Become a meaningful specific as opposed to a wandering generality!
In the professional service industry, standing out from the crowd is vitally important. Most services are already available in one form or another, none of them are vastly unique. If you take the coaching industry for example, in the boom times, every second person and their dog was a life coach, thanks to the recession a lot of wannabee coaches are leaving the industry and those that truly mean business are still around.
The difference between working hard and working smart in the service industry is making sure people know what you are offering and who you are aiming at. We at our office recently looked at the services of B/Right Business Coaching and found in our niche audit that we were not specific enough and offering confusing services to a wide base of businesses. Hence our splitting the offering into 3 key areas and this one specifically targeted at start-up service businesses.
How did we make that decision? Well, our client base was already mainly service companies from one-man working from home type businesses to well established multi generation professional service companies. We have built our expertise in this area and have a great track record with start-ups, where we actually beat the statistics of companies making profit in their first 12 to 18 months as well as still being around and thriving after 3 years. So, when it comes to start-ups we know what they need, all we ask of our customers is that they are teachable and implement the suggestions in their companies.
If you are brand new to your service, you have the ideal postion of choice. You can choose who you enjoy working with, what kind of people you want to do business with and the kind of attributes they come with. The sooner you become very specific about your target market, the easier it is for people to buy from you and refer to you. The funny thing about being specific and putting your name to a particular type of work, means that you have an opportunity to have a good profit margin.
The challenge when I give workshops on marketing for professional services, is that business owners are afraid to be specific about their target market and their service, because they feel they might be losing out on other business if they go narrow and specific. In actual fact the wider and more general you remain, the more difficult it is to make money. Crazy fact!
So I guess, if you prefer to make less money, by all means stay general, but the risk of being very specific is that people recognise you for you do and cna refer business to you and you have the door wide open for profit. Funny enough, by being very specific, the other ‘general’ queries still come in and you can choose to take them on or not.
We sell on 3 key points: productivity and focus for high achievers through B/Right Focus Coaching, work/life balance and time-management hrough B/Right work life balance and start-up advice for professional service companies through this site B/Right start-ups. The commonality is that each service involves business coaching and is targeted at the professional services industry, but each have very distinctive needs and demands, hence a niche is available. We had this challenge of making 3 niches, because we decided to become more specific after a number of years in business.
How do you select your niche? First of all look at the various areas of experience you come with, your CV is a good starting point, even if it is an ecclectic mix of odd jobs, there may well be themes and generic trends that are unique to you. You can draw on personal experiences, because if you have personally experienced how to turn particular situations around for the better and you have designed a service around this, it may well work. Basically you are looking for a hook or angle to promote your service to a target market that is identifiable. Take start-ups for example, they are identifiable they tend to go to start your own business events, they can be found in enterprise competitions, they hang out in incubator centres, which is quite specific. Business coaching potential clients however as a target group is wide, varied and very non-specific, so also very hard to find or refer on to you.
The starting point is your own life and business experience and then you bring in the types of people you would like to sell to. I chose professional services, because it’s an industry I have pretty much always worked in from my management consulting days up to now. If your background is in retail, music, sports, etc. there may well be a potential niche angle of people you would like to work with and understand. Narrow it down to their attributes, which are things like teachability, having budgets, innovative, etc. The more specific you are, the easier it becomes to find these individuals.
Once you know your specific service and your specific target market, then it is a case of going out to find them in big numbers, which if you managed to define previous part in great detail, then they should be easy to find. Next step then is to go and spend time with them and truly understand their behaviours.
The real message here is to pick a niche that you know you will enjoy, identify the kinds of people you want as your clients and then go make your mark in this corner of the market. One of my mentors came up with a saying ‘A niche will make you riche’ (imagine a french accent at the end) . Become a meaningful specific in order to be profitable in your service business.