Trying to reach your niche? You’re not alone.
Liz St Jean is a well-trained leadership coach. She’s looking for ways to reach her target audience — people who want to make an impact in organizations where they work. They’re not entrepreneurs – they’re intrapreneurs.
Liz realizes that most of her audience won’t recognize or relate to the term “intrapreneur.” Some organizations bestow this title from the top down, assigning projects and encouraging employees to feel empowered and take ownership. Liz takes the other view: she wants help people become intrapreneurs by proposing special projects to senior management.
When Liz proposed the question, she got several suggestions. Maybe use the term “change agent” instead of “intrapreneur.” Maybe focus on what she tells her clients: “Stop blaming the boss! Take the initiative to drive change.”
“To reach your niche, start with a story.”
For Liz to find her market and her message, she can start by storifying her problem. That’s a double-barreled world (well, I used to be an academic) meaning, “Find the underlying story.”
In this case, we could start with the story her client would bring during the initial phone call. It might be something like:
“I’m really frustrated with my job. I think I’m going to have to move to a new company or even a new career. Every day I dread coming to work, because I feel like I’m stifled. I’ve gone as far as I can and there’s no room for growth here.”
Alternatively, they might begin with, “I’m really frustrated with my job. I think I’m going to have to move to a new company or even a new career. Every day I dread coming to work, because I feel like I’m stifled. I want to find a way to stay in this job, but also feel like I’m growing, changing and making an impact on the organization.”
When Liz digs deeper, she uncovers the client’s backstory:
“I’ve outgrown my job. I know a dozen different ways to make this operation more efficient. For instance, we could install a software system that would do the work of 2 data entry people. We’re having trouble filling those positions because nobody wants to do those boring repetitious jobs. But my boss won’t even let me research the problem.”
“To reach your niche, the story+backstory sequence will help focus your message.”
If Liz’s clients begin with a story of job dissatisfaction, she probably won’t get their attention when she talks about empowering them to make an impact on the organization. She would brand herself as someone who solves career frustration problems.
Liz would have to gain the clients’ trust, learn their backstory and then guide them to decide whether change is realistic or whether they’re dealing with dinosaurs who won’t budge, no matter what. Then she’ll guide them through her proprietary 5-step intrapreneurship program.
But if they begin with a story of “I want to stay but don’t see how that’s possible,” she can focus on intrapraneurship. Her brand message would be about making an impact in the organization. It might be something like, “Transform your current job.” Or even, “Grow your career with your own intrapreneurship program.”
Are enough people telling this story? If so, she’s got a potential niche. But if most of the action comes from dissatisfied workers, she’s got some strategizing to do.
By focusing on her client’s stories, Liz gets away from questions like, “What do I call the process?” She doesn’t scare people away with warnings like, “Stop whining and get to work!” She focuses directly on her first step — identifying a market where prospects genuinely need what she can offer.
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