One of the reasons that professionals resist choosing a market niche is that they confuse niche and offer.
Think of your market niche as the location or domain in which you make your offer.
By contrast, your offer is who you are and what you do. Your niche is where and with whom you do it.
Here's an example of differentiating market niche from offer based on my own coaching practice.
My niche is working with independent professionals and artists to craft prosperous businesses or careers that fully align with their values, aspirations, and desired way of life.
The offer that I am in this market niche distinguishes me from hundreds of other business coaches. As an offer, I am a gifted somatic coach, helping my clients embody success. I am an artist and a business owner myself, and my coaching springs from a deep personal engagement with the concerns that my clients bring to our work.
The offer that I am also includes my spiritual beliefs and practices, my training as a singer, my skills as a writer and editor, my passion for learning, and much more. The offer that I am, in short, encompasses a lifetime of experience - past, present, and future.
When I tried to discern a market niche based on the offer that I am, I was stymied. Was I a somatic coach? A creativity coach? A spiritual coach? Every niche seemed to be a too-small box, a dead end that limited me as an offer. When I conceived of niche as a location relative to the people I can best serve, niche became a refined point-of-focus for my unlimited and unique offer.
Having chosen a niche (or, more accurately, having acknowledged and accepted the niche that chose me,) I am now committed to honoring standards and boundaries that support that niche. I refer prospective clients who do not fit my niche to other coaches. I am careful to clarify my market niche whenever I write or talk about my work.
By focusing my market niche in this way, I can make a very strong impression. So can you. What's more, referrals have increased substantially. Every time I refer a prospective client who wants career coaching or some other service that I could easily do but that does not fit this niche, I create a source of referrals. The client I turn away knows where my offer is of maximum value. He knows that I have the integrity to work within the domain in which I offer the greatest value. He won't hesitate to send people my way when they want business or marketing support.
Showing Up in Your Market Niche as a Powerful Offer
I used to see people's eyes glaze when I tried to tell them what I did. I knew I was losing them, but I didn't know how. Now that I name my niche before I describe my services, it is easy for people to connect with what I am saying.
There's a paradox in naming your market niche. When you give people a category to put your products or services in, it is easier for them to get a handle on what you do and to remember it. It's also much easier for them to appreciate how you differ from other professionals in that category. In other words, by putting yourself in a category, you can also make yourself stand out because you distinguish yourself from others in that category.