How many times do you need to hit yourself in the head with a hammer before you get the lesson?
Over the years, it took me several times … and several different hammers … to identify my niche market (“sweet spot”) and stick with it.
One nasty hammer was a landlord/tenant matter that my then-law partner and I took on. The client owned a building and was trying to rid it of non-paying tenants. So if owning a building was his business, that made him a small business owner, right?
Certainly not the kind of small business owner who was in our sweet spot.
We didn’t know the Landlord/Tenant Court rules. We didn’t know the building regulations. We had to spend hours and hours of extra time (which we couldn’t charge for) trying to get up to speed. Every step we took got us deeper into quicksand.
Ultimately, we got the result the client wanted, but that didn’t make it a success. The client was upset with the lengthy delays. We were upset with the thoroughly-eroded profit margin. Lesson learned.
By focusing on your business sweet spot, you complete jobs faster. Quality is higher. Costs are lower. Customers are happier. Risks decrease. Profits increase.
I understand that the economy can be challenging. The siren call of dollar signs can make you lose sight of the long-term costs of taking on clients you don’t serve optimally. Rather than see it as limiting your options, envision it as providing “exclusive” service to a particular market.
Create your ideal client profile: Consider marketing-related demographics, like age, income, employment status, and gender. But also include subjective assessments such as personality type, communication style, and organizational skills, to identify customers you can work with well.
Fine tune your message: Reassess the way you communicate and the words you use. Use your client’s language. As the old advertising maxim goes: “Customers don’t want a ¼-inch drill. They want to make a ¼-inch hole.” Speak to the pain your client is having and how your business solves it.
Stay disciplined. There will always be temptations to expand your niche area. Ignore them … until you have a finely-tuned process to serve your first niche. Otherwise, you’ll be all over the place with your offerings. Paradoxically, the wider you cast your net, the more diluted your message will be … and the fewer “fish” you’ll attract. Instead, remain in your sweet spot doing what you do best.
When you become known as the “go-to” company for __________________ [fill in your niche], you’ll find ever-greater success. And that leads to the Holy Grail of profitable repeat clients.
TIP: If 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients, you don’t need to increase sales to the other 80% of your customers. You need to find more customers like those 20%.
If you want to know which clients are really ringing the register for you, we have a program for that. Click here to find out more.