like a fraud (not that they ever were a fraud). Suddenly, coaching and marketing are in alignment – because they are both client centric.

And the advantages don’t end there. Ultimately, targeting one specific audience brings a freedom that blows the lid off the income ceiling fast. Here is why…

20 Undeniable Advantages of Narrowing Your Audience

  1. It’s not about you, it’s about your clients – and that’s a relief.
  2. It’s easy to find out what makes them tick because it’s a narrow and unique group of people.
  3. You know what they are motivated to buy and can tailor make your offers to fit that.
  4. It’s easier to talk about what you do, win clients and get referrals.
  5. Your services are perceived as essential whereas most niche related coaching seems like a luxury.
  6. Prospects are easier to find. You know where they gather, what they read, what professional groups they belong to.
  7. So you know where your next clients are coming from.
  8. Clients will work with you for longer periods because there’s all of life to coach around instead of just one topic.
  9. It’s simple to stay in front of prospects because you know where to submit articles, where to speak, what topics will draw your market.
  10. You always know what to do next. No more overwhelm.
  11. It’s easy to impress spheres of influence (organizations, groups) that will endorse you.
  12. You saturate your market with awareness about you quickly. With a coaching niche you’re spread too thin to build enough visibility.
  13. It’s easy to create & sell your own products and programs because they are based on one market’s top challenges.
  14. You can get off the money for time treadmill by creating bundled programs that require less of your time to deliver.
  15. Your competition is eliminated or greatly reduced.
  16. You become the go-to person for that market. You stand out.
  17. You can charge higher fees because you “own” the market.
  18. You market less because you build credibility and visibility faster.
  19. You get better results with clients because you champion them not a topic.
  20. You develop more coaching mastery, because you are using all your tools, not just your specialty.

For a clear understanding of the difference between a general coaching niche and a profitable coaching niche targeting a unique audience, grab my free ebook 5 Secrets to a Highly Profitable Coaching Niche You’ll Love.

  • Carol Hess

    This article hits the nail right on the head. I was getting nowhere fast when I was concentrating on a coaching niche. I took Rhonda’s course, Ideal Coaching Market, and did what she suggested — switched to a target market — and everything came together and started to work. It made all the difference in the world.

    • Congrats Carol. You’re another initiate to the easy way of building a soul satisfying coaching biz.

  • maria

    Love reading your ezine….however today I got confused! What is the main difference between a coaching niche and target market?


    • Hey Maria — a coaching niche is a WHAT, it’s a topic that you want to coach around — like career, life, relationship, transition, balance, wellness. A target market is a WHO, it’s a unique group of people gathered into one narrow accessible market — like hair salon owners or college professors or nurses or massage therapists or coaches. See, if you make it about the WHO rather than the WHAT you’ll easily find more clients and understand what makes them tick. Champion that group of people rather than a topic and then your coaching will be seen as essential by that market rather than a luxury by everyone. See the related posts which are mentioned below the article. It will come more clear.

  • Hi Ronda-
    Great article. How do I approach the target market? What would be the introductory remarks/propositions? I understand that a sample session is a way to gain trust, but what would I say to the C-Level person to initiate a conversation? Any suggestions would be appreciated!
    Thank you,

    • Hi Don, Have you considered taking my Ideal Coaching Market workshop? (It starts 10/6) The viability of a market for you depends on whether you know how to find and access the folks in that market. If that’s not clear then you may not yet have found a market that’s viable for you. Once you choose a viable market, you research about them, both through informational interviews and Internet searches. And then you create some compelling marketing language and offers that are relevant to that market. With these foundational pieces at the ready, it’s much easier to find, engage, listen to and then present your value proposition to the folks in that market. These are things I cover and help you create in the Ideal Coaching Market workshop.

      You definitely don’t want to walk up to anyone, a CEO or other people, and directly offer them a sample coaching session. Engaging at that level with you requires trust and a sense that you really understand their top challenges. It’s easier to offer a consult after you understand something about the market you’re targeting. And we do that by building the know-like-trust relationship first. Sometimes that can happen in a 1:1 conversation when you’re connecting primarily by asking questions and show interest. The right moment comes to invite the consult. On an ongoing basis you’ll want to build your business by building credibility and visibilty with your market at large so that they see your services as essential.

  • Rhonda, your post may be dated August 09, but it's timeless! I went through the typical “niche du jour” process, along with many of my new coach colleagues. Because almost all of the info I've seen focused on “niche,” I appreciate this clarification of “target.” I think we use those two terms interchangeably. I recently identified my niche, and now reading your post, I am relieved to know it's actually a target! My decision to focus on Life & Leadership Coaching for Introverts feels GOOD. It feels solid, like there's going to be the ease and flow I've been desiring. It's so much easier to talk about *who* I serve, and why! Talk about freedom!! 🙂

    • I know what you mean about the freedom, Beth. My clients are always so amazed how targeting gives them focus and helps them deliver what people will buy.

      Have you found it really easy to find Introverts and are they hiring you for life and leadership coaching at the rate you'd like? I've noticed that markets that are really easy to access — meaning large numbers of the market gather together — have associations, conferences, read the same journals– are the most viable markets, which of course means more clients that stay longer, less marketing that's more impactful. Even MORE freedom!

  • I have literally just clarified this market within the past week… it chose me, in that I looked at my current client profiles and realized with one exception, they were all introverts (and shared many other traits of my ideal clients). I've spent the past 18 months looking for that clarity, and it was right in front of me! Therefore, I'm at the beginning stages of discerning what are going to be the most effective ways of reaching them. My instinct tells me there is probably traction in certain professions, and I want to research that before making any assumptions!

    I do feel encouraged, because I've already gotten an opportunity to speak from my expertise in an article posted yesterday on The Coaching Commons (about Gordon Brown, the introvert!). My focus is not limited to one-to-one coaching; I'm more interested in building my one-to-many offerings and letting that feed one-to-one. So much to do and say, I'm really excited!

  • I get it, Rhonda, the niche is about you/your services, the target market is about them. Staying focused on THEM helps us gain value in their eyes.
    Great blog! Thanks for sharing and for contributing to the Coaches' Blog group.

  • I get it, Rhonda, the niche is about you/your services, the target market is about them. Staying focused on THEM helps us gain value in their eyes.
    Great blog! Thanks for sharing and for contributing to the Coaches' Blog group.

  • All the marketing speak and buzz words, I find, can add confusion.

    Which would you think is more powerful. If you had to choose one.

    1 – targeting a market, and serving the variety of challenges?
    2 – targeting a challenge, which can span over markets?
    3 – targeting a desire, anyone who wants to achieve X?

    (I know it’s probably got no specific answer and probably leads to more questions – heh!)

    • The main thing is target a GROUP of people who are seekers — the type of folks who invest in their personal and professional growth. That’s how you become a coach in high demand quickly — get known and attract clients who want to buy your services.

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