This is part of a series of blog posts: The Top 10 Questions Therapists Ask Me.
#4: Do I Have to Have A Niche?
Usually when therapists ask me this question, they are afraid that choosing a niche or a specialty will limit the clients they get to work with. They fear that they won’t get enough clients because they will exclude so many people.
What I see happen over and over again is that therapists who don’t choose a niche struggle for longer and work harder to build their practices. Often they fail. Therapists who choose a niche and focus their marketing efforts in that direction have much less work to do.
I am defining a niche here as a problem or a population. Sometimes a niche will encompass both. For example, infidelity is a problem. Couples are a population. A niche could be infidelity, couples, or couples dealing with infidelity.
Having a niche makes your marketing easier.
You stand out to other professionals.
Let’s pretend you are meeting 2 different therapists at an event.
One says: “I like to work with a lot of women, but also with some men, both individuals and couples. Sometimes I work with adolescents too. I help people work through their relationship issues and recover from past traumas. I also work a lot with people recovering from depression, and I work with people dealing with anxiety a lot too.”
The next says: “I specialize in helping people recover from depression.”
Then you’ll go on to meet many more therapists before the day is over. Who will you remember at the end of the day? Most of us would remember the person who only mentioned depression. Our minds do a lot of filtering to avoid overwhelm, and we do better with less information at one time.
All your marketing efforts are competing with a smaller number of therapists.
You can be among a small number of therapists known for the particular work you do. This works when clients are finding you on the internet and when they are looking for you through referral.
Here’s an example: Think for a moment about who you know who specializes in work with adolescents. Now think for a moment about who you know who works with everyone.
Your first list was shorter, right?
You can also try doing an internet search for “therapist” with your zip code “therapist for adolescents” with your zip code. Those therapists who specialize in working with adolescents have had a much easier time showing up on the first page in that search.
You can establish your status as an expert in your niche quickly.
You can blog, speak, give workshops, and have one on one conversations about your area of expertise. You can be the go-to person for your colleagues about your niche. You can’t do that as a generalist.
But what about that fear that you’ll be limiting your practice?
It doesn’t work that way. Many therapists who market themselves in a particular niche actually have general practices. Others find you through word of mouth. When your clients and other professionals know that you’re a good therapist doing good work, they refer you all sorts of clients and issues.
In my therapy practice I have only marketed to couples for over seven years, and a large percentage of my practice is individuals.
Many people who market only to LGBTQ clients also end up seeing many straight identified people too.
But how do I choose?
You need to choose something that you feel excited about. You should feel like you could write or speak about this topic every day and not feel bored by it. Make your niche narrow enough that you aren’t trying to include everyone, but wide enough that you have enough to say. This will be a commitment for a few years, not forever. You may change your niche at some point in your career as other things become more interesting to you.
Choosing a niche can be tricky, and I don't want you to get stuck in that process. I can help you to make sure you're making a choice that is both interesting to you and also profitable. Set up a free phone consultation now.
Next week I will answer question #5: Does my marketing have to be cheesy?