Note: IABC DC Metro board member Sue O’Hora originally wrote this insightful piece for her LinkedIn newsletter, Video for CommunicatorsSue is a writer, producer and director at Rising Night Productions, a video production company in Washington, DC.


By Sue O’Hora

A few months ago, I stumbled upon an article about “niching down.” There are lots of articles out there on the topic (I’ve linked a couple at the bottom of this post), but the basic gist is that a service provider simply can’t serve everyone. You need to be able to narrow down your target market to the people who are a perfect fit for what you offer. This clarity helps you become more efficient, more effective in your messaging, and ultimately more profitable in your business. Video production skills are incredibly flexible and can be applied to an enormous number of creative challenges, but I’m starting to become a true believer in the idea of “niching down.”

The Value of Knowing Your Audience

At the beginning of every video project, I ask the client to describe their audience. Whenever someone answers “everyone,” I know that we have work to do before we’ll be able to start production. Even if you were making a video about ice cream sundaes, you would need to think about whether your audience is made up of foodies who want information about the lovingly-crafted ingredients that make the very best sundaes or shoppers who might be looking for ways to step up their family’s home sundae game. Just as it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to make a video for “everyone,” it’s very difficult to market your business to everyone.

Defining Your Niche Doesn’t Have to Limit Your Creativity

Video producers and production companies pride themselves on their creative flexibility. I don’t think I speak out of turn when I say that many of us have the skills to create many different kinds of videos well. In reality however, most of us have a type of client or a type of video in which we truly specialize.

It can feel limiting (and a little scary) to focus on one kind of client or project and say that that’s your specialty. But someone hiring a director to make a commercial for a new consumer product isn’t going to be my best client, nor is someone who’s looking to produce a reality show. I’ve had to stop myself from listing all of the kinds of videos I’m capable of making on my website (even if this affects SEO). I came to the realization that that kind of list wasn’t likely to help me win new clients; it was simply going to make it harder for people to recognize my true strengths at a glance. Instead of grabbing a prospective customer’s attention, my site might encourage them to keep looking for someone with a clearer value proposition.

Instead of listing all the kinds of videos I can produce, I started to focus more on the kind of client I like helping the most. My creativity can be put to work making a variety of different kinds of videos for that client, which is one of the very reasons I enjoy working with them so much.

My Niche Explained

I specialize in working with busy communications professionals on short form, informational content. I use the word “informational” because I love content that helps explain processes or procedures, teaches the audience something they might not know, or guides the audience towards a helpful resource or solution. The samples of work on my site help make it clear that a number of styles are well within my wheelhouse.

I also work hard behind the scenes so that my clients don’t have to. I make the video production process easy and stress free, and my extensive network of video professionals allow me to deliver broadcast quality work at affordable prices.

Defining my niche required me to think about the kinds of projects and clients I care the about the most. I want to find interesting, accessible and engaging ways to deliver information people can really use, and I want the communications professionals I work with to feel comfortable taking on video production projects because they know I’ll make their management burden much lighter.

From a marketing perspective, I’m no longer hoping that one of the thousands of people Googling “explainer videos” will find my site and reach out. I’m banking on someone who’s heard of me through word of mouth going to my site and instantly recognizing that I’m the right person help them with their project.

Your Niche as a Filter

Having a well-defined niche gives you a filter through which to evaluate both your marketing efforts and new opportunities. When you’re a solopreneur, prioritizing your time is crucial. Being able to determine what marketing activities are most likely to put you in touch with your ideal customer helps you spend your time more wisely. RFPs can be complicated and take tons of time to respond to thoroughly. Being willing to let ones go that aren’t a great fit is another way to preserve your time for activities that are likely to be more fruitful. 

Your Niche Doesn’t Need to be Fixed in Stone

Clearly defining your niche doesn’t mean giving up on the chance to try new things. By all means, if the opportunity to write, produce and direct a horror short came my way tomorrow, I’d do it in a heartbeat. You might change your niche over time, or build an impressive body of work in another niche that will cause you to reevaluate how you present yourself. It’s natural to evolve over time, but having a defined niche to guide you can actually free up some of your time to work on things that might help you grow as a creative.

I started my business almost two years ago. Even though I had a good idea of the niche on which I wanted to focus, there was still a part of me that feared I might be missing great opportunities by focusing so narrowly on communications professionals. I don’t fear that any longer. I’ve refined my marketing message many times in the past two years (which is a normal part of marketing in general). Now, my message isn’t about all the different kinds of videos I can make, it’s about the kinds of clients I can help the most.


Photo: Silvan Arnet at Upsplash