How To Find Your Target Customer and Build Your Niche

One of the most important ingredients in building a brand is to focus on a niche. To figure out your niche, you have to know who your target customer is. The more detailed the better. This guide gives you some solid examples on how to find your target customer, thereby finding your niche in a crowded market.
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April 27, 2022

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Who was the 3rd person to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean?

Not sure? Ok, try this - Who was the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean? You know that one - it's Amelia Earhart.

She was also the 3rd person to do it.

Earhart isn't known for being the 3rd person to fly over the Atlantic. She's known for being the first woman to do it.

That thought exercise comes from the "Law Of Category" chapter in The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Read that book. It's one of our 3 must read marketing books.  If you're not a big reader, just read that chapter.

How is this relevant to you? Because if you're not careful, you're going to be just another PT in a market full of just another PT's. We’ve seen this time and time again from working with PT's in the Middle East for almost 10 years. The majority are doing the same thing.

Starting a Personal Training business, then expecting customers to turn up is naive. "Build It and They Will Come" no longer applies. I'm not sure it ever did. And I’m pretty sure that line came from the Jim Morrison dream scene in Wayne’s World...

You have to stand-out.

You have to dominate your category (or better yet - create your own category.)

You have to find your niche.

Party on Wayne

How do you find your niche?

It comes down to one question you’ve heard over and over again - "who is your target customer"?

And the best way to find your target customer is to look in the mirror.

Jim Bathurst, Head Trainer at Nerd Fitness, is a Qualified Strength and Conditioning Coach. He also loves Star Wars - and that's the golden nugget. Because to build a niche brand, you need something in common with your target customer.

Nerd Fitness is a great example of creating a niche in the fitness industry. A group of nerds built a brand helping other "nerds, mutants and misfits" get healthy by providing valuable fitness content. By focussing on a small niche of customers, like themselves, Nerd Fitness exploded. They built a community of nerds who wanted to get healthy, but were  intimidated by their local gym. This got people talking. It was different. It was a new category. And they've built a successful brand, attracting many "non-nerds" along the way.

Imagine building a PT Business for golfers. There are loads of golfers in the Middle East. Many want help with their fitness. They want to get around a course in summer without collapsing on the 15th tee box. They don’t care about their deadlift PR - but they do care about adding another 50 yards to their drive. And if you know how to build the muscles to do that, they’re going to pay you. Furthermore, many companies have corporate golf memberships for networking. And golf is not a cheap game to play. There’s a good chance your target customer has some disposable income to spend on their fitness.

Building a PT brand focussed on golfers could be a great niche - if you also play golf. It’s that commonality. That shared interest. That's where things fuse to create a niche. Golfing clients are far more likely to choose you as their PT over one who doesn't play at all.

VIVO Fitness Ambassador, Rhian Adams, is one of the most well-know PT's in the Middle East. She's also a mother of 2 young children. After becoming a mother, Rhian became personally aware of the impact pregnancy and motherhood have on a body. Using her experience as inspiration, Rhian built her brand around a niche. Pre and Post-Natal Fitness.  Rhian’s mission is to help mother’s be the best version of themselves possible. Her slogan “Beautiful Bump to Bulletproof Body” says it all. Not only does Rhian have a full roster of 1-on-1 clients, she also teaches courses, hosts seminars, has endorsement deals and is writing a book. All from dominating a small niche in a huge market.

Are there areas of your life in common with potential clients? Have you solved any problems which you can now solve for others? Have you undertaken your own health transformation which could inspire? How did you do it? Are there niche’ products or systems you can tap in to?

Get a bit personal. What do you enjoy - outside and inside of your own training?

When I started VIVO Fitness back in 2013 - we didn't sell treadmills. Deliberately. I hated running on a treadmill. I went through my own transformation in 2011 after stumbling into Functional Training in Australia. I loved swinging kettlebells, throwing slam balls, punching sand bags. It made me happy and it got me results. Even better - the gym I trained in only played 80’s rock music - which I liked, as did the owner of the gym. Another commonality he shared with his clients. Even if we weren’t in the mood to train, swinging a kettlebell to Def Leppard soon fixed that.

And so when it came to building VIVO in Dubai 2 years later, I focussed on products that worked for me, which the market wanted. Products I knew well. Products I could talk about passionately and authentically. I had nothing to offer the treadmill fan boys, so I didn’t try to.

It didn't take long for VIVO to build a reputation as Functional Equipment Experts. Clients like Fitness First, Dubai Ladies Club and Fit Republik all purchased those same products from us. They had a problem which we enjoyed solving (affordable, durable, functional gym equipment).

If we tried to supply everything to everyone - we wouldn't be here today. Focus matters. Over time, we grew our team and expanded our range, based on the needs of our customers. But the niche had to come first.

As for you - you can't be a PT to everyone, so don't try to be. In the beginning, focus on your niche.

Speaking of treadmills - most people new to exercise don't like using them. Yet how many trainers start a PT session putting their client on a treadmill? "You need to warm up" they say, or "You need to work on your weaknesses". Garbage. That client isn't sticking around for long. Can you get results without making those clients run? Do you hate running too? Could you be the "Anti-Running PT"? I'd hire you.

Do you use kettlebells in your own training? How about building your brand around them and focussing on clients who want to use kettlebells? The Jump Rope Dudes in the USA have built their entire brand around a jump rope, because they themselves love jumping-rope.

Are you into crypto? Are there any PT’s accepting Bitcoin as payment or could you become the first Crypto-Friendly PT in your market? Set up a small crypto-investing Whatsapp group with all your clients. Share projects and investment ideas while changing their lives through effective personal training?

How about Dad's with beer guts and lower back pain - because juggling a busy job and raising a family forced them to sacrifice exercise years ago. Plenty of those clients around. Are you a parent? Can you relate to a parent’s busy schedule? Can you build shorter, more effective work-outs to suit their time constraints?

Combine your experiences, interests and/or skills to find your niche. Then double down.

If you've gotten to this point, you're thinking "but if I narrow my niche down too far, won't I limit my potential clients"?

The answer is yes but also no.

By focussing on a narrow sub-set of the market, you will limit the total number of clients you appeal to. And that's a good thing.

If your target customer is a Dad that golfs (because you're a Dad and/or you play golf) - then you've removed all non-Dads and non-Golfers from your client pond.

That won't feel right. It’s counter-intuitive. It’s the opposite of what you think you should do.

But you should do it.

You'll go from being a tiny fish fighting for food in an ocean, to being a shark in a pond, slapping food away because you’re eating too much.

finding your target customer will turn you into a shark in a pond.
Be the shark

You’ll no longer compete with the majority of personal trainers in the market. You've found your niche. A category you can own. You can charge a higher price. And if you’re good at it, your customers will tell their friends about you. And guess what... they're probably Dad's that play golf.

Demand for your services will increase. You'll need to hire someone to work with Mum's who golf, because your clients probably have wives. They’re seeing the result of your work.

Once you’re at this point - you can expand in to other niches. Or just keep doing what you're doing. You now have options.

So keep digging in to yourself and find that target customer. Take your time. Get as detailed as you can. Then build your business for them.

What sort of people do you like being around? What do they have in common? What specific areas of health and fitness interest you the most? Is there a piece of equipment you love more than others? What's something non-fitness related that excites you? Do you have any hobbies? Any weird music tastes? Do you enjoy writing? Can you write short stories about the results your client's are getting? Is there a specific demographic you relate to?

Within these questions lies your niche. Brainstorm for long enough and you'll find it. If you do this right, you'll have more clients than you'll know what to do with.

Once you've found your niche - it's time to think about branding.

Has your target customer never exercised before? Your branding should be light and welcoming, showing how fun exercise can be and results they can expect. Targeting older customers interested in longevity? Stop with the fancy backflip videos on Instagram - that's going to turn them away. And you look stupid.

Branding is crucial and it all starts with the golden rule from the master of marketing, Seth Godin:

Don't Be Boring.

Part 3 of this series is going to show you how to take your niche business and build an effective, not-boring brand to match it. We’ll discuss ideas around naming your business. We’ll show you free tools to find the right fonts and colours. And yes - they really do matter.

Drop your email in the box below and we’ll let you know when Part 3 is ready.

In the meantime - we hope this Part 2 has got you thinking about your niche and why you need one.

If you want to chat about your new business, need some advice, or if you just want to tell us this article sucked, send us a note - support@vivofitness.com

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