Nice Niche!

I was sitting in a waiting room the other day, leafing through a magazine, when an ad caught my eye. It was for a moving company with a very specific target market. Winnipeg-based The Seniors Moving Company offers seniors and their families help with a variety of circumstances such as downsizing or relocating to a retirement or nursing home, and they also assist with selling homes and their contents through and estate services.

“What a brilliant idea!” I thought. Even though I have no such need in my life, I found myself pulling up the company’s website to find out more about them. They have a simple website that contains helpful information, like an extensive, locally-customized address change checklist, a detailed list of what sorts of things they do for their clients, and testimonials from past customers.

According to the site, The Seniors Moving Company will “honour the emotions, values and wishes of every client in coordinating the practical details of their move”. The company’s owner is certified in conflict resolution and has more than a decade of education and experience working with seniors.

Hmm… a business devoted to providing expert service to a specific group, that has in-depth local knowledge and experience with its target clients’ emotional needs, values, and wishes…. sounds an awful lot like a successful niche law practice, doesn’t it?

The topic of niches has been on my mind lately. Everywhere I turn, I’m seeing articles and blog posts touting the savvy path of developing a narrow but in-depth focus on a particular practice area or clientele.

Drew Hasselback had a good article on DMC Law, an Ontario firm that specializes in business law for dentists (Finding their niche: young lawyers bite into the dental market). What seemed like a stretch at first — only dentists? — turned out to be easier than making a name for themselves in a broader practice area. Firm co-founder David Mayzel was initially skeptical, but soon saw that “diving deep” could work:

No matter what you try to do, it’s going to be hard at the beginning, Mr. Mayzel adds. Stick with it, focus, and become the recognized expert in a particular field. “Try not to be a generalist and dabble in different areas, because you’re likely going to drown. You can’t be everything to everyone. Try to be the one person to one group.”

Bob Ambrogi shared a new legal blog, Michael McCabe’s IPethics & INsights, noting that it was indeed the first of its kind, blending “legal ethics, professional discipline and professional liability in the specific context of patent and trademark law.” A niche that was untapped, until now. According to Ambrogi,

“There is a lesson here for other lawyers who are just thinking about starting blogs. It may seem like there are no topics yet to be covered. But perhaps by focusing on a more narrow aspect of a broader topic, there is a unique niche to be found.”

When I reported on several unrepresented blog topics in Canada, Kevin O’Keefe chimed in with words of encouragement, showing that the rewards can be greater than just increased business and that there’s a need for niche reporting now more than ever:

“Chasing an uncovered niche in the law is not only valuable for you in developing business, but like uncovered state houses, it’s valuable for society.

With the decline in newspapers and traditional media, we’re not getting the coverage on a myriad of niches that we have in the past. We’ve also come to expect that when we turn to the Internet we’ll find high quality information on any subject in the world. You can fill the voids for us.”

Whether it’s your blog or your entire practice built around a very specific market, it’s clear there are  major benefits to nurturing your niche, and we’re only just seeing the tip of the iceberg now. I’m looking forward to seeing what new niche blogs will pop up on  in the near future!

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