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Advisor Insights

Advisors, Your Niche Is Bigger Than You Think

Here’s how to expand the reach of your marketing without having to go beyond your niche.

A photo of author Sonya Dreizler.

Let’s talk about how to expand the reach of your niche marketing. Guess what? You don’t have to expand your niche! Hear me out.

First, I want you to do an exercise. Close your eyes for 30 seconds and imagine a CEO. That’s it. Just imagine a CEO.

Go ahead, I’ll wait here!

Alright, you’re back. Now, think about the CEO that you imagined.

When most people first do this exercise, they imagine the CEO as a white man, usually older. A small percentage of people will imagine a white woman or a man of color, and hardly anyone imagines a CEO who is a woman of color. Even I imagined a white man the first time I did this exercise, and I’m a woman who used to be a CEO.

Our brains make assumptions based on patterns we’ve seen—in real life and in entertainment and media. These quick reactions are normal and a part of life. I’m not here to tell you that if you imagined that CEO as a white man that you’re doing something wrong. The point of the exercise is to show that when we slow down and look at our own thoughts more objectively, we have an opportunity to correct or adjust them if needed.

So, how can we retrain our brains so that our ideas of what a leader looks like include women, nonbinary people, people of color, and especially women of color?

Yes, This Really Is an Article About Marketing

Right about now, you might be thinking, “Oh, here she goes with the diversity and inclusion talk. I thought this was an article about marketing. Tell me how to grow my business.”

While diversity and representation are elements here, retraining our brains to check our thoughts for bias is a marketing concept, and one that is free, right in front of us, and extraordinarily impactful. If we leave our reactions unexamined, our prior experiences will limit our imagination of what is possible, and we miss opportunities we don’t even realize exist.

This brain retraining is a crucial mindset shift to bring to your marketing.

You likely already know about the benefits of niche marketing:

  • Your marketing speaks directly to someone’s experience.
  • Your services cater to the specific needs of your clients.
  • Both clients and prospects feel seen and understood.
  • Because most of your clients face similar challenges, your team has less research to perform.
  • There is a high likelihood of referrals from inside your niche.

Let’s think about niches. Yours might be dentists, small-business owners, or former professional athletes. When you have a niche, you both market to and serve this very specific group of people based on things this group has in common, such as life or business stages, income patterns, tax strategies, and other specific financial needs.

Now, let’s go back and do that same imagination exercise we did at the beginning of the article and replace CEO with a niche. For the sake of example here, let’s choose dentists as a niche.

So, close your eyes for 30 seconds, and this time, imagine a dentist.

I’ll wait!

Perhaps, having already retrained your brain following the first exercise, you imagined a room full of men and women dentists or a variety of races and ethnicities. If not, that’s ok. This gives an opportunity to pause and check our assumptions for accuracy.

Is Your Imagination Limiting the Potential Growth of Your Business?

If who you imagined is a very narrow view of what a dentist could look like, this is a heads-up that your imagination could be limiting the top of your business funnel—unintentionally limiting whom you are marketing to and your ability to reach the full scope of your ideal prospects.

A pie chart representing the percentage of dentists who are white men. - source: Morningstar Analysts

Continuing with the dentist example: 35% of dentists are women. And 30% of dentists are people of color. So, if you only imagine a dentist as a white man, you’ve narrowed the scope of ideal prospects by more than half. From fewer prospects, come fewer clients.

Your imagination could be limiting the growth of your business. So, how do we turn that around and let your imagination help open doors for your business instead?

Retrain Your Brain and Expand What Is Possible

You’ve likely read many articles about advisor marketing and (I hope) have your own marketing strategy. I don’t want you to change that. Instead, make sure it’s reaching the full breadth of your niche. To do that, let’s consider ways to retrain your brain, so that the next time you work on your marketing, you do so with a broader perspective. This way, you can create more-inclusive marketing that reaches more people and content that sparks more meaningful relationships.

Step 1: Pause and Reflect

Train yourself to hit the pause button on some of your immediate reactions, so you can reflect on the assumptions your brain is using. There are so many opportunities to do this. A couple of examples:

  • When you call a business and someone picks up the phone, what blanks does your brain fill in about the person answering?
  • When you’re walking outside and pass a stranger on the street, what thoughts come to mind and what assumptions is your brain relying on to inform those thoughts?

When you hit the pause button and reflect, ask yourself: Is your immediate reaction an objective observation? Or might it be based on stereotypes? Or is it possibly a repetition of previous reactions?

Our brains make assumptions all day, every day. Being mindful, and noticing and paying attention to your own thoughts, is the critical first step to retraining your brain and expanding your imagination.

Step 2: Listen

Seek out new-to-you voices—ones that will widen your perspective. If you aren’t intentional in the content you consume, whether that be articles, books, podcasts, or social-media follows, you may find you are unintentionally learning from authors, journalists, podcasters, and professionals who are overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly men. If this is the case, seek out and listen to the voices of women and people of color, especially those in your niche and field. Once you start listening to a wider variety of perspectives, your brain will naturally learn, grow, and expand whom you think of as a CEO, dentist, or small-business owner. As you listen to the full scope of your niche, your brain’s default reactions and assumptions will naturally expand.

Step 3: Incorporate Into Your Marketing

A graphic of three things to incorporate into your marketing plan. - source: Morningstar Analysts

After you’ve put the first two techniques to work, it’s time to review how your business and marketing efforts resonate with the new, fuller scope of your niche. Although the people who make up a client niche have many financial opportunities and challenges in common, this does not mean that everyone in that niche also consumes media, absorbs marketing, or even makes referrals in the same way. People’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and culture have an impact on where, how, and from whom they absorb marketing. To reach the full scope of your audience, you’ll need to expand your thinking of both whom you are marketing to and how you market to them.

Some questions to consider when reviewing a marketing campaign:

  • Does this campaign reach the full scope of my niche?
  • If the campaign does reach them, does the marketing resonate with them?
  • Do all the people who could be in your niche see themselves in your marketing?

Creating marketing (and services!) that attracts the full breadth of that niche, allows you to keep your niche the same, while growing your opportunity set. Doing so widens the top of the sales funnel by ensuring that your marketing reaches and resonates with everyone in your niche.

Reimagine Your Niche

When we pause to examine our thoughts and create space for change, our imagination can open doors to growth. Combining mindfulness, listening, and creativity can turn that initial imagination challenge on its head. You can reimagine whom a CEO can be. Reimagine a niche of dentists. Reimagine a niche of small-business owners. Reimagine your own niche to see the full scope of whom you can reach and whom you can serve.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Morningstar.

About Morningstar, Inc. Morningstar, Inc. is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The Company offers an extensive line of products and services for individual investors, financial advisors, asset managers and owners, retirement plan providers and sponsors, and institutional investors in the debt and private capital markets. Morningstar provides data and research insights on a wide range of investment offerings, including managed investment products, publicly listed companies, private capital markets, debt securities, and real-time global market data. Morningstar also offers investment management services through its investment advisory subsidiaries, with approximately $251 billion in assets under advisement and management as of June 30, 2021. The Company has operations in 29 countries. For more information, visit www.morningstar.com/company. Follow Morningstar on Twitter @MorningstarInc.