Both Kim Kardashian and Steve Jobs have personal brands. They are both well known.
However, there’s a major difference between the two. Kardashian is famous for being famous. Jobs is famous for creating technology breakthroughs.
Having a personal brand is useful. It helps to be known by others. It opens doors, facilitates introductions, and gets you access to opportunities you might not otherwise get.
However, there are two different ways to become well known.
The first is to do something outrageous (e.g. reality TV, terrorism), to be a spectacle. The second is to be extremely knowledgeable, skilled, or talented in a specific area.
For the typical person, the way to becoming well known follows a simple, repeatable process.
The formula is simple. (Keep in mind, just because something is simple doesn’t always mean it is easy to do. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy.)
1) Pick a niche that is underserved.
2) Devote yourself to becoming an expert in that niche.
3) Serve others to develop your reputation in that niche.
4) Amplify your reputation via media (social media, the web, books, podcasts, conferences, etc.)
Today, let me focus on picking a niche that is underserved.
To understand why this strategy works, it’s useful to borrow concepts from the field of biology.
In large ecosystems of animal and plant life, there’s intense competition for resources — food, water, nutrients, etc.
If a small, relatively new species competes directly against a species that’s dominant and in large numbers, it’s a tough battle — it’s very difficult to thrive under those conditions.
However, if you’re a new species and you occupy a niche in the ecosystem — you feed off of a different set of food resources than the larger dominant species — then you have a chance to thrive in that niche.
The same holds true in large attention economies.
There’s intense competition to get other people’s attention.
If you compete directly against the legend of Steve Jobs, good luck. It’s pretty tough to win that game.
But if you pick a small niche that Jobs (if he were still alive) would never compete in, you have a chance to thrive in your little corner of the world.
That’s the whole point of this article — to strategically pick your little corner of the world to compete in.
In my case, I didn’t pick the “Case Interview” niche — it somewhat picked me. But it has been good to me.
I tell my friends that I’m extremely famous amongst 10 people in the world.
In consulting circles, I appear to be fairly well known.
BUT, consulting is a niche. It is NOT the whole world (and it is VERY easy to forget this point).
For example, socially, none of my friends have ever heard of McKinsey, Bain or BCG. I’m just the guy that likes to hike, cook, sing, dance, camp, and talk about my kids a lot.
It is a very weird feeling when I walk into a room of aspiring consultants and people want to take selfies with me (a very weird feeling). When I’m out socially, people want me to hold their camera phone to take pictures of them, for them.
The contrast is bizarre to me. BUT that’s because I socialize in society at large, but I work professionally within a very narrow niche. Further, 95%+ of the US population have never heard of this niche.
In fact, that’s one test of a niche. If you explain your field, and 10 people out of 10 have heard of it, it’s not a niche. It’s a mass market.
The criteria for picking a niche is that it be underserved. This means the people in the niche want something, but they aren’t getting it.
If your niche is selling golf clubs to left-handed golfers, well left-handed golfers don’t get as much attention as right-handed ones. In fact, 10% of the world’s population is left-handed. If you were a large manufacturer, you would want to focus on right-handers — because there are close to 10 times more of them.
If you want to compete against the big manufacturers, you might consider focusing on the left-handed golfers niche (assuming the big manufacturers underserve them).
If you create an app for helping high school students organize their homework assignments and schedules, all high school students need something like that. But if you create an app that helps high school students with ADHD manage their homework assignments, that’s an underserved niche.
As you look at your career paths in life, give some thought as to the niches you see around you. Notice them. Then look to find niches where the people in their niches desperately want information, products or services but can’t get enough to be satisfied.
Those are niches worth considering. Those are niches where building a personal brand is do-able.
Underserved niches. Give it some thought…
I plan to teach more about this and the other key elements of developing a personal brand. If you’re interested in this topic and would like to be included, complete the form below to be notified of other articles, resources, or classes on this topic.
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