Episode 286 - Featuring Lee Matthew Jackson
September 30, 2020
Your niche is not always obvious and it can take time to develop the experience, understanding and passion for a particular demographic. I share with you two occasions where I discovered my niche and how.
I share how Event Engine found it’s sweet spot in the events industry and how my experience with Event Engine launched the Agency Trailblazer brand.
Episode 281 – Managing debt in your agency – click here
Youtube – How I discovered my niches (Story time) – click here
Your niche is not always obvious and it can take time to develop the experience, understanding and passion for a particular demographic. I’d like to share with you two occasions where I discovered my niche and how.
I’ll share how Event Engine found it’s sweet spot in the events industry and how my experience with Event Engine launched the Agency Trailblazer brand.
Sit back, relax and join me as we go back in time…
Posted by Lee Matthew Jackson on Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer Podcast. This is your host Lee, and on today’s show I share my story, the story of how I discovered my niche. You see, your niche may not be very obvious to you and to be frank, it does take time to work it out. Therefore, I share my story today in order to help you understand how you may be able to discover your own niche.
Remember, this podcast is sponsored by Cloudways. If you are looking for cloud hosting, check them out over on cloudways.Com. They support this show and they also power all of my online activities. I highly, highly recommend them. And also, if you are not part of our online community, you can check that out over on agencytrailblazer.com/group. Today’s show was taken from one of the live streams that I did a couple of weeks ago. You can get all of the latest live streams over on leematthewjackson.com/live. And with that said, let’s crack on with the show.
Good morning, everybody. My name is Lee Matthew Jackson and today is story time. I want to share with you a couple of stories of how I discovered my niche twice, how cool that? It’s easy for someone to say you need to niche down. But actually niching down is quite difficult. It is a journey. It takes time for you to be able to understand who your ideal audience is, who it is that you want to serve, that you can add the most value to. And I want to share a couple of experiences I had when discovering my niche. You may have heard this story a few times, but still bear with me. Listen in and see if you can pull from it any pointers for you and for your business.
So back in the 2000s, we were a full service agency. I was in fact drafted into the agency as the digital guy. And that is very important to the story because that experience of being drafted into an agency which focused only on design to print and being brought in as the digital guy actually affected, what business decisions I made in the future. It actually affected the Agency Trailblazer community so do stay tuned as to how that happened.
So I was drafted in the very early days to add digital to essentially a full service agency. It was full service for print design branding, and I was there to add digital aspects such as websites, apps and marketing online. Anything you could imagine that was my role and we pretty much served anybody who was interested. And we recognized that that was a tough place to be. It was tough to run a business that had no particular focus, no particular niche, no particular ideal client, thus no particular messaging that we could service.
It actually took us a long time to develop the niche. We we tried three different areas. We tried the IT sector, we tried the events sector, and we also tried pharmaceuticals. And we thought we were hedging are bets. We’d gone from no niche to three natures, which maybe sounds good, but we were still diluting our messaging. We had three different types of customer that we could service who all had very unique problems in very unique industries. That meant our website was still ridiculously diluted so that we were not alienating any one of those three areas. We picked IT because we’d had a couple of good clients in the past. We picked pharmaceuticals because we had a couple of good pharmaceutical clients in the past and we picked events because we had had a good, strong record of producing amazing brands for those events.
Over time, it became obvious to us that whilst we had niched, we needed to push a little further and we needed to stick our stake in the ground and say we’re only going to serve one type of community and we didn’t do it straight away. We continued to service those three niches and continued to dilute our messaging until the point we recognized there was a particular problem in the events industry we believed that we could solve.
That problem was websites, back then the cost of an event website with registration and all of the aspects that were needed to run a successful sales website for an event were ridiculously expensive. They were cost prohibitive. You had to rely on an agency to do everything. We knew the power of WordPress, we had experience with it and we knew we could develop a product that could change the events industry and would help countless event’s organizers all around the world quickly and efficiently get their events online.
Of course. Fast forward years into the future and you have things like Wix and all of those great products that are out there for clients to grab hold of and try and build a site with. Back then, none of that existed. So we were like an early days website as a service platform and we didn’t know it was called WAAS or website as a service back then.
So we started to develop that and we tried it with a few of our existing customers and it was very, very successful. We realized that within the events industry we had found something. We had found an answer to a problem that they had. And the only way we were going to effectively and efficiently market that product and the services that we had around it, which were design and branding, was first to go all in. We could no longer afford to have three niches. We could no longer afford to service the pharmaceutical industry and the IT industry and dilute our message on our website and we switched tack.
We started to change things like our product names, the wording that we used on the websites, the conversations that we had, the target audience that we looked to attract, the leads that we tried to generate because we recognized we had a great product for a particular industry.
We also had a passion for the events industry because we’d created so many brands in the past that have been so successful for the industry. I myself came from a long line of event organizing in my past jobs where I’d been heavily involved in big events that we had organized both the audio visual and all of the technology side. So I was passionate about it. All three of us directors wanted to be able to serve the events industry with this cool product that we’ve developed that we’d found would solve the problem that our target audience were having. That’s when we started to go all in and we started to remove all of the extra distractions.
So what happened? In a tweet, we happened upon a problem that one of our target audiences had. We created a solution for it. We tested it and then went all in. So that meant we went from no niche to three niches to one. And the rest is history. That business grew. It split into two, one focusing on design, one focusing on the development aspect.
You know, it’s been a wonderful journey ever since that. But I mentioned didn’t know that I was drafted in very early on as the digital aspect of that business. That in itself affected what I did then with the Agency Trailblazer brand. I remember coming into that agency and adding a whole new service. I was able to take a print design company into a new space where they could compete against other digital businesses in the events space.
That was an amazing experience and that’s something that I am proud of to this very day and that’s when I decided with the spare time I had to launch Angled Crown. This would be a business that would do what I did for the Event Engine brand for other companies. I would go in and I would add digital services to your design to print agency. And that’s exactly where I went. I launched that business with a very particular niche, using the experience I’d gained from helping Event Engine build the original brand. I focused in on some very specific productised services. I soon recognized that I needed to build my own audience.
In my past business, we’d had a ready made audience of past clients who then moved to other businesses and took them with us with Angled Crown, I was brand new and that’s where I launched the Agency Trailblazer Podcast. I wanted to use the experience that I’d had of agency life, both the good and the bad. Get other people involved with through interviews and learn together how to build better agencies. If I could attract agencies to the brand of Agency Trailblazer and the brand of Lee Matthew Jackson, then ideally I’d also attract those same agencies to the Angled Crown service.
Now fast forward to nowadays, Agency Trailblazer has long overtaken anything that I do in Angled Crown and Angled Crown has been closed down because my core business is now Event Engine and Agency Trailblazer, which is phenomenal. But you can see from these two journeys that it’s life experience, it’s the mistakes we make and the good ideas that we have and the things that go right that actually help us to build our niche.
So if you are struggling to define your niche right now, don’t get stressed. Don’t feel bad about it, because you’re probably on a journey.
There are practical things that you can do to help you to define that niche, but I would argue it’s probably not something you’re going to develop overnight. It’s not something you are going to get right straight away. I didn’t get it right the first time around. We tried multiple niches, but that’s fine, because with the mistakes that we made, we were able to learn and eventually focus in. The second time around, I did know my niche. But if you watch a previous live that I did, the content that I created attracted the wrong type of client. So even though I knew my niche, I had not created the right type of content. If I remember, I’ll put a link to that one in here as well. I think it’s entitled something like Is your content attracting the right audience?
So you can see even from those two experiences, mistakes were still made. Things still took time. So when you feel bad about niching, remind yourself you are on a journey. Have niching at the front and center of what you do. Look at the projects that you are working on. Evaluate them. Look at the data, look at the experiences. Look where your passions lie. Look what your skills and your strengths lie. Test the market and slowly develop your niche.
There is nothing wrong with taking it one step at a time. It’s exactly what we did in both of my past experiences of niching. We tested, we iterated, we made mistakes. We tried new things and developed our niche over time. There are courses out there that will help define a niche really, really quickly and they are great. I have also created content from my experience on how to develop a niche and go for it. So if you are looking to just jump in on something, I would say go for it. But if you are in the position where you’ve got lots of projects across multiple sectors, multiple industries, you’re still trying to work out where you want to go, then I would say don’t feel bad about that. When you see people telling you to niche. Don’t feel bad. Take your time, work out the direction that you need to go in as a business. This is not an anti niche message. This is a positive niche message. But it’s to remind you that all of these take time, all of these take life experiences, all of these take opportunities that you potentially do not expect this week, but will hit you next week.
So with that, let’s take a quick look at the comments. And we have the riches are in the niches from young Tristan.
We also have Lee, can you share your feelings during the transition period? Did you have any doubts and worries? Absolutely. So when we decided we were going to remove pharmaceuticals and IT from our core niche offering and from all of the information on our website, we really did start to brick it because pharmaceuticals and it were a third of our overall revenue events were the two thirds, but a third was our revenue from pharmaceuticals and from the industry. And we retained those clients for a little longer because they still knew, like and trusted us and continued to work with us. But we put our core focus in growing the events side and it was really scary. I did see opportunities to work with other pharmaceutical companies and other IT companies and it was tempting to go after those opportunities. So, yes, there was fear, there was doubt. But because we developed a product, we tested it and we’d seen the positivity that those few clients had with that product. We really started to believe in what we were doing and that it was the belief in what we were doing that far outweighed the fear that we had.
Also, for us, we were in a position where we needed to reset our thinking because we’d been doing the same thing over and over again and it wasn’t working. If you listen to episode 281, I talk about managing debt in your agency and I actually share the journey that we were on at the time where we were struggling with debt. We were struggling with managing print. So we were taking on the cost of print for our clients and then waiting for them to pay us at some point what we were left paying suppliers, et cetera and we got into a really difficult position. And it was during that process when it forced us to stick our stake in the ground and say we’ve got to stop diluting our message. We can’t serve three niches really well. We’ve got to go in on the events, go all in, do something different and see different results. And that’s exactly what happened for us.
Robbie says, yeah, if you force a niche, it’s not likely to be the right niche. And that’s so true. I mean, people might look at the math and and say, oh, there’s not many people doing websites for accountants. I’m going to go and do websites for accountants. But that’s not necessarily going to work out for you, especially if you’re not really into accountancy. You don’t really have much experience of it. I mean, I’m terrible at maths for sort of so I’d be terrible doing websites for accountants, I imagine.
So don’t force it. Absolutely. Rowby also says, I’ve been reminded of this recently and I’m still on the journey and. That is absolutely fine. It’s totally cool to be on that journey. In fact, we may not have picked the events industry had it not been for one events company that approached us and off the back of that another and then another and then another. Likewise, I might not have built the entire Agency Trailblazer brand, had I not gone through hell in my old agency back in the early noughties during the recession and made some terrible decisions.
So all of that journey has created something so positive. It’s created a Event Engine, a strong business, it’s created Agency Trailblazer, a strong brand. So it’s fine to be on a journey and it’s fine for it to take time. And finally, we have awesome, great motivation thank you for sharing. Mate, thank you for being a part of this.
Folks, if you are struggling with any debt which was mentioned, please listen to episode 281, and it also references to extra episodes that will support you and your agency finances and in your personal finances. So be sure to check that out. If you are struggling with your niche, let me know in the comments. If you are struggling to reach down, I can share with you some resources to help you refine that niche. But also remember that these things take time and it’s totally cool that you haven’t got there yet. All right. You’re all awesome. Have a wonderful day. And remember, if you can’t be good, be careful.
That wraps up today’s show. Remember, if you want to get access to all of these lives, I’ll be back from paternity leave next week and we will resume with business as normal over on leematthewjackson.com/live where every working day I rock up with a subject and have a conversation with you. Remember, if you are not part of our community, you can check that out over on agencytrailblazer.com/group.
If we don’t see you in the group, if we don’t see you in the lives, then we will see you in next week’s episode.