The Fear of Putting Yourself in a Box (being Pigeon-holed!)

by Melanie Boylan
Business Mindset
Social Media How To’s and Top Tips

Is it better to niche or not to niche? In this blog post I discuss how to understand the customer journey and their expectations!

This blog came about from a conversation that I had with a class of attendees on an online Offaly Local Development Company Programme. We were talking about building awareness of your business and that it's best to keep sharing on an ongoing basis throughout the year. I suggested that if you could niche down it would help your audience better understand what you do and from there you would build a stronger authority. That's when Vivienne of Your Life Matters asked what about putting your business into a box or pigeonhole.

So what do I mean by pigeonhole?




past tense: pigeon-holed; past participle: pigeon-holed

  1. 1.
  2. assign to a particular category, typically an overly restrictive one.
  3. "I was pigeonholed as a ‘youth writer’"
  4. Similar:
  5. categorize
  6. compartmentalize
  7. classify
  8. characterize
  9. label
  10. brand

By only pushing one aspect of what you can do, I can see why it would be perceived as an issue, but there is a way that it can help you too. I agree, it's not a desired outcome for many businesses. One thing I have noticed since 2013 though, as I haven't personally niched down is at times I have left people unsure of what I DO offer.

Only this week I received an email from a company who really thought I created hardware rather than worked in the Social Media and Digital Marketing Training field. I'm not entirely sure why they thought that, as I have previously delivered Social Media and Business Training before but as my message is rather large, its a risk I have had to overcome over the years and decided to take.

I haven't niched down because I enjoy the variety of work I do, including my Journalism work and Freelance Blogging. I have numerous revenue streams in that respect. If however you only have the one then you might find this blog useful.

Why should I niche my business?

By developing a niche for your business you really do get the opportunity to hone your skills and understand your audience so much better. You gain a stronger insight or their pain points, the language they use and also where to find them.

Not only that but you also become an authority faster as well. You're seen as the go-to and leader of your niche. It's easier to build upon a brand already recognised in the industry, one that's already gotten great feedback, kudos and recognition.

You can then make your business leaner, strip away stock and staff and make your business more profitable as well. I personally wholeheartedly believe that you can offer too much and do all of it poorly, so why not consider looking at the one or two areas (initially)and making it your best?

Now to play devils advocate...

Why you shouldn't niche down?

Actually I still think you should BUT I think it's much easier to offer more at the beginning of your business and then see what takes off. When I started my business in 2013, I offered not just Social Media training, I offered Press Release Creation and Marketing Strategies too. My business was initially called STOMP Marketing and PR. By month 16 of my business it became obvious that I was getting more work in one area than all three so I niched down to just Social Media.

There is no telling what's going to stick when you first start, you can always guess, maybe offer more to attract more attention and gain a better insight on what's selling and what's not and add products and services later and adapt.


In my opinion it's better to be seen that you're able to offer more than your customer expected. So by getting your customer in the first place with your niche and then offering more is better than getting the sale and offering them less than what they expected.

Very much your choice what you do, just make sure you are targeting the right audience and manage their expectations from the get-go. If you need help with any of this, then please do not hesitate to contact me.

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