December 29th 2016

How I Reverse Engineered a Consulting Niche

Finding a niche is much easier said than done.

Figuring out a consulting niche was one of the most frustrating professional experiences in my career. In fact, I was working on it daily and failing, until I thought to reverse engineer it.

The following is the thought process that got me to where I am today in my consulting business. It’s not a step by step to help you find your niche, but hopefully it will spark some ideas and reinforce the concept of reverse engineering. It turns out Tim Ferriss is not playing around.

Quick Background

I founded a website and digital marketing agency 13 years ago, and I’ve run it until recently. I have a design degree, but I also code, manage, strategize, run ads, know social media and am an SEO expert. I have experience in B2B, B2C, global corporations, startups, and family businesses.

When I left my agency, I knew I wanted to work on my own and find a consulting niche. I saw the success of people like Brennan Dunn, Jane Portman and Kurt Elster with productized consulting, so I wanted to productize my own offerings, but doing so turned out to be challenging.

My Goal

To reverse engineer anything, you have to start at the end, and I had a pretty specific goal in mind. I needed to make enough money to support our family, and I needed to spend less time doing it than I was when working full time. My goal was to create an offering I could sell for $1,000, deliver in 1 week, and have time to do 3 - 5 of each week. Having this goal is obviously key to reverse engineering a niche, so if you don’t know your goal, that’s step one.

The Thought Process

Before I thought to reverse engineer, I figured I’d find my niche by asking the market what it needed. I put some feelers out in my networks, and unsurprisingly, the answer was “everything.”

At first I took jobs doing all different things, and each turned into more work, but no two work days were the same, and there weren’t many ways I could create processes or streamline my workflow. This didn’t line up with my goal, and it was clear I needed a product and a niche.

The following is my general thought process to get from “everything” to conversion rate optimization.

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I want to make large amounts of money without spending large amounts of time. Specifically, I need to offer something I can charge $1,000 for and do several of each week. How can I charge a lot of money in a short period of time?

To charge a lot for something, it only needs to create more value than it costs. With a high-value offering, clients won’t question a fast turnaround. So what can I do that shows obvious value?

It’s hard to show tangible value in branding or on brochure websites, and there are too many factors in marketing or SEO to guarantee value. However, it’s easy to show tangible value on ecommerce websites because the website directly generates sales. What can I do for ecommerce businesses to increase sales?

Ads? There are too many factors that affect success with running ads. Improving website conversion rate, however, will almost always make an ecommerce business money. Can I improve conversion rates enough to justify a high consulting rate?

With conversion rate optimization, I can justify charging 1 - 3 months worth of increased revenue, because my client will keep seeing the return after the consulting is over. So I can create a $1,000 productized consulting offer if I can increase a store’s revenue by $300 per month. Is that feasible?

For a business that does $10,000 / month in sales, it’d be easy to find an extra $300 by improving some part of the process. For a business that does $1,000 / month, it might be harder. I’d need a certain level of ecommerce client for this service to make sense. Do businesses on that level need conversion rate optimization? Are they already well optimized?

I looked at the best of the non-Amazon / non-Walmart / normal ecommerce sites. Sites like bestmadeco.com and herschelsupply.com. Could I optimize their processes enough to charge $1,000?

I decided I could, so I tried it.

It turns out, I can optimize almost any product page in some way. It’s been rewarding, because I’m using my knowledge from all different disciplines, but I get to focus my process and product. In other words, I’m not doing things I can offer wholesale or that you’d find in a list article, but I have a templated and streamlined process that applies to all of my clients.

It seems so obvious to me now as a niche and a passion, but just a few months ago, I was offering to do anything tech-related and constantly dealing with scope creep and one-off solutions.

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Would you like to make more money without increasing ad spend? Let’s talk about your product page. I only take a job if I know I can have an impact. Send me your product page URL (email me directly), and I’ll rate your page for free in five key areas: Layout, Imagery, Copy, Design and Upsells.

Ever been frustrated by an online shopping experience? We all have. My goal is to stop that. Tell me about your least favorite ecommerce site or if you want, tell someone else about my offering.

Thanks!