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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   February 2015

Shine a Light on Your Niche

Focusing on narrow market segments can help you weather industry changes

Shine a Light on Your Niche

As you venture farther into the new year, you may want to shine a light on your life, your career and the mortgage industry at large. The industry has changed in the past few years, and yet in many ways it remains the same. Perhaps it’s time to think about how you work within it as well.

In the mortgage industry, programs, companies and regulations all change, but building relationships, developing referral business and marketing to niche segments are timeless concerns. They are your path through the dark days of change. Now is the time to take a long, hard look at finding a new niche that can sustain your career through uncertain times in the market.

What is a niche? It is that unique “something” that sets you apart from others. It is the intricate asset that you possess of knowing a specific product, service or segment in depth. Every broker has a niche; some just need to find it. For example, some niche markets in the mortgage industry might include:

  • Home types: Luxury homes, second homes, investment properties, etc.
  • Groups: Veterans, first-time homebuyers, professionals, single parents, etc.
  • Identifiers: Baby boomers, Gen Xers, seniors, millennials, etc.
  • Products: Reverse mortgages, refinances, purchases, etc.
  • Programs: Restoration America, Making Home Affordable, etc.

The list goes on and on. You can choose a single niche or a combination to create your own unique hybrid. Consider, for instance, the reverse-to-purchase model. This is one example of combined niches working together to create a brand new niche. In this case, it may be someone else’s niche to market reverse mortgages for increasing monthly wealth or for traveling and completing bucket lists, but your niche could be using reverse mortgages as a path to purchasing new homes.

Susan Friedmann, author of Riches in Niches: How to Make It Big in a Small Market, noted that becoming well-known in your niche is the way to go for several reasons, including:

  • People pay more for services from perceived experts.
  • Credibility occurs when you’re visible in your niche.
  • Marketing targeted at niches is comparatively easy and cheap.
  • Learn your niche

Whatever niche you choose, you must do your due diligence to learn all you can about that niche. Research, read and talk to other experts to determine what you must know to become an expert in that area. Keyfactors to know are the jargon, current topics and hot-button issues of your niche. You must know how to speak as an expert in your chosen arena, and you must be able to deliver on any of the benefits you offer.

If you don't genuinely care about your niche and your clients,
people will see through you in a second.

Social media helps in this respect. You can join online focus groups geared toward your niche and learn from other key people. Start by posting questions before moving on to giving answers. This is a great way to hone your skills as an expert with a safety net, because answering questions within a group is far less risky than doing it one-on-one with a client. The expertise of the group will help if you are totally off-base with your answers, because others will respond with correct solutions.

Don’t shy away from group banter, either. These are open forums where people can agree and disagree, and where you can learn and formulate new ideas from other people. Just make sure that you know when an answer is opinion or fact. Take note of facts, but review opinions. Does the opinion-maker have a valid point — something to be conscious about — or is that person someone who simply likes to find fault?

Once you start to become the expert, you begin to create an aura of mystique and knowledge around your posts. This is even easier with all of today’s social media and networking channels. You can broadcast an announcement on LinkedIn that you recently declared your specialty or were awarded a new title. Don’t lie, however; you can market yourself, certainly, but never fib about your knowledge.

Likewise, don’t expand your niche to include new areas or additional products until you have mastered your initial area. Maintain a laser focus on your prime niche area at first, only expanding in small increments over time.

Market your niche

Once you become an expert, you’ll want to share that information and market yourself as “the expert” in that niche. Create a campaign that uses your information, knowledge and education to advertise your strengths. Reach out to your community and offer to give free talks about the niche. Organizations like libraries, churches, schools and chambers of commerce are always looking for guest speakers. Offer your services.

Key points

10 steps to starting a niche

  1. Choose an area of expertise.
  2. Learn about your niche area.
  3. Share your product knowledge.
  4. Write about your niche.
  5. Hold informational seminars.
  6. Be available to answer questions
  7. Originate niche loans.
  8. Close niche loans.
  9. Thank your clients.
  10. Ask for referrals.

You also can start writing about your niche. Create some informative flyers and brochures about your corner of the market. Make these materials noteworthy and always think about why others would want to know this information. Write an article for a local newspaper, church bulletin or association newsletter. There are many opportunities to showcase your knowledge; just be sure that it’s informative.

If you can’t find a place to publish articles, write a blog to educate and communicate your ideas to your market. Share your expertise and demonstrate market tools that you have available, along with their benefits. Make your blog interactive by asking for questions, testimonials and shared stories. Most important, keep your blog current.

Always be sincere and remember that no one likes a know-it-all or self-promoter. If you don’t genuinely care about your niche and your clients, people will see through you in a second. You can change or alter your niche if needed as time goes on, but it takes a while to create one, so don’t give up too quickly.

•  •  •

With the beginning of a new year, now is the time to take inventory of what knowledge you may already possess and how you can turn that innate information into a niche for yourself. If you are brand new to the business, you can still choose an area of the market in which to focus. Simply find some area that interests you and then spend the time studying, learning and pursuing expert status in that niche.

And remember: You create your own niche. You get to be the expert. You can be the big fish in the small pond of your own specialty. 


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