One of the most pressing questions my clients ask is: "How do I quickly become the dominant force in my chosen niche, without spending unlimited amounts of money?"
It's a crucial question but one that's not necessarily right on target.
I've seen many professional service firms, with unlimited amounts of money, watch helplessly while smaller, nimbler and smarter competitors ran circles around them with their “smarter” marketing efforts.
Marketing is very seldom about money...it's always about brains! If you've got more "smarts," you'll beat the "big" guy every time.
The two keys to profitably selling any professional service in large quantities and at high profit margins are to:
a) Locate a supremely profitable niche and then,
b) Become the dominant player in that niche in the least amount of time, with the least amount of marketing outlay.
Over the last 24 years I've come to the conclusion that the following 5 simple strategies, implemented in tandem over a 60 day "intense" marketing period, will leave your competitors (regardless of size or marketing budget) wondering what "hit" them.
The strategies are simple, devastatingly effective and they will work for any service firm, from a one man shop to a Big 4 "behemoth."
Strategy One: Aim at one and only one niche at a time.
Too many professionals think that "everyone" is their client. Even when they do select a niche...it generally ends up being six times larger than originally envisioned when the project started. Your consulting firm started out going after biotech firms, then you threw in pharmaceutical companies and then added hospitals at the last minute because..."well, aren't they all in health care?"
We all suffer from this. It's human nature to think that if we only speak to a select few individuals, in any population, we might be "missing" something important, somewhere else.
That's where most marketing projects fail. Right at the start.
Think of it like getting married. You won't succeed in marriage if you're still trying to date all the other girls in town. You've got to "focus" on your dream wife...pamper her, care for her and treat her as the most important person on this earth. Your clients are won by exactly the same approach...massive concentration of effort!
Pick one niche; dominate it, automate it and then move on to another niche.
Strategy Two: Craft a "dynamite and irresistible" marketing message.
This is how you "pamper" your niche. You speak personally to your client's deepest needs, fears and wants.
Create a "Domino's Pizza" message.
What's your biggest fear when you order pizza? That it'll arrive cold, look disgusting and be inedible, even for your dog...in other words a total waste of your money.
Domino's founder Tom Monaghan knew this when he crafted the "30 minutes or free" USP.
Notice he didn't talk about "mom's famous recipe," having the best ingredients or how the pizza is prepared with only "loving care."
He went straight to the biggest fear of his customers...getting the pizza delivered late and in inedible form.
If you're a lawyer, don't write about "estate planning," write about "disinheriting the IRS." Clients don't care about "estates'...they do care about having more money to spend while they're alive.
Your clients want to know how you will benefit them right now, today!
Strategy Three: Become the "obvious expert" in your niche
Your goal is to become the "go to guy" in your niche. When you're the "obvious expert" in your specialty, high-level and powerful decision makers contact you when they have a need. You don't chase them...they call you.
The obvious expert does all of the following:
- Has a compelling USP that he relentlessly communicates at every opportunity.
- Offers proof as to why she's the best. Testimonials, stories, case studies and special reports.
- Offers valuable decision makers interesting and relevant information at regular intervals.
- Congregates where other valuable decision makers in the niche hang out. If your niche is construction...are you in the construction association?
- Relentlessly follows-up with prospects over long periods of time.
- Provides proven exceptional service and value.
- Is constantly looking for new ways to help his niche by doing surveys.
In my experience, most professionals are already doing most, if not all of the above.
Most professionals are already "experts"...they just aren't the obvious experts.
So, how do you become the "obvious" expert?
Strategy Four: Create a "hit list" of your most desired 100 clients in your niche.
This is the key strategy in this whole article.
If you want to become truly recognized in your niche, you've got to take all of your "firepower" and concentrate it on a small target for 60 days.
Think of it this way. Would you rather be a starving fisherman in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with just a fishing rod or would you rather be staring at a barrel full of fish and have a stick of dynamite in your hand?
Creating your "Dream 100" list puts the fish "in" the barrel" and the “dynamite” in your hand.
Your goal, in the next 60 days, is to contact each of your dream 100 prospects 7 times with your unique and "potent" marketing message (note: if your marketing message is just another "aren't I great message" this whole approach is doomed from the start.)
Think "total market" saturation. You are going to "drown" your small target universe of 100 prospects with the following:
- A series of well crafted direct mail letters delivered once each week.
- Interesting and provocative special reports, CDs, DVDs and white papers that contain relevant material…material that your prospects cannot ignore because it is speaking their language.
- Follow up phone calls every 20 days. These calls are not sales calls. You simply want to know if the prospect received the information, did they find it useful and is there something they might be particularly interested in that you could send them.
- Invitation to a special purpose web site (not your 300 page general site---rather an 8-10 page special site with its own unique domain name) that offers more information to the prospects in exchange for their private email addresses and offers them a way to request even more information from you.
- You get them on your in-house email list and start sending them e-newsletters automatically, every week.
- Any other activities which may be appropriate in your situation (e.g. seminars, workshops, press release, TV and Radio interviews, maybe TV and Radio advertising etc.)
In other words...you are going to become the only name associated with your field of expertise among these top 100 prospects and you're going to do it in 60 days.
If your marketing message is right on target...you won't be viewed as a pest but rather as the "savior" from heaven in your problem specialty area ( if you’re hungry and hate cold, rotten pizza, can Domino’s tell you they do it better to many times?)
As you can see, none of this is going to cost you very much in the way of dollars.
The impact is like dropping a nuclear weapon on your competition, however.
Strategy Five: Implement auto-pilot referral systems.
Here is where the big payoff comes from in your 60 day "sprint."
If you've done everything right, you're now the name most recognized, with your USP in the minds of those 100 prospects you've been relentlessly targeting. You’re now the “obvious expert.”
A large percentage of these people won't be in a position to do business with you right now. That's fine. If you've conducted yourself professionally though...they admire and respect your expertise. They are in “awe” and you've become part of their "affinity" group.
People with similar attributes and qualities tend to "hang around" with other similar people. Hence, CPAs associate with other CPAs. Software developers associate with other software developers. Rich people have rich friends. You get the point.
You're now part of their “buddy” system and you can and must capitalize on that.
Expand your niche “buddies” through your "new" referral network by:
- Asking for introductions.
- Forming an industry group where you will host and invite other members of your group to information events with industry experts.
- Ask for names of other people in the group to add to your mailing list and email list.
- Provide prospects with the opportunity to refer by asking for referrals on all your correspondence.
- Having client appreciation events where they can bring a friend.
- Creating "viral" marketing material that will be passed on by the members of your new group.
Referral methods are endless and limited only by your imagination.
Voila, you are now “master” of your domain.
Conclusion: Start with the “right” message, aimed at the right target. Carpet bomb the niche target with every weapon in your arsenal and you win the “obvious expert” war in 60 days or less.
It works ever time. You’ll wonder why you never tried it before.
Now pick another niche and do it again.
CPA Marketing Best Practices
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