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Think Thin & Win: You’re the Expert

Clients hire the expert. Period. In any economy. So be the expert and start proclaiming.

Clients hire you because they know you deliver what you promise with a positive impact on their business results. They hire you because you make them look good, and they want to keep their jobs.

They hire your company for its expertise—either in their industry or on a specific topic—such as sales, customer service, productivity, business process improvement, leadership, information technology, etc. You get the picture.

You need a niche—a narrow niche.

Know Your People

What makes you the expert? What do you love about your favorite clients that makes them your favorite? Take George, for example: Insurance agent, George, focuses exclusively on engineers. He loves engineers, because he understands their thought process. George studied engineering in school, and he loves working numbers. He knows exactly how to communicate with engineers. (While this might drive some of us crazy, George is in his element.)

In fact, people in the engineering community know each other: The person who bought George’s first policy offered to refer him to other engineers. He told his friends they had to talk to George, because George “understood” him. George quickly expanded his business because the engineers viewed George as someone who explained the complexities of insurance in a concrete, systematic manner. George became known as the sales expert and the “go-to person” for engineers.

One of our family friends is a financial advisor and has made a great income by focusing exclusively on teachers. He brings 20 years of experience to his job and earned the trust and recommendations of teachers—who continually refer him to other educators. He hasn’t missed a sales award trip in more than 20 years.

How to Develop Your Niche

So where do you locate your niche clients? Ask yourself: What expertise do I contribute? How do my hobbies relate to my niche? What types of clients are my favorites? Most importantly, what kind of business do I love the most? Connect with your passion, and you’ve found your niche. Your excitement and authenticity show through in every sales interaction, and sales prospects will buy from you.

You don’t need or want just “any” business, you want the business that excites you and enables you to deliver solutions that actually help people. A well-defined niche is specific. Otherwise, you don’t have a niche, you have a pastime. As an example, insurance agents and realtors tell me that they love working with young couples buying their first home and starting a family. When they work this niche, they become known as the expert and earn the right to ask for referrals—which they readily receive.

Think about your background and your interests and determine how you parlay those into new relationships, new niches, and new business for yourself. When you establish a common interest, you connect immediately. The faster you dip into your connections and interests, the faster your niche client group accepts you.

For great information on niches, check out Susan Friedmann and her book Riches in Niches: How to Make It BIG in a Small Market, Friedmann explores the multiple factors that separate the “experts” from the service professionals who may have identical–if not better–skills, but whom no one has ever heard of.

Three benefits of niche expertise:

  1. You earn the trust and respect of your niche client
  2. You become the expert in your field, and clients recognize the power of your recommendations
  3. You earn the right to ask for and receive referrals from your niche client

Where’s your expertise? Find out and shout it out!

4 Responses to Think Thin & Win: You’re the Expert

  1. Pam Foster says:

    Thanks for this fantastic post, Joanne! All freelancers need to read this. I have expertise in a niche market and I’ll take you up on your invitation to shout it out. 🙂 I’m a web-SEO marketing consultant to the pet industry (PetCopywriter.com). This includes anyone who has a website focused on marketing to pet owners, pet businesses, veterinary practices, etc. If their website isn’t working or showing up in Google, I help them. I’d appreciate any referrals and will return the favor. Many thanks! Pam Foster

  2. Deidra Jow says:

    Susan Friedmann echoes what I have heard before from a Internet marketing expert — niche markets are the way to go and the Internet supports targetting narrow slices of a specific audience.

    Thanks for the great article and good reminder.

  3. Yes, with a very strong warning! Be careful that your niche will perform for you in both good times and bad. In the 1990-91 recession, I lost 80% of my business. I had defined my niche as the construction industry which performed fabulously in the 80’s but plummeted in 1990.

    I refocused and defined my niche as small business, and within small business, professional firms who compete for talented, highly educated staff. This niche has helped us perform reasonably well in this economy.

  4. Hi Susan:

    You’re absolutely correct. We must diversify our sales efforts. Even though we can’t foretell the future, we must focus business-development activities where we expect sales growth.

    There’s a difference between a sales person saying that they sell to any sales prospect who fogs a mirror, and prospecting in two or three different verticals.

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