I love Chinese people. But in Silicon Valley, there is a funny phrase called “Chinese Math,” a derogatory term for clueless first-time entrepreneurs who estimate their market size by using examples like this:
I’m going to sell custom handbags to women in China.
There are about 1 billion people in China, so 500 million women. Let’s say 250 million adult women.
If I can sell to just 1% of them, that’s 2,500,000.
And if I can make $30 per bag, that’s $75 million.
I’m going to be rich!
Yeah…it doesn’t work that way.
This approach sucks because any message watered down enough to fit a market that large will be so generic that no one will listen.
Big corporations make the same mistake all the time. They throw millions of dollars into a product they’re convinced everyone will want. Then they stand there slack-jawed when no one wants it.
Counterintuitively, for most products and services, the more specific you are, the more sales you can make.
For example, think about personal trainers. Who’s going have more success?
- The trainer who promises everyone and anyone that working out will make them feel better
- The trainer who promises 20-something men they’ll double the size of their biceps in four months
That’s the paradox of niching down your offering. The more specific your niche, the easier it is to sell and the more you can charge. This is an extremely complex area, but that’s a simple example.
Today’s case study is a perfect example of this.
Paige was a pilates instructor struggling to offer her services to everyone interested in pilates. As soon as she narrowed her focus to helping people with back pain, her business exploded.
Read on to learn how Paige:
- Finally admitted that her target market was too broad
- Tested different niches without spending a penny
- Nearly doubled her number of clients by niching down her offer
“After day 1, I knew I didn’t want a refund.”
One year ago, Paige made the leap to start working for herself.
After making $25 – $35 an hour for two and a half years as a pilates instructor at someone else’s studio, she opened her own studio in her garage. No commute, higher rates, more flexibility…and the responsibility of finding her own clients.
She quickly discovered there’s more to being a successful pilates instructor than the actual pilates.
“Before I took Earn1K,” Paige said, “I was charging $75 an hour, but I always got talked down and made excuses for why I didn’t deserve the money. I was instructing 20-25 hours a week and trying to build my business. My husband and I were working all the time. We needed to make a change.”
Paige had lots of ideas for building her business, but she didn’t know where to start. After reading the blog, she decided the best starting place was Earn1K.
“You doesn’t regurgitate the stuff everyone else is saying. Your stuff is on a different level. After day 1, I knew I didn’t want a refund.”
“It was all about getting into her head.”
Paige’s turnaround was spurred on by one particular client.
“This lady was an old client I had lost contact with. She wanted to resume her pilates but was really busy and asked if I could do the mat work at her office. Pilates has two types of workouts: mat workouts and equipment workouts.”
Eager for more work, Paige agreed to a talked down rate of $45 an hour. It wasn’t until she hung up that she realized that the drive time would eat into her profit and that just doing mat exercises would limit her client’s results.
Frustrated, Paige sucked it up and did her best. As expected, the results were less than ideal. “I kept telling her ‘you need to do this, do that.’ I wasn’t listening to her. Kind of selfish. I was so focused on my earnings and what I wanted.”
That’s when Paige watched a 37-minute Earn1K video on defining her target market, then an 11-minute bonus video on Why Benefits Sell. She realized that hadn’t taken the time to truly get into her clients’ head. She knew how pilates could help her client, but she had no idea what it meant for her client or how to convince her to give it a try.
“I started listening to her. She would say things like ‘My posture is so bad. I look horrible and fat and I don’t understand why I can’t get my back up. I have this great dress and I look bad in it.’ That’s when I explained how she’ll look lighter with a stronger back because she’ll be stretched out. That will make her feel better about herself. And I explained how I was doing my best with the mat exercises, but that I could help her more with the equipment. With the springs and straps we could put more strength in her back.”
Paige’s client agreed to try an extra session in Paige’s garage for a few weeks (at $75 an hour). It only took a few sessions before people started telling the client she looked better.
That quick success hooked her. The client quickly dropped her in office mat workouts for three sessions a week in Paige’s studio.
“It wasn’t about the work,” Paige remarked. “It was about all getting into her head.”
Testing her niche
By really listening to her clients, Paige realized that many of them worked with her to fix a lingering back injury. In fact, that niche benefit brought Paige to pilates in the first place. She wondered if focusing on clients with back injuries could help her business.
“Before Earn1K, when someone asked what I do, I’d say ‘I’m a pilates instructor’ and the conversation would fizzle out. Then I started testing niches. Very simple. When someone would ask me what I do, I’d say ‘I’m a pilates instructor working with clients with back injuries.’”
Paige used the test at parties, with people at the grocery store, all over the place. She noticed a spike in interest immediately. “Everyone responded. Just adding that line opened up whole dialogues and got me a lot of referrals.
Solely by word of mouth, Paige’s business nearly doubled. She went from instructing 20-25 hours a week to 30-40 hours. She also discovered that niching down her business helped her stick with her $75 an hour rate.
“Now I just say my rate and they pay. I also helped mitigate risk for new clients by offering an intro package. Five lessons for $250. By the time they’re done with it, they’re ready to keep going and happy to pay the regular rate. I’ve only had one client not stay after the intro.”
Without a website or any marketing campaigns, Paige’s business has nearly maxed out.
“Creating my offer was easy once I identified my most catchy benefits.”
For Paige, the hardest part was learning how to really get into her customers’ heads. With a thriving practice and strong word of mouth built on a niche benefit, Paige is now looking to take her business to the next level.
“I really want to talk to people about the back pain issue. Most pilates websites are bad. They don’t really help people with back pain who are looking for a solution to their pain.”
Instead of building a website that’s a business card no one looks at, Paige is channeling her success and expertise into a platform she hopes will help even more people with back pain. For her, niching down hasn’t just meant more business. It also means more opportunities to give.
Total earned using Earn1K: $3,450
Hourly rate: Starting rate ($45/hour) and current rate ($75/hour)
What you would be doing without Earn1K: “Nothing. I was so frustrated and overwhelmed figuring out and implementing ‘everything’ that needed to be done for my business. I would exhaust myself mentally all day on things I ‘could’ do that when it came time to implement ideas I would chuck the whole project because I didn’t know where to start and I felt so defeated.”