Jack is a marketing consultant.  He’s worked with lots of companies and on lots of projects.

His clients have been Fortune 500 companies, middle market companies, and even a few start-ups. His projects have been strategic plans, new product introductions, branding strategies, market analyses, and many more.

Jack enjoys his work.  He likes the variety and is constantly exposed to new ideas and new people.

But Jack has a problem.  All this variety makes it hard to explain his expertise. And it makes it hard to look for new projects.

He has another problem: colleagues consider him, well, a “jack-of-all-trades and master of none.”  They don’t know how to refer him.

Jack needs a niche.

Why Your Niche Matters

You may like being a generalist (remember Jack and the variety thing?), and you may not like being pigeonholed.  But I’veFocus.jpg got news for you:  your prospects want to hire specialists and your colleagues find it much easier to refer specialists.

So, guess what:  you’ve got to position yourself as a specialist. That doesn’t mean you have to do only one thing. But it’s how you should describe yourself.

The real advantage of being specialist is that you can focus your entire business development effort around a niche.  You have a clear message.  You have a well defined target market.  You have a focused networking strategy.

For example, let’s say you position yourself as a specialist in new product launches.  You could define your niche by:

  • Industry
  • Product type (industrial, CPG etc)
  • Type of company (large, medium, small)
  • Geography (e.g multinational launches)
  • Some combination of the above

(Hint:  The narrower the better.)

Do Your Homework

It may be relatively easy for some people to define their specialty.  That may just be a matter of emphasis.

For instance, I know a trusts and estates lawyer with a varied practice.  But he describes himself as an elder law specialist. That doesn’t preclude him from writing wills, when asked.

For others, especially Jack, it may be much harder.  He can’t just decide to emphasize a certain specialty because he’s done so many things.

If you’re like Jack, you may have to do some serious research.  To find your niche, analyze your projects for the past three to five years and look for patterns

  • Type of Client
  • Type of project
  • Type of Problem
  • Value – How enjoyable was it? How profitable was it?

You can use the grid below to analyze each project.  This looks like an excruciating exercise. But I’ve used it with clients, and it works.

It will help you determine where you have the most experience, your best prospects, and your best referral sources.  It will also help you decide what projects you enjoy most.

Examples

Client Profile

  • Industry

Manufacturing, IT, Consumer Goods

  • Company Size

Fortune 500, Mid-Market, Small

  • Location

Nearby, US, Global

  • Decision Maker Title

Owner, CEO, CMO

  • Client Motivation

Grow, Cut Costs, Reduce Risk

Project

  • Description
  • Category

Strategic Plan, Marketing Plan

  • Problem/Opportunity

Poor Sales Team, New Market

  • Results

Reorganized Sales Team

  • Benefits

More Revenue, Lower Costs

Metrics

  • Enjoyment

How much did you enjoy the project

  • Profitability

How profitable was it

Source of Business

  • Source

Repeat Assignment , Referral, Cold Call

  • Relationship

Client, Networking Group, Trade/Professional Association

  • Person’s name
  • Industry/Profession

Marketing Consultant, Marketing Executive