Tailoring a Message: Finding Your Business Niche
By Harper Tucker, Chair of Finance Practice
ESPN took the five minutes sports fans cared about in the news and made it a twenty-four hour network. However, if you only wanted to hear about, say, the Clemson Tigers, you’d still have to sit through a lot of stuff you didn’t care about. Today, there are podcasts, websites, forums all dedicated solely to Clemson football – hours of content geared towards exactly what you wanted. This concept is no different for VCs, CPAs, lawyers, or myriad other professions. America’s population hit three hundred and twenty-three million in 2016, if you have a specialty, there are going to be people interested. If you are tailoring your firm towards elder law, there are about fifty million seniors in this country (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2016/cb16-ff08.html) so business is booming. Though, this might not be granular enough. Can you just focus on the elderly in one region, elderly first-generation Americans, what about just elderly within certain income brackets? Depending on where you live, you could have a big enough population to get specific and still cast a fairly wide net. One important thing to note is how many new clients you really need. Let’s say you run a VC firm and each new client is worth $50,000, $100,000, $250,000, or more, do you need a hundred thousand new clients? Do you need ten thousand? Odds are that you can only handle a certain volume responsibly and that you will be well taken care of with a significantly smaller, more quality client base. Figure out what you are best at while finding out who it is you like working with the most. Look at your favorite clients and try to find a thread linking them. Maybe you love working with people in their forties or fifties that work in oil and gas, if you think there is a big enough market you can focus in on them. Micromedia outlets can serve to bolster your authority in niche areas that you can best serve. I’ve written previously about building your authority (Building your Authority), this in that vein but goes even more specific. The first step of this, of course, is identifying your specialty. Just like those podcasts that focus in on specific teams, there are ones that just feature interviews with authors of legal books or ones that talk exclusively about retirement. Making content like this is a proactive way steer the right people toward your business if you know how to do it.
You are already an expert in your field, you’ve gone to school and/or been in the business long enough to know what you’re talking about. The issue is getting people to sit down in front of you to listen. I’ve covered matters of authority in a previous post (How to be an Expert), but the idea is that once you considered an expert, people will want to seek you out. This is no different except for it’s a matter of being an expert in an even more specialized field. Think about doctors, a primary care physician makes about ninety-thousand dollars less than a specialist does (http://www.cbsnews.com/media/what-doctors-earn-highest-and-lowest-paid-specialties/). You wouldn’t want your primary care doctor performing brain surgery on you. Nor would you want just any VC to take you public, you want to get the person who knows your industry like the back of their hand. We reward the people who serve specific functions. Let’s say you’ve put in the time to specialize but are not attracting the amount or quality of clients that you deserve. What’s next is finding ways to put yourself in front of exactly the right people.
It used to be that there were only a few television channels, magazines, or newspapers into which professionals could hope to enter their voice. Now, if you were able to get into these publications, you would almost be assured that you would be heard. This is no longer the case. Even if you are in the Wall Street Journal talking about investment banking, people can miss it or forget it in the constant flood of information. You need to enter yourself into this perpetual stream with consistent, worthy content. Make a blog, podcast, Facebook, or LinkedIn but don’t think that is enough. Your success requires you to put out new information every week if not every day. Don’t just be an expert, be the expert talking about pressing issues, be the expert talking right now. The caveat to this is that your message has to be one worth reading. People will glaze over at your new post if the last one wasn’t entertaining or informative. You’ll need to be active across a variety of platforms, each directing to the other ones. This serves to reach people who only use a couple of forms of social media, it also lets them know that you have a deep presence in your profession. It would be a waste for you to be a guest on someone’s podcast or TV show if you didn’t have some forms of micromedia to plug at the end. You always want to drive people back to your own content. Make it easy for people to find you and have something entertaining for them when they get there.
When you set out into the micromedia landscape, have clear goals. Have a number of speaking engagements you wish to get or number of subscribers you want to hit. A well-defined objective can help you see not only how you’re doing but inform the avenues you should take to get there. Much like choosing your niche, there are going to be certain platforms that play better to your strengths. If you aren’t a confident speaker, maybe a podcast isn’t for you so you should focus more on written media. If you hate writing longform content, your blog might take a backseat to your Twitter. The point is that in order to reach your target audience and your objectives, you will need to use the micromedia that best serves your voice. An important note to remember is that the stronger your conviction to your niche, the more magnetic your message will be for them. Write, talk, get interviewed about the concerns these people have as often and as passionately as you can. If you specialize in reverse mergers, be one of the first, most recent things that comes up when a potential client Googles the topic. Micromedia might seem daunting but there is so much to gain from being a familiar voice for a niche topic.