I know I’m preaching to the choir here—or if not the choir, certainly a group that has been in the pews for a number of sermons—but, there are so many advantages to marketing to a niche. And yet most advisors I speak with still want to align their business around “comprehensive financial planning.”
I understand how counterintuitive narrowing your group of potential clients seems, especially if you’re just starting out and trying to keep the doors open. Believe me, I get it.
Because of my financial planning education and the connections I made with advisors at school, it was easy for me to choose my niche—financial planners—but not so easy to commit to it.
Committing to a Niche (Sort Of)
Identify your niche early, and declare it loudly.
Over the years, while managing my company, Advisor Web Marketing (AWM), at various times I had many other "side hustles." There was Echelon SEO (geared towards small local businesses), the Content Marketing Exchange (a short-lived advisor content business with Alan Moore), WPSubs (a subscription-based WordPress site for small business), and then I worked with a real estate agency for a couple of years. While my priority has always been AWM, some of these other projects become more than side hustles and definitely impacted the growth of my primary business.
When I first started my company in 2009, there were only a couple of advisor-facing marketing businesses, and frankly, only a few advisors looking to move online. Many of those early adopters are now revered as financial industry thought leaders.
Had I focused strictly on my niche from the start, I firmly believe my company could be the dominant player in my industry, rather than one of many companies now competing in that space.
Advantages of Marketing to a Niche
Marketing to a niche has many advantages, but it's not without its challenges.
From a very broad marketing perspective you have two basic challenges: first getting the potential client to find you, and then getting them to select you over your competition.
How Niche Marketing Helps Clients Find You
SEO and Content Marketing
In my experience, search volume for their desired clientele commonly holds advisors back from committing to a niche. They look at Google’s keyword tool, see that the search volume for “Financial Planning for [niche idea e.g. “Realtors”] is estimated at 10-100 searches nationwide, and only 0-10 in their city, and decide there is not enough search volume around that keyword to build a business.
The problem is, they’re looking at the wrong keywords. There are plenty of realtors out there, and many of them want financial advice—they’re just not searching “Financial Planning for Realtors.” Instead, think about what specific issues (commonly called “pain points”) they’re worried about and what questions they’re asking. And if you aren’t sure, simply talk to members of that group to learn their pain points.
Chances are they’re asking questions like:
“What is the best way to set up my real estate business?”
“As a realtor, what expenses should I track to minimize my taxes?”
“What can I deduct from my taxes as a real estate business expense?”
“Best retirement plan for a realtor?”
“How do I budget for the ups and downs of real estate?”
“Should I invest in real estate?”
Your niche provides you with a specific audience that has identifiable questions (which you can—and most definitely should—address in the content you create).
The more granular you get in answering your niche’s questions, the less competition there will be trying to provide answers for them. Simply put, your business will more easily rank high on the search engine results pages (SERPs) for that topic.
In addition, once your prospective clients click through to your website, they’ll find the other great content you’ve created addressing their pain points. Relevant content makes prospective clients more likely to stay on your site (and return in the future), signaling to Google that you provide a good User Experience (UX) and that your content provides a good answer to the search query they used to find you.
Considering advertising on Google or Facebook? The more specific your target audience, the less you generally have to pay to reach them and the better response you will get because you’re advertising to an exact match versus a possible match for your services. As a result, you reduce the number of wasted clicks (that you still have to pay for).
Borrowing an Audience
Working in a specific niche also makes it easier to borrow someone else’s audience. Following the example from above, if you specialize in working with realtors, there are a wide range of real estate coaching blogs and podcasts you can be a guest on. Additionally, you’re more likely to be of interest to journalists looking for an “expert” resource. Not only do these interactions provide you access to a wider audience and help with your credibility, they also often provide valuable backlinks to your website, which help boost your search rankings.
Prefer face-to-face networking? Now that you have a defined market, you can apply to speak at real estate conferences and attend real estate networking groups. You can sponsor the lunch or offer a class at a local real estate office.
Take it to the Next Level
Write the book on “Financial Planning for Realtors,” start a podcast, create a course, or host a webinar to attract your audience. Because you have a targeted avatar, and you have the content and experience to back up your expertise in that space, your book/podcast/course will not just be “another financial planning” product in the mix—it will speak specifically to that audience.
Getting Picked Over the Competition
Whether you’re engaging your niche (in this case, real estate agents) digitally or in real life, the fact that you specialize in working with people like them, and are an expert in dealing with the problems they face, gives you a much greater chance of standing out from “the crowd” and connecting with your potential client, whether that means a phone call, meeting, or them signing up for your lead magnet on your website.
Additionally, once you are serving this group, if you serve them well, you are likely to get more referrals because your client likely associates with other members of your niche group.
Choosing Your Niche
You may have a natural niche—a group that you have a connection with—like I did with financial advisors. Another advisor I know decided to specialize in working with dentists because his wife is a dentist and is therefore able to provide him with industry insights. If you already have an existing practice, you may see that you are already working with a specific group, or you may be able to identify a group that you particularly enjoy working with.
Your niche could be built around:
- An industry: teachers, service members, doctors, chiropractors, dentists, architects, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, etc.
- Specific service offerings: social security specialists, IRA rollovers
- Lifestyle or Life-event: LBGT, divorcing, new parents, just married
- Becoming an expert in one company in your area
- Interest: political, church, recreational activities, associations, clubs
- and more! The possibilities are nearly endless
It’s Still Early in The Financial Niche Marketing Timeline
It’s not too late for you to choose a niche to market to (but it certainly more advantageous to choose your niche sooner rather than later).
Even among those advisors who have already chosen to market to a niche, there’s a good chance they’re marketing to a broad niche, like “near retirement,” “retirees,” “Gen X” or “Gen Y,” or “Women”—groups that represent millions of people. Or they’re trying to serve multiple niches at once—“my clients are young professionals, near retired, and retirees” (so, anyone over the age of 30…?). My point is, there are plenty of opportunities.
Choose now and one day you may be the dominant player or industry thought leader in your niche.
About the Author
Brent Carnduff is the founder/owner of Advisor Web Marketing. He's a search engine optimization (SEO) expert who works with financial advisors across the country to help them develop a stronger online presence, increase their web traffic, and to capture more leads. In addition to his blog at AWM, he is a VIP Contributor to Search Engine Journal, and is syndicated through SteamFeed, Social Media Today and B2C.
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