How to listen for your niche

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Finding your niche as a creative professional is not easy.

But there is an easier way -- you can let your niche find you.

Wait, what?

Yes, that's right. You can let your niche find you.

I know because I did it and, over the years, I've guided many creative professionals to do it for themselves as well.

It's so much better than wracking your brain.

But how do you do it?

First of all, it requires interaction -- not hiding!

It takes listening to the market.

In the video above, I've shared 3 things to listen for. Your niche is only one of them.

When it's time to market to your niche, listening will help you too.

Here's how:

  1. Listen for your niche -- let your niche find you. That's how I found you -- creative professionals. I looked around me and asked, "What do these people need that I can help with?" All I had to do was open my eyes. The rest is history. :)
  2. Listen for your "marketing content" -- that is, the language you should use to talk about what you do. It's often not what you think. How do your clients and prospects refer to what they need from you or how you help them? It often involves learning to tolerate an awkward silence.
  3. Listen for your "content marketing" or ideas for "pain point content" -- that's what they ask you for help with. What do they think they need? What do they really need? Can you create content about both?  

I gave all sorts of examples -- watch the video


Want more? Scroll down to read the transcript of the video and:

Read the transcript below....

All right, welcome everyone. It's October, 2021 and I'm ilise benun of Marketing-Mentor (Marketing dash Mentor) and this is the Office Hours for October for The Simplest Marketing Plan. 

We're in the fourth quarter, coming to the end of the year, and I'm very curious: 

  • How'd you do this year and are you close to reaching your goal? 
  • If you're not, do you know what you need to do in order to reach your goal? (That's a hint about marketing, of course.) 

Today, I want to talk a little bit about the idea of ‘listening to the market.’ This is something that I've been talking about, actually, for a very long time, without getting too specific about it, and the more I talk about it, lately, people are asking me, “What do you mean, ‘listen to the market’? And how, exactly, do you listen to the market?” 

That's me, actually, listening to the market, when I get asked that question, to say all right, it's time to turn that into content. 

So, that's your first tip. When someone says: “What do you mean by that? What are you talking about?”—as it relates to your business, of course—that is content. 

I am turning this idea of listening to the market into a bunch of content, and even this video is going to be part of that content, of course. So, I thought I would break it down. That's actually, very often, my process. I’ll take an idea and then, little by little, I just keep deepening it, keep adding to it, keep improving it. 

I want to point to that, also, as a way to create content; because I find that often, people take an idea and then they do it, and then they put it out there, and then they move on to the next idea. You can do that, but it's kind of a waste of an idea. 

I want you to always be thinking about ways that you can add and update and improve and deepen your content ideas, and change them and add different examples—because that way, you'll get more mileage with them. 

So, that's what I'm doing with this idea of listening to the market. 

The way I used to talk about it, actually, was I used to say that, ‘everything flows from the market.’ I still think about it that way. But, it's easier to think about it in terms of listening to the market, because that's something you can do. I submit to you that, if you listen to the market, what you don't have to do, as a result, is rack your brain. 

That's what I find people doing most of the time—racking your brain for 

  • what am I going to talk about? How am I going to say it? What's the best way to say it?

This idea, basically, means that you can stop racking your brain. 

Instead, open your ears to gear your attention outward—that’s another way that I think about it—and listen to what the market is telling you. 

Usually, the market is smarter than you are. I have always found that the market is smarter than I am, if I am willing to listen to it. 

But the trick is that it requires interaction. You can't be hiding behind anything. It really does require that you interact. Listening requires interaction. 

I've broken it down into three different types of listening: 

  1. One is listening for a niche, or for your niche, or more than one—because I do like to sometimes put them in the plural. 
  2. The second one is listening for your “marketing content”—which is different from your “content marketing.” Your marketing content is the language you use to describe what you do, and for whom, and how you do it. It's what's on your website, for example, but not on your blog. 
  3. Your blog, if you have one, or your LinkedIn profile—the articles that you publish to your LinkedIn profile—is your content marketing. So that's the third piece—how do you listen for content for your content marketing.

Just as a reminder, content marketing is one of the three marketing tools in the Simplest Marketing Plan. The other two are “targeted outreach” and “strategic networking.” (And actually, more and more people are, little by little, going back out into the world. It's true! At the moment, it's happening. I am getting stories of people doing strategic networking in person and in real time. So that's a choice, obviously.) 


Listening for the Niche 

But, coming back to the first one, listening for the niche ... . The story that I always tell about myself is, my niche, as y'all know because you're in it, is creative professionals. People marketing, what I consider to be or what you consider to be, creative services. 

But I didn't come up with that myself. I listened to the market. I looked around, 33+ years ago, at all the people I knew who were creative people, and they were very disorganized; they weren't promoting themselves. I saw the need and so I just tried to offer my help. 

That's actually something I said recently that someone quoted, so I'll say it again: “Self promotion is not about pitching your ideas or yourself to anyone. It's about offering to help the people who need your help.” 

If you just reframe it in your mind that way, it might be a little bit easier to do. 

So, that's what I did kind of naturally, kind of unconsciously. At the very beginning, I just looked around. What do the people I know seem to need and what would they be willing to pay for it? At the time, it was $15 an hour I was charging; a little bit more, now. But, that is how my market found me. 

I really think, if you listen to the market, your niche—your market—will find you. It might take time, but it's more organic that way. And, it works better that way than you trying to force yourself onto a particular market. 

So just be listening for: What market is out there, that I have access to, that needs my help, and then be offering your help to them. 

Another version of this, as another example, is Holly Morris, a copywriter who some of you may know. She is and was positioning herself as a copywriter for travel and tourism. Then, when the pandemic hit, that wasn't working so well. But a subset of that market actually started finding her—that was the vacation rental area of the travel and tourism world. So, she just started to get a couple clients, a couple referrals, and helping them and serving their needs. 

But it didn't quite occur to her, until I pointed it out, that that is the market speaking to her. And that she should listen to it and say: All right, that's my niche, now. That's where I'm going to focus. That's who I'm going to speak to. Those are the needs I'm going to speak to. And those are the people I'm going to go looking for.

Again, it could be right in front of you and you may not just see it, quite yet. So, that's listening for a niche.  


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