When I got my business going, I was a generalist and did work with a lot of different companies in different industries. I took on every client I could because I had to get the business off the ground.
One day I would be working on ATT, the next day Enterprise Rent – A – Car, and on the third day, the Los Angeles Dodgers. I had to create a new program every time I landed a new client and, when I came up against a competitor that was more of a specialist in that niche market, it made winning the business more challenging. I lost an opportunity with a big prospect that stung. I thought we had a good value proposition but they went with a competitor that had more experience working in that niche market. It was a good old-fashioned bake off and I suffered a good, old-fashioned country ass-whippin’.
So, I decided to make a change. Instead of being a generalist, I would become a specialist. I decided to go narrow and deep in a niche market. Instead of being a little bit to everybody and nothing to anybody, I wanted to be all things to a select few.
I made the decision to specialize and that my niche market would be in wealth management. My strategy changed after that.
- My prospecting focus
- Our website
- Our marketing collateral
- My LinkedIn activity
- I said no to opportunities that were not in my niche market
After I made those changes over time here is what I noticed.
Number one, I am better able to source prospects and develop marketing messages that are customized to the niche. I use that messaging on our website, my LinkedIn Profile, and when sponsoring industry events. In our marketing materials, we are able to brand and credential ourselves to that niche market by providing a list of our current clients and our capabilities.
Number two, I continue to gain more experience with the niche market which increases my knowledge, credibility and expertise. I don’t know everything there is to know about my niche market, but I learn more every day. I have built a reputation as an expert in the field and thought leader in the industry. This helps me to generate more opportunities. Prospects trust my opinion. I have street cred.
Number three, because I understand my niche market, I am able to add more value to my clients as a specialist than if they were to work with a generalist, saving them time and money.
Number four, I am able to differentiate myself and highlight our uniqueness against our competition When I am trying to win an opportunity and I am up against a generalist, I have a distinct advantage.
Finally, it has helped me to maximize referrals and personal introductions in my niche market. As people I work with get promoted or move to another firm, they bring us in.
The downside to this entire approach is saying no to opportunities that are not in your wheelhouse. It was hard to say no the first time but it has become easier over time.
It is hard to grow with a high degree of velocity when you try to be all things to all people. It creates inefficiencies in your business. If you are a generalist, consider evolving into a specialist. Over the long haul it is easier and more profitable to be narrow and deep and all things to a select few. What to do? Decide what your first step will be in becoming a specialist. The time is now.