Business Planning

“What are your thoughts about having two niches?”

This question comes from Jessica Higgins who, like most of us, is good at many things and wants to help people in many ways.

The concept of two niches is a good one to consider. I have two businesses, so who am I to say psychotherapists can’t focus on more than one thing at a time? (However, keep in mind, my businesses are substantially separate and exist independent of one another. My practice has one specialty niche.)

To consider multiple niches, we need to turn the lens a bit, put on our “business” hat and put ourselves in our potential clients’ position. Remember, successful businesses meet a need. People pay you to help them solve a problem.

Many therapists come to me saying, “I want to do X and Y because…..” And, while it’s important that you do work that you enjoy, the right question to ask is, “What skills do I have that meet a need? What can I offer that people will pay for?”

The business isn’t about YOU, it’s about THEM, your clients and potential clients. Their needs, their money, solving their pain.

Back to the two niches

When people ask me about multiple niches a number of questions come to mind:

  • Why do you want two niches in your business? Is it because you are equally passionate (and competent) in both? Is it because you want to hedge your bets? Or do you not feel competent enough in any area and feel more comfortable as a jack-of-all-trades?
  • Can they both be profitable? Are there enough people in each niche to bring in enough clients to support your income needs?
  • Are they related in any way? Two niches in related areas are better than two vastly different treatment areas. Technically, one could say I have two niches (ADHD and Autism) but they are both childhood developmental disorders and people can understand why I do both. However, I would not have a practice focused on ADHD and couples counseling. This combination wouldn’t make sense to potential clients or referral sources. However, a practice focused on couples counseling where one or both partners has ADHD would be a powerhouse business, if you ask me. Do you see the difference in the positioning?
  • When a potential client comes to your website and sees two specialties, what will they think? This is an important question to consider. Will people interested in your services see your niches and think, “Cool. She can help me!” or will they think, “I don’t get it.”
  • Will your multiple niches confuse potential clients and referral sources? A common marketing saying is, “A confused mind says, ‘No.’” If your niches will in any way confuse prospects, you aren’t doing your business any good.
  • How do these niches scale? (Meaning, where can you develop multiple streams of income.) When you have more than one specialty, it makes marketing hard. Worse, it makes developing multiple income streams almost impossible. For instance, if you want to start generating passive income by selling a book or a series of workbooks, which niche do you focus on? How will you convince people of your expertise in one area if your marketing focuses on many areas? Multiple specialties don’t scale well.
  • Can you effectively market two niches? How do you differentiate your marketing materials?

The client’s view

Let’s consider a woman (we’ll call her Jane) is having difficulty in her marriage. She feels her husband doesn’t communicate well and would rather be out with his friends than at home with her. She searches online for support and finds a website of a local psychologist with a tag line that reads, “Do you feel alone in your marriage?”

Jane snaps to attention and thinks to herself, “That’s me! I feel so alone in this marriage.”

She starts to browse the site because she wants to find out more and maybe set up an appointment with this therapist.

But as she’s browsing she sees a tab on the site that reads, “College Students.” She suddenly stops looking for the therapist’s phone number and reads the page on college students. Jane is not a college student.

This psychologist wants to work in two niches and successfully pulled Jane, who is an ideal client for one niche, into her site.

But Jane gets distracted by the second niche focused on college students.

What does she think?

What would YOU think if you saw this on one of your health care provider’s web sites?

Does Jane call the therapist, or does she get confused and try to find someone who really understands her needs?

The fact is, we don’t know and we won’t know because all of this happens out of our line of sight. People make decisions in an instant.

When you consider establishing a specialty niche, consider your options with a picture of an ideal client in mind. Ask yourself how your businesses choices will affect their decision to work with you (or not).
There’s so much more to talk about

As I was writing this post I got on a roll. Instead of bombarding you with a 2000 work essay here, I’m going to break it up over a few days. Tomorrow I’ll explore my thoughts on why the concept of niche is complicated for us.

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