Friday, November 02, 2012

Starting Out 5. Know Your Niche

Last night in Tokyo I sat with a group of students at BodyChance discussing their future careers as Alexander Technique teachers. We had many interesting exchanges, and I thought to share a simulation of my exchange with Makiko, a bass player and new student who started in April this year…

So Makiko, who are you interested to teach once you graduate?

Office Worker (called salaryman in Japan)
Well, that’s nearly all of Japan. You need more specifity than that…

Office Worker in Pain
OK - but that’s still nearly everyone in Japan. What kind of pain: back pain? Shoulder and neck pain? Mental stress?

Office worker with neck and shoulder pain
This is getting clearer. But what age group - young people at a low level, older people with more responsibilities? That niche is still too vague to connect with in a meaningful way…

Young men and woman office workers with neck and shoulder pain
So here’s the thing: in Japan at least, men do not like to admit they are in any kind of difficulty. The cultural injunction here is: bear the pain silently, don’t complain, be a man. Woman, on the other hand, are quite willing to express how they feel, discuss it with you, explain anything you ask. So you have two distinct behaviours here. A website for an office woman with neck and shoulder pain, and a website for an office man with neck and shoulder pain may have a completely different flavour and emphasis. So which one?

Young office woman worker with neck and shoulder pain
Now we are ready to do more research. Do they have the time? I was speaking with a young office worker yesterday, and she told me she works from 10am to 8pm 6 days a week (this is Japan folks - that’s how they do it here). But as she can not afford to live near work, she must leave home around 8am and returns home after eating around 11pm. On her day off she sees her boyfriend. So when is she going to have a lesson?

Young part-time office worker with neck and shoulder pain
Can these woman afford to take lessons? How many live at home (and have no rent or food expenses)? Makiko was not clear about this, so what got clear is what needs to get clear.

That’s how it works when you Sharpen the Ax first i.e. do some deep research before rushing off to create your website and facebook page. As you dig down into your niche, you start to discover the reality. You learn if you are realistic in thinking these people will answer your CTA (Call To Action) of your website, introductory talk or flyer and come to your sessions.

Have you defined your niche (or niches) as deeply as this?

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