If you feel like you need to please everyone all the time, allow one of the world’s top business experts to set you free. Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter says that someone will always be disappointed.
To find your niche, you simply have to decide who to disappoint.
As he says, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
In other words, you’ve got to niche down. If you don’t, you’ll try to appeal to everyone, take on every bit of business, run yourself ragged, dilute your brand, and wonder why you’re working so hard and seeing so little payoff.
How to choose your real estate niche
As Seth Godin says in his minimum viable audience idea, “When you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone.”
You can niche down by slicing in any dimension. You can choose location: “I only do Tribeca!” or type of home: “prewar co-ops!” or type of clients: “I serve single middle-aged men looking for masters of the universe, luxury apartments”.
If you choose the single men looking for flashy homes, you’re going to disappoint the families. And here’s the important thing — that’s ok.
It’s a leap of faith to niche down. Paradoxically, letting business go is the best way to get even more business.
How I chose my real estate niche
The way I found my smallest viable audience didn’t have anything to do with location. Sure, I tend to sell in Tribeca and Uptown. And yes, I generally serve those with a luxury price point. But here’s how I define my niche: I focus on clients with whom I have the deepest relationships.
It’s not that the remaining clients are easy to please. They’re just the people who entrust me as their advisor. They offer the best chance of long-term connections and profitable business.
As an advisor, the partnership is level-set. They understand my guidance is derived from over a decade of experience and knowledge. So these people aren’t going to ask me to renegotiate a deal. They’re going to be true to their word. They’re going to follow-through on their commitments…and they trust me to do the same.
I didn’t know this when I started in real estate, but experts have studied the effects of trust on business. You can measure it. As it turns out, the higher the trust, the more quickly and efficiently you can get work done.
Of course, if someone entrusts me, they won’t ask me to spend an hour convincing them that my advice is sound. They won’t waste my time putting in offers on multiple apartments and then ghost me the next day when someone accepts their bid. It’s a partnership where we instill confidence in one another. New York real estate is never easy, but trust makes everything smoother and profitable.
Want to specialize in trust? Learn how to earn it.
Stephen M.R. Covey explains the essential four factors contributing to trust in his book, The Speed of Trust.
This means being honest and talking directly to people. Own the bad news you have to deliver and don’t mince words. Be willing to have hard conversations and follow through on the promises you make during them.
Of course, we all want to make a good living, but you should care as much or more about your clients. If people sense you’re only out for yourself, if they feel like just a possible sale to you, they’re not going to trust you.
You can be the most honest, well-intentioned person in the world, but if you don’t have the knowledge to get the job done, you’ll never gain the trust of your clients. As a real estate broker, you are the expert. It’s a reminder to keep learning, always.
With every sale, you can celebrate that you’re adding to the bank of trust in which you can withdraw from in the future.
You can combine your niches, such as the people you trust and are looking in the Tribeca area. But I recommend making trust non-negotiable. Everyone else will have to be disappointed.
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