Shrink the Pond: Stand Out in a Swarming Market by Finding Your Niche

Posted on Apr 17 2018 - 1:11pm by Housecall

By Tom McMakin

On her way home, Lisa Jordan complained to her husband, "I can't believe they listed their house with Betsy; I've known them for years." Seasoned real estate professionals know not to take such slights personally—it's all part of the business. While people's choice of an agent might be something none of us can fully understand, we can increase the odds that a potential client becomes an actual MLS entry by niching our business.

In order for clients to list with you, not only do they have to be aware you exist, but also they have to think of you as their best choice in a sea of alternatives; however, in a world where you might have 1,000 direct competitors within a 25-mile radius, that can be difficult. The question is: How do you stand out?

Successful REALTORS® niche what they do, and they're able to articulate what they do, who they serve and how they're unique in a short, pithy sentence—their elevator pitch. Do this well and potential clients will remember you later when they need what you offer or when someone asks them for a recommendation.

The foundation on which niches are built are a handful of meta-categories we carry around with us all the time, like an organizer into which we file the hundreds of businesses we run across every day. These meta-categories are "first," "best" and "biggest":

  • What is the biggest cola company? Coca-Cola.
    • What is the fifth-biggest cola company? Don't know.
  • Who was the first president? George Washington.
    • Who was the 21st president? Don't know.
  • What is the best online retailer of shoes? Zappos.
    • What is the ninth-best online shoe retailer in the U.S.? Don't know.

We know Coca-Cola's name because it lives in a room—a room labeled "the largest." Recall the room and Coca-Cola's name floats to the surface of our mind's vast pond.

To successfully niche your business, decide what you are good at and then define it by geography, company size or another quantifier. Then, practice a succinct pitch in which you can truthfully say:

  • I am the largest seller of condos in Santa Fe.
  • I was the first REALTOR® to partner with affordable housing developers in North Carolina.
  • HomeLight rates me as the most effective REALTOR® in Portland.

Want to be remembered? Find a category where you can be No. 1 in some way—or in other words, shrink the pond. Better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in an endless ocean of near competitors.

mcmakinTom McMakin is the author of "How Clients Buy" (Wiley, 2017) and the CEO of PIE, a marketing services firm focused on the professional services industry. He can be reached at

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