“42% of startups fail, mostly because they ignore the opportunity to capitalize on a niche and don’t actually provide a solution to a problem,” Judge Graham, a Texas-based entrepreneur and investor, tells Forbes. “If you’re only a generalist, unfortunately you might as well just quit then and there.” The same goes for the speaking industry – carving out a niche is essential to standing out, securing bookings, and growing a successful speaking career. "Anything and everything" simply doesn’t fly as a specialty, and neither does a target audience of “anyone and everyone”. By determining the market that will most benefit from your knowledge, and then marketing yourself to that niche, you can set yourself up for public speaking success.
What are your specialist subjects?
Speaking doesn’t just require passion, you also need to have expertise in a certain area to offer credibility and true value to your audience. So take the time to think about your speciality. If you only started your first marketing job a few months ago, for example, you probably lack the knowledge and experience needed to speak to other marketers about industry secrets. Once you’ve honed your speciality, you can then drill down even deeper to reveal a well-defined niche. For instance, if you’re an expense reduction expert who helps businesses slash costs and boost revenue, you can narrow down your target audience even further to small businesses with under 50 employees. Actually, you can get even more specific by defining which types of small businesses you help with cost reduction (small agricultural businesses, for example).
Unusual niches are viable
Keep in mind, your specialist subject doesn’t have to be commonplace; unusual niches are viable as long as there’s a clear target audience to benefit from your knowledge. For example, SkidHeaven.com is a construction equipment supplier that sells high-quality parts for skid steers, mini excavators, and other construction equipment. By getting into public speaking, Skid Heaven could reach a number of relevant businesses in their target market, such as, agricultural, landscaping, and construction businesses. Alternatively, if you're a gemologist (aka as a jeweler, goldsmith, or someone who otherwise works with gemstones), you may specialize in a certain area like antique and period jewelry. Museums, colleges, and antiques clubs can benefit from this type of in-depth knowledge.
Expand your niche in time
That said, you don’t have to stay within your niche entirely – although initially having a strong focused speciality is an easier way to start out as a speaker. Once you have some experience of speaking under your belt, you can branch out by expanding your niche. For example, if your speciality is minimizing expenses for small engineering businesses, you could extend this also to small law firms with just one or two partners. Since these two industries rarely converge, this is a simple and straightforward way of reaching a second target audience.
Defining a niche is key to growing a thriving speaking career. By determining your specialist subjects and expanding your niche over time, you can set yourself up for long-term success as a public speaker.