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Guest post by Mark Augustyn, Senior Vice President, Mercantile Bank, Grand Rapids, MI

How do you decide which niches to target? This is an area I am passionate about.  Here is what I tell my team::

  1. Make sure it is an area the bank is supportive of.  No sense carving a niche up Mt. Everest.

  2. Ensure it is deep enough to invest in.  Sole proprietor fishing guides is not a niche in our market.

  3. Don’t pick something that is being swarmed over already within the bank and the market – we don’t need any more “me too’s.”

  4. You have to have a real passion and interest in the niche.

  5. Look to serve first by providing value at every turn.

If your niche meets these 5 criteria and you put your heart and soul into educating, serving, networking, branding and investing in that space you will do just fine.

If you go through the steps above and a space doesn’t present itself, try to figure out what you like best about your job.  For me it was the creativity of complex opportunities.  So what opportunities offer complexity and benefit from creativity?  In my world that led me to development lending and M&A work.  Those became my niches because they drew out my best.

Want more tips on developing niches? Check out these articles:

Prospecting Tips for Bankers on Developing a Niche

25 Questions to Assess Your Prospecting Process

Q&A for Bankers on Targeting the Health Care Niche