Last week, sitting in a pub with a business colleague, I had an interesting discussion about when business gets to the point of being too busy. There are several strategies on how to deal with this problem. Yes, I said problem and a nice one to have. Demand is a challenge for most businesses especially excess demand. Not satisfying the demand can kill a business and its reputation. We all hope our ventures get to a point where we have to decide on the best structure to deal with being spread too thin. One strategy is to bring in partners and/or employees to handle the demand. Another, the subject of our discussion, is to narrow your focus and right size your client base.
One of the primary concerns when narrowing your focus and client base is relying on organic referrals alone may not be enough to grow your future firm as much as you’d like. Trying to get new business from traditional marketing techniques can also be ineffective. We’re all exposed to marketing messages every day, making it hard to stand out from the masses. How, then, can you achieve specific, measurable results from your marketing activities? As I said, it may help to focus on one specific subset of individuals you’d like to work with. By narrowing your message to this niche audience, you can position yourself as the expert for that group and develop a name as the preferred provider for them. Hey pp
In my profession, 70 percent of top financial advisors focus on a niche. Statistics for other professionals are comparable. In our case, professionals who focus on a specific niche are specialists with expertise in solving problems for a very select group of people with similar needs. Here's what I want you to take away from this data: Specialization can make you more attractive than those offering general services to a broader audience.
“If everybody is doing it one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction.” Sam Walton
To begin developing a specialized marketing plan, you first need to determine your target market and create an extensive profile of this audience. This process will help guide your strategic planning and marketing efforts, plus uncover critical hot buttons and marketing opportunities.
Once you've identified the hot-button issues facing your target market, you'll want to tailor your message to help address those issues. When you do this, you're likely to find that your message becomes more persuasive to those who fit that profile.
So, how can you tailor your message? One example is to package it in a format preferred by corporate executives: a simple resume. Knowing that these clients evaluate potential employees via a resume, you can use this traditional format to highlight his own experience. Of course, different methods work better for different markets.
“You gotta keep trying to find your niche and trying to fit into whatever slot that's left for you or to make one of your own.” Dolly Parton
A niche strategy allows you to communicate your marketing message to your ideal prospects repetitively over a longer period because the audience is smaller and more targeted. The more frequently your niche audience hears about you in a meaningful way, the more awareness you generate about your brand. One way to do this is by interacting regularly with your target market, as illustrated in the following example.
Say your target market is women who are experiencing a transition in life. Such is the case for a peer of mine. She participates in a women's golf league and has made many friends within the group. Although it's a social activity, joining the league opened opportunities to interact with the group on a business level as well.
She holds educational meetings for league members and sponsors summer golf events. It will be easy for her to spread her message to a network in which she has already built solid personal relationships. By pursuing these types of targeted activities, she can gain greater traction than through marketing initiatives geared to a broad audience with whom she has no previous connection.
When you specialize in the specific needs of your audience, you become known as the go-to expert for that area of specialization. Over time, word of mouth can help build your reputation as a trusted resource - perhaps the trusted resource. One tactic that can be used to build credibility as a subject-matter expert is to write a white paper tackling a technical issue faced by your target audience. Another peer works with social media and has written multiple white papers about the challenges and opportunities that businesses face. He has built a reputation as a credible resource and thought leader.
“Very narrow areas of expertise can be very productive. Develop your own profile. Develop your own niche.” Leigh Steinberg
Another great way to enhance your reputation through word of mouth is by focusing on a particular group in your area. A colleague has successfully built credibility and trust within the local start-up community. He cultivates centres of influence within the community and hosts numerous social events. He even attends many of the community networking and social functions.
Focusing on specific prospects and clients has many potential benefits for your business. You can streamline your services and manage revenue. You'll also can develop a product and service mix specifically for your target audience, plus build scalable business models and generate higher profitability. Last but certainly not least, narrowing your focus will give you the opportunity to offer the high-touch, high-value services that many clients and prospects are looking for.
Narrow your marketing activities to a niche audience is not an easy step to take and requires a lot of consideration, due diligence, and planning. It is also not for everyone. You have to be an expert in your niche, know it implicitly, and have the self-confidence to demonstrate this to prospects and clients. People with a specialization are usually in high demand and are quite successful in Keeping Life Current.
Steve is the SBCN Community Mentor and can be reached at steve@NorthernRiverFinancial.ca