Several years ago I met a guy who had been a well known consultant in the automotive industry. Auto manufacturers in Detroit knew him well. Even though this was long before today’s high security in every workplace you could not just walk in off the street into the Ford research lab. However there and at the Chevrolet plant he could sail right in, without even showing his drivers license to the security guard. He was well known to everyone from the reception desk to the Board room.
Then, Honda and Toyota and all the rest began to take the shine off the Fords and Chevys. His services were less and less in demand and he was not likely to be welcomed in either the German or Japanese auto plants. He saw no end in sight to the decline in his revenues and his prestige. What was he going to do?
Was there a business development strategy he could use that would be more efficient, more effective? It occurred to him that the services he had been providing to the automotive manufacturers were also used by every other manufacturing company – no matter what they were making, in every industry.
Wouldn’t it be smart of him if he could market himself to the widest possible audience of people known to need the service he was providing? Rather than simply be known as the best process engineering consultant in the auto industry he would become known as the best process engineering consultant in the entire manufacturing sector.
No matter what happened within a single industry he was secure. He would be in demand as long as anything was being manufactured in the U.S. So that’s what he did.
How about you? You’re a consultant, coach, or other advisor who wants to grow your business. Would it be more efficient to niche yourself vertically within a single industry? Or horizontally offering your brand of service to businesses across every industry?
Let’s say you know a lot about customer service. It might seem that the most efficient approach would be for you to focus where you are already comfortable. When you had a regular job it was in the garment industry. So it would be a natural for you to call on garment industry prospects. You know their lingo, you’re comfortable. But are you making the right strategic decision?
On the other hand it may be strategically much more effective for you if you offer your customer service strategies to every company, no matter what industry they’re in, in your area. They all have customer service issues to deal with that you can help them with.
Your garment industry contacts will be your base of clients, people who will sing your praises and introduce you to people who respect them (people who have never heard of you) and who will see you based on their prestige.
For example if you live in the Los Angeles area you could give a presentation to a different group of business owners every day there are so many of them. Once your garment industry friends introduce to their service club groups you’re on your way. Every room will be filled with business owners who, no matter what they make, sell, or deliver will all have a common ‘hot button’ customer service.
You become the go-to person in customer service. You get asked to write a column in the local business journal, and co-sponsor “Customer Service Days” with the Chamber of Commerce. And lawyers, accountants, and other professionals will refer their clients with customer service issues to you.
The professional referrals will roll in because the lawyers and accountants will assume that you’re the best – since everyone is always brining up your name and they know that since this your specialty they are not going to lose control of their client to you. You are a specialist, customer service is what you do.
No matter your speciality this will work for you. After a while everywhere you go people will recognize you as the expert in whatever you specialize in. And when your paths cross with prospects who have the problems you solve – they are pre-sold.
I know this works, it has worked for me for thirty years. And it is not rocket science or i would have never figured it out. And it is both efficient and effective making it the perfect marketing strategy.