Finding a niche is key to a successful health and wellness coaching business. It helps you stand out from the competition, attract and retain your ideal clients, and charge a rate you’re satisfied with.
But where do you begin?
What if you've just begun your career as a full-time nutritionist, fitness professional, or health coach and haven't coached anyone yet? Or, what if, deep down, you resist the idea of focusing on coaching certain clients on certain things for fear of accidentally excluding desirable clients in need of your knowledge, expertise, and guidance?
Get your questions answered and your doubts cleared in this article. Here, we guide you through everything to know about niche marketing, from what it is to its advantages to how to select a niche for yourself and your coaching practice.
What Is a Niche Market?
From a business perspective, the term “market” refers to the groups of individuals or organizations that make up the pool of actual and potential clients.
Most markets consist of one dominant market segment and several smaller segments. The dominant segment is known as the “mass market,” whereas the smaller segments are known as “niche markets”:
- Mass market: A large part of the market; includes a general and broad client segment. “Mass marketing” is thus a strategy in which a business decides to target the entire market. The idea is to reach and capture as many clients as possible. This, in turn, means that the business’s offerings tend to be pretty standardized as they need to hold universal appeal.
- Niche market: A smaller segment of a larger market that can be defined by its unique needs, preferences, or identity that makes it different from the market at large. “Niche marketing” is thus a strategy in which a business decides to target a smaller segment of the market. The idea is to cater to the needs and wants underserved by the mass market or other businesses. This, in turn, means that the business’s offerings are typically specialized, unique, and distinct.
Advantages of Niche Marketing
But wait: Why would you intentionally niche down when it limits the potential clients you could attract and serve for your health and wellness coaching business? There are three primary reasons:
- Less competition: Say, for instance, you’re a fitness professional. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 309,800 fitness trainers and instructors are currently employed in the United States. Meaning? If you offer generic fitness coaching services, that's the competition you're going up against. Thankfully, niche marketing could change that. To illustrate, how many other fitness instructors do you think are targeting “time-starved, corporate individuals looking to get in better shape through quick power yoga sessions”? The more specific you are, the less likely you'll run into competitors offering the same services you provide.
- Enhances marketing effectiveness: Understanding your target clientele's unique needs and wants helps you craft a focused, coherent, and appealing marketing message. This may, in turn, improve your conversion rate and lower marketing costs (if applicable to your business). For example, imagine if an individual were looking to improve their dietary choices and habits by transitioning to a plant-based diet. Would they be more responsive to the marketing efforts of a Plant-Based Nutrition Specialist or a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant? Chances are, it’ll be the former.
- Promotes client loyalty: As mentioned earlier, you face less competition by niching down. On the flip side, that also means potential clients have fewer coaches to choose from in the market. That increases your perceived value. Provided your coaching services match (and ideally exceed) clients’ expectations and needs, your clients will likely stick with you for a long time.
How to Find a Niche for Your Health and Wellness Coaching Business
At this point, you’re likely and understandably excited about finding a niche suitable for you and your coaching business.
We’ll cover that in just a bit. Before that, though, here's something important to remember: "Niche coaching" isn't the same as "niche marketing." To elaborate, consider the following coaching niches in the health and wellness industry:
- Holistic Health Coaching: Coaches empower clients to achieve optimal and lasting health through encouraging the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits (encompassing nutrition, fitness, stress management, etc.).
- Senior Fitness Coaching: Coaches help older clients live healthier, fitter lives through designing and implementing safe and effective exercise programs.
- Plant-Based Nutrition Coaching: Coaches use plant-based nutrition to support each client’s unique needs.
These simply describe the type of coaching you wish to do.
Let's pick one of those coaching niches, Plant-Based Nutrition Coaching, as an example. People who wish to transition to or optimize their plant-based dietary choices can do so for different reasons (e.g., to improve athletic performance or boost energy levels). Some may be willing to pay more for coaching, too.
This, in turn, highlights the importance of going beyond identifying the type of coaching you wish to do (disclaimer: it’s still a crucial step, but, ideally, you shouldn’t stop there)—into working out the specific type of client you want.
That’s what niche marketing is all about. So now, with that out of the way, here are the five steps you could follow to find a niche for your health and wellness coaching business.
#1: Think About Who You’re Trying to Attract
First things first. Think back to when you first considered becoming a health and wellness coach: Who did you wish to help? That’s your target market. Be as specific as possible. Asking yourself the following questions may help you refine your target market:
- How old are your clients?
- What sort of job do they do (e.g., high-pressure job)?
- What sort of income bracket are they in?
- Where do they live?
- What life stage are they in?
- What interests do they have?
- What are their attitudes toward certain things?
- What are their values?
#2: Understand Your Target Audience
Once you have a target audience in mind, think about the typical pain points they face in achieving optimal health and wellness.
For instance, let’s say your target audience is “first-time parents working a high-pressure job, like an event coordinator.” As they’re still adjusting to their new parenthood responsibilities, possible pain points include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by stress
- Feeling unsure of nutritional recommendations during the postpartum period
- Struggling to find time to prepare healthy meals or exercise
List everything you think of. And if you run out of ideas, the following may help you uncover more pain points you never thought of:
- Google search: What information is your target client looking for? One of the easiest ways to tell would be to search for relevant keywords on Google. Going back to the example of first-time parents, you could search for keywords like “first-time parent challenges,” “first-time parent wellness,” and “first-time parent fitness”—then see what comes up.
- Discussion forums and social media: Find out which digital platforms your target client spends the most time on (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Reddit), then pay attention to the conversations they’re engaged in. What kind of questions are they asking on Reddit, for instance? That’ll give you a good sense of their struggles.
#3: Think About How You Could Meet Your Target Audience’s Needs
It doesn't matter if you don't currently hold a relevant certification. You could always do that later. What’s important now is to ask yourself the following questions:
- What problems do you wish to solve?
- What are your interests?
- What are you most passionate about?
Your answers will help inform the specific type of coaching most suitable for you. For example, if you come alive when talking about:
- Healthy eating habits: nutrition coaching
- The importance of achieving mind-body connection: yoga instruction
- Stress-management strategies: health coaching
Review your target client’s pain points with your specific type of coaching service in mind: How can you tailor your services to their unique needs? To illustrate, assume the following:
- Your chosen type of coaching: nutrition coaching
- Your target audience: first-time parents working a high-pressure job, whose pain points include:
- Not entirely sure what “healthy meals” look like
- Struggling to find time to cook
- Interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet but worried about possible implications for nursing
Provided you’re interested in helping clients thrive with the power of plants, a possible niche for you to explore could thus be as a “Certified Plant-Based Nutrition Specialist passionate about helping first-time parents navigate the transition to a healthy, well-balanced, plant-based diet through tailored, time-effective nutrition plans.”
#4: Determine Your Competitive Advantage
Niche marketing minimizes the competition you face, not eliminates it. So how could you stand out from the other health and wellness coaches in your niche? Answer: By differentiating yourself and your coaching services.
And that's where competitive analysis comes into play.
A competitive analysis assesses your competitors' services, offerings, and sales tactics, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses relative to your own. It could help you see your business’s unique advantages and potential barriers to growth—so you can take steps to strengthen your marketing and business strategies
Identify your competitors. Possible ways you could do this include:
- Do a quick Google search: Think of a few keywords a potential client might search to find you, such as [service] + [location]. For example, “plant-based nutritionist Sacramento.” Then, note the top businesses on the first page of your search results.
- Monitor social media and forum conversations: If potential clients are sharing their pain points on these platforms, there’s a good chance other users would recommend suitable coaches. So, keep an eye out for recommended businesses.
- Ask your clients (if applicable): Existing clients are crucial to identifying your competition. After all, they likely sifted through other coaches before deciding on hiring you.
- Gather information about your competitors: Once you’ve identified your competitors, evaluate them in terms of the following: Service scope, pricing, geographic reach, promotion strategy, positioning, and reputation
- Analyze your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses: Carefully consider each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. Preparing a competitive analysis table where you rank your competitors in the criteria listed above on a scale from 1 to 10 may help you better visualize your findings.
- Determine your competitive advantage: Now, ask yourself: What are you good at—and how could you differentiate yourself from the competition? For example, if you’re a nutritionist and most of your competitors only offer physical, in-person coaching, maybe you could provide virtual options.
Niche marketing involves selling to a small, well-defined segment of the market who would benefit most from your coaching services.
Beyond cutting down on your competition, niche marketing also helps you craft stronger, more appealing marketing messages and attracts quality leads who’re likely to become loyal clients.
The first—and arguably—most crucial step to finding a suitable niche for your health and wellness coaching business lies in defining your target client. Who are they? What are their pain points? Then, think about how you could best help them in a way that's aligned with your passion and values. Finally, determine your competitive advantage so you truly stand out from the crowd.
Ready to niche down? The comprehensive programs at AFPA offer you the specialized knowledge, tools, and support you need to carve out a place for yourself in the health and wellness coaching industry. Examples of courses you could go for include:
- Plant-Based Nutrition Specialist Certification: Become an expert in plant-based nutrition and help clients thrive with the power of plants.
- Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist Certification: Empower new moms and moms-to-be to feel their absolute best and more
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