Your Rich Niche Practice
A niche creates more opportunity, not less. When you have a niche practice, standing out from the competition is much easier, and makes you more attractive and desirable.
General Counsel I know say they’re not interested in sending work out to generalists. What GCs and other clients want is highly specialized external talent able to provide expertise in very specific areas of law. This external talent is even more highly valued when they are a “go-to” person for particular legal expertise within a specific industry.
That’s the description of a true niche practitioner. They are subject matter experts (SMEs) who are notable because their market and industry are tightly defined, and their experience and expertise within that market and industry is fathoms deep. As a result, these people are in high demand and expensive.
You can be one – so what’s stopping you?
Fear is the major hurdle. The thought of turning away any type of paying work is terrifying to many people. The irony is that if you take on work simply to pay the bills, you will never have time to identify your key expertise, cultivate a niche, and be a true expert.
Cultivating your niche by turning away work that’s not in your wheelhouse is one strategy; another is culling clients and winnowing out those you no longer want or perhaps never really desired in the first place. Frightening as these strategies sound, both are worth it.
Finding your niche results in more clients, more prospects, and more contacts. This is because:
- Your distinguishing and differentiating traits are crystal clear
- You become less commoditized and more specialized
- You are recognized as a highly-desired expert in your field
- You attract more referrals than any generalist
- Strategic alliances seek you out
- Marketing to targeted clientele is easier and less costly
- You can charge more because you are rare
Finding your niche practice means looking inside yourself and considering situations that you enjoy along with identifying the types of people with whom you have an affinity and who will recognize that working with you is essential.
Once you’ve identified your niche, telling a compelling story about it will help attract the people you want to meet.
I can tell you from personal and professional experience that this strategy works. When I began consulting, my focus was niched in terms of industry and offering. The litmus test for this happened at, of all things, a wedding. During dinner, one of the guests was asked what he did for a living. His answer was, “Marketing.” When asked whom he worked for, he responded, “Anybody.” My response to the same question was, “Marketing and business development consulting for lawyers and law firms.” The result was an introduction to lawyers from three different firms immediately following dessert.
When you can tell someone the story of your niche practice and easily articulate why you’re the very right person to help, they are sold. Often times, right there, on the spot, they will choose to be your client.
Heather Suttie is a legal marketing and business development consultant. She works with a range of law firms and legal service providers — Global to Solo, BigLaw to NewLaw. Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or www.heathersuttie.ca.