You’re a growing agency with a steady stream of clients.
You have enough business to keep your employees busy and you’re currently offering a wealth of design services to clients from several different industries.
Deciding to restrict your services to a certain niche probably never entered your mind. Why rock the boat? After all, this is how most agencies operate.
But does that mean your agency should work like this?
In today’s article, we’ll discuss the best option for your agency: staying general or opting for a profitable niche.
Pros & Cons for Staying Generalized
As I mentioned earlier, most design agencies stay generalized. With this approach, almost anyone can be a customer.
Need a website?
- We can help.
How about a new logo?
- Come on down.
By staying general and accepting any and all business, you’re more likely to keep the jobs coming since you can market your services to just about anyone you come in contact with.
Here’s the downside: marketing to just anyone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the kind of high-paying customers your agency needs.
In fact, it could attract just the opposite. Think: low-paying, time-sucking clients who never seem to appreciate your hard work.
You see, this situation is more likely to come up because your agency will be just as specialized as every other agency. Does the term “a dime a dozen” sound familiar?
By staying general, you could easily become replaceable.
If your services are similar to what other agencies in the area are offering, what’s keeping your customer there?
Hopefully it’s the quality of work your team provides, but more often than not, it’s the price tag and the quality that keeps customers coming back to an agency with generalized services.
Another downside to staying general is that you may not be able to achieve the same results across different industries.
For example, let’s say you found a specific design element that’s really helping some of your customers. You get with your team and decide to use this feature on every one of your clients’ websites.
After a few weeks, you check your analytics to see how this new element is working for your clients. Much to your dismay, not everyone saw the same, extraordinary results.
Not only is this is a disappointment, but it’s also not an uncommon situation. What works for some industries may not always work in others. This is one of the biggest problems with staying general: it can be tough to replicate your results.
Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of offering niche services.
What Happens When You Switch to Niche Services?
If you’ve mastered a particular niche, you’ll eventually attract customers who need your services. And these clients won’t hesitate to pay a premium.
I know that sounds great and all, but let’s break down why this is the case before getting too excited. What exactly makes offering niche services so valuable?
Let’s use an example.
A potential client is looking for a new design agency to work with. They worked with other agencies in the past, but haven’t quite found the results they’re looking for.
This client has the option of choosing a reputable design agency in town that has experience serving several different industries, or they could do their homework to find an agency that specializes in their particular industry. They find two different potential agencies for their project.
Agency #1 is more general and therefore offers competitive rates. Agency #2, on the other hand, has slightly higher rates, but they also have a specific industry-related portfolio of results that can easily justify the difference in price.
Which agency is the client going to choose?
If it’s strictly a budgetary decision, they’re going to choose option #1.
But this particular client hasn’t had any luck in the past with getting results from generalized agencies. Therefore, even with price as a factor, they’re more likely to choose the higher priced option #2.
You see, price is not the only deciding factor for clients. Results are what really matter. When you offer niche services, you become “the expert” in that particular area.
You eat, sleep, and breathe everything related to your niche, and in turn, you can usually provide sought-after results for your client that a generalized agency wouldn’t have experience with. You’ll become the go-to agency that specializes in this particular niche.
Plus, when you work in a niche market, you’ll have a better chance at replicating what’s worked for you in the past, since you keep gaining experience and insight with it.
How to Find the Right Niche
A niche may naturally emerge as you begin to grow with clients. And that’s awesome. But if it doesn’t, don’t worry. It’s actually pretty easy to find your agency’s particular niche.
Here’s the thing: you’ve probably mastered a certain niche already, you just may not have realized it.
Spend time with your team identifying your favorite clients and create a list. Jot down the industry of each client.
Next, without thinking about whether or not you like working with these particular clients, create a list of your agency’s top achievements. These shouldn’t be personal accomplishments, but client-focused results. Ask yourself, “What results did we achieve for them?”
You also want to find achievements that are consistent. You don’t want something that happened once and was never replicated again.
Now it’s time to identify all the possible overlaps between your two lists. You can use a Venn diagram here if you’re a visual thinker like I am.
Are there clients who you love working with and who you also happen to achieve the most results with? See if you can identify a pattern that merges these two characteristics.
Once you’ve completed this step, check out the industry that these clients come from. Is it one that you find particularly interesting? Do you have the most experience working with this type of business?
These could be telltale signs that you may already have a niche worth exploring.
Another thing to note is that multiple niches may emerge as you complete this exercise, and that’s okay. Write down your top 4–5 industries and keep them in mind as you work over the next few months.
Pay attention to this list and keep the following questions in mind:
- Are you consistently delivering results?
- Do you enjoy this industry?
- How do clients in this industry respond?
Enjoying the work in a particular industry is helpful for those tough times when you begin to lose motivation.
And delivering consistent results is important for longevity.
You don’t want to specialize in an industry that you’ve had a random (and unexplainable) bout of good luck with. Instead, you want one that you have had consistent results with. This will make pursuing that niche worthwhile.
It’s easy to see that specializing in a niche is the way to go. However, you don’t want to pursue a niche just for the sake of doing so. Instead, you’ll want to spend time finding the right one for your agency.
By narrowing down a particular niche, you’ll be able to focus all of your attention on mastering that specific industry, which means you’ll be giving your customers the best results and improving the success of your business.