I used to love the word “niche.” It was so obvious to me that if you wanted to succeed with limited resources, you needed to find a sector of the market with few competitors. You needed to find a unique topic that you could be better than anybody else at. That way, you would be fighting a downhill battle.
Over time, I’ve learned that that’s not quite the case. It’s not exactly wrong, but it’s more of a “meh, yes and no” kind of thing.
The real issue is that the word “niche” can put us in the wrong frame of mind. It takes a good idea and pushes it to the extreme.
Worse, it puts the focus in the wrong place.
Why “Unique Selling Proposition” is Better than “Niche”
Alright. “Unique selling proposition” is a bit of a mouthful, and even “USP” takes longer to say than “niche.” But “niche” emphasizes the wrong thing.
When you think “niche,” you think about:
- A specific subject matter
- A specific corner of the web
- A specific group of influencers
And those are too limiting. When you think “USP,” you think about:
- A specific problem that people need solved
- A specific mindset or subculture that would motivate people to solve the problem your way
- A specific set of values
You might think that the word “niche” isn’t interfering with your ability to keep those things in mind, and might be right, to some extent.
But I’m willing to bet it’s having at least some influence on the way you approach building linkable assets and performing outreach.
Most “Niche” Content isn’t Very Useful
It’s true though. A niche is, by definition, a limited subject. There’s only so much you can say about it. On occasion, maybe you’ll actually be able to say something entirely new about the subject. When you do, you’ll be able to get some attention.
But, usually, most of what you say has been said before in that niche. Sure, you can repackage it, recombine it, give it a different flavor, infuse it with a different emotion, and make it more fun to consume. Still, at the end of the day, what you’re saying isn’t new.
It’s Dumb to Pitch to Your Niche
The argument that “everything’s been done before” isn’t entirely off base. It’s okay to say things that have been said before, as long as you’re saying it in a new and interesting way, or combining it with other ideas to form intriguing connections.
The issue, though, is that if all of the ideas are coming from your niche, and then you’re pitching those ideas to your niche, you’re not going to get a whole lot of traction.
It’s easy to see why, too. You’re saying the same thing to the same people.
This is making your outreach very hard, and much harder than it needs to be. You are reaching out to experts who know almost everything there is to know about your niche. You are trying to convince them to take a look at a piece of content that probably doesn’t say anything they don’t already know. Something that is probably going to make them bored, and roll their eyes.
Granted, if you truly have something new to say in your niche, that’s different. But, again, that’s hard to do.
Why USP Content is More Useful than Niche Content
When you start thinking about your USP instead of your niche, you stop thinking about what subject you need to be writing about, and you start thinking about what audience you are writing for.
This audience doesn’t need to be united by a common interest in a specific subject. They only need to be united by a common type of problem, a common mindset, a common set of values, or some mixture of those three elements.
This gives you the freedom to explore a wide variety of subjects. With a virtually unlimited body of knowledge to work with, you’re free to find information that will actually surprise and delight your audience.
You won’t bore them by saying the same thing as all the other people in your niche, because you will have no niche.
Think about it. Shopify doesn’t promote their cloud-based POS software by writing a bunch of blog posts about cloud-based POS software. They blog about absolutely anything that is helpful for an ecommerce business owner. That’s not a “niche,” because it includes marketing, distribution, software, hardware, production, manufacturing, inventory, and on and on.
When you focus on a USP, your content is almost always also going to be more useful, creative, and novel than anything from a specific niche. New ideas almost always originate when you combine two or more ideas to arrive at something completely novel. There’s only so many ideas to combine within a niche. There’s an unlimited number of ideas to combine when your focusing on a USP.
Why a USP Makes Outreach Ten Times Easier
When you focus on a niche during outreach, you limit yourself to contacting experts on a specific subject, making it very difficult to reach out to them with anything useful that they don’t already know.
When you focus on a USP during outreach, you open yourself up to a much wider body of influencers.
Put another way, when you focus on niche, you end up contacting influencers who are probably your competitors. When you focus on your USP, you contact influencers who could become your customers.
Needless to say, it’s much easier to surprise and delight influencers who resemble your customers, as opposed to your competitors. It’s also not at all damaging for them to mention you on their site.
Stop looking for subject matter experts, and start looking for people who would actually find your content personally useful. There are far more influencers who will find your content useful than there are influencers in any specific niche.
All it takes is changing your mindset.
It’s that easy.