Now that we are vaccinated and socializing again, we are actually going out to restaurants for dinner. Joy! It seems so “normal!”
If the restaurant-choice conversation in your house is anything like the one in mine, it begins with “Where should we go?” Followed by, “What do you want to eat?”
One person says, “Let’s do a steak place.” Another says “I’d love some good seafood.” Still another says “Thai for me!” Or “Let’s do Italian!”
That is a NICHE conversation! Each of those restaurant descriptions is a niche. You’re choosing your restaurant based on its reputation for the kind of food you want to eat. It’s a marketing strategy as well as a cooking and food strategy that pays off because it helps people choose a restaurant when they have a hankerin’ for that kind of food.
This restaurant reputation discussion is an excellent metaphor for advocates and their practices. Determining an advocacy niche is a great approach to marketing an advocacy practice. Patients and caregivers will often choose an advocate who specializes in a specific area of expertise because they will believe that advocate has more advanced knowledge in that area than a generalist does.
Advocacy Niche Examples
Here are just a few examples. There are dozens more!
Mental Health. Especially as we have weathered the pandemic, and as mental health stigma has begun to erode, loved ones will identify a family member who needs support to get mental health services required for diagnoses such as depression, autism, bi-polar, addictions, and others. They will most often choose an advocate who specializes in this area before they will choose a generalist advocate not known for mental health expertise.
Medical Billing and Claims is another niche that is easily targeted and identifiable by potential patient-clients – plus other non-cost advocates who seek their expertise, too. A focus on medical billing and claims management or negotiation can set the stage for plenty of business in the US.
Integrative Approach. Some advocates feature their integrative approach to helping clients as a way of saying they can support alternative or complementary treatment method research and guidance. They are experts in finding naturopaths or acupuncturists, reiki practitioners, or other, often non-reimbursable integrative practitioners for their clients.
Death and Death Planning. From “death doulas” to end-of-life decision-making including advance directives, advocates who choose this niche are often hired by the families of someone who will transition to hospice and beyond, and need guidance as those choices are made.
Cancer. Of course “cancer” is really many diseases, but the basics of oncology navigation are parallel, and patients who have been diagnosed will want to choose an advocate who they believe best understands those basics. They want their advocate to know how to research possibilities, perhaps find clinical trials, and help them push back with an oncologist who tries to make choices for them they would not choose themselves.
Solo Seniors (Elder Orphans), or Children, or Women, or…. Sometimes a specific population for one’s focus, rather than a medical or disease situation, is a good niche. If you have a real interest in working with one specific group of people, you can create your niche around them.
How to Choose Your Niche
How do you choose the niche for you? Make your choice based on
- What you know and stay up-to-date on.
- What you like to do; the environment you choose to work in.
- Who you like to work with.
…. or other aspects of advocacy work that allow you to pinpoint your work, and communicate that with your target audiences. In fact, one part of the definition of a niche is that it helps determine who your main target audience is. By focusing on your niche in your marketing, your audiences – your potential clients – will find you.
How to Help Niche Clients Find You
Once you decide what your niche will be, you’ll need to put effort into marketing your niche expertise, so it becomes part of your business reputation.
Talk about your niche on your website; how it is you help those who need your expertise get what they want and need. Focus any public speaking or social media on your niche. In particular, a huge boon to your success in your niche is to begin to blog about the many unique aspects that you encounter and can help within your niche. You’ll need to constantly and consistently put yourself out there, aligned with your niche, to communicate the benefits of working with you.
What if you prefer being a generalist, offering many types of services to many patient profiles?
Looking back at that restaurant metaphor: A niche restaurant sometimes offers other non-niche choices, too. It’s not that you can’t get good steaks in an Italian restaurant – you certainly can. And you can get good seafood in a steak place, too. Even niche restaurants make sure that they provide alternative choices because they know that sometimes not everyone in the dinner party would choose their niche food. So while they have honed their reputation based on their niche, it’s well-known that they serve other good food, too, so they won’t lose the business of a dinner party where everyone doesn’t agree on what they want to eat.
Like those restaurants that market their niche, but offer other non-niche items on their menus, too – you can do the same with your practice. While you might focus on medical billing, or cancer, or working in eldercare, you might also perform some more general tasks as needed for a client, even though your marketing is focused on your niche.
Whether or not you choose a niche or specialty area for your practice is entirely up to you! Now that you know what it is, and know how to figure it out and promote it, you can take your practice in whatever direction you wish.
It’s YOUR practice, after all.