Friday, January 5, 2007

Defining Your Market to Attract Better Clients

I was having lunch with a colleague yesterday and the topic of Treasure Valley Consultants' Network came up. I talked about my intentions for the organization and some of the early challenges I encountered.

From the start, I built TVCNet on the principles of the law of abundance (the universe is always producing) and six degrees of separation (also known as Milgram's Small World Experiment). I also built it with the intention to help fellow consultants, including myself, further define who we are and who we serve. I know all of this might sound hokey and new age-y, but hear me out.

I believe TVCNet's greatest challenge is overcoming the limiting belief that most consultants have. That belief is competition is at an all-time high in our profession and that we must guard our knowledge, skills and talents with our life! Basically, we are all going after the same slice of pie. Not so. Instead, I believe that the pie is big enough for everyone to have a slice - that's the law of abundance at work.

I also believe we are all interconnected whether we know it or not. For fun, maybe from among our membership we ought to try an experiment where we pick a name of someone famous or an executive in a company somewhere in our nation and try the Milgram experiment just to see how many people it takes to reach that person. I've read many accounts of where this has worked even using the most random, ordinary people as the target. Think of the power this could have for both you and I just from our modest group of members if we took advantage of something as simple as networking.

And what about defining markets? When I started my consulting business I tried to be all things to all people. I thought this was the quickest way to success because I could take on a bunch of little projects and then further define my market at a later time. All this created was confusion not only on the part of my target audience, but to myself as well. On a few occasions I felt as though I sold-out. Nobody knew what I was doing and who I was trying to serve. It wasn't until this past Fall when I focused in on one particular industry to offer my services to. Since then, I've noticed a change in the potential clients I am attracting. Psychologically this was scary because I thought I was limiting my pool of potential clients, but in reality I was expanding my pool in a selected industry, focusing my message to my target audience in a sea of fewer competitors.

The point is, TVCNet and similar organizations helps members to further define our respective businesses. It provides members an opportunity to see who else is practicing in their category. If you are an HR consultant or if you are a marketing consultant among a sea of other consultants that do similar work, ask yourself who are you serving? Could you focus in on a particular industry? The best advice I received was to focus in on one or two industries (related, of course) and excel in them. This way you will attract those who truly need your services because it pre-qualifies them and once you succeed in that industry you can move on or add other industries. By being all things to all people, your message is cloudy and will get lost among the buzz we are bombarded with through various forms of media day in and day out.

While it is true there are many other organizations like TVCNet in the Boise area, many have members that do similar jobs or market similar products and services. The successful members get involved, work hard at defining their audience, understand the pie is big enough for everyone to have a slice and leverage the power of networking through the Milgram theory.

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