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Category: Niche & Practice Growth

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Developing your Niche

Speaking your Way into Niche Development

If you look at the history of any firm that dominates a niche market, you will often find this domination based on one or two people who have become authorities in that industry. Everyone in the industry knows that when you have certain kinds of problems you reach out to these people first. They are frequently quoted in the press about the industry, asked to speak at industry events and maintain a high profile with the local and national associations. 

A lot of firms are known for certain niches, but very few have gained exclusive recognition —  the household name for agribusiness accounting or the predominant architect for designing public buildings. As more firms work at niche marketing, it is going to get harder to gain that exclusive “rock star” kind of recognition.

Many smart and strategic firms remain at the most basic level of recognition, which is simply to remain visible. Your people show up, meet people, write articles and offer to speak. Your firm sponsors an event and advertises in the niche market newsletter or publication. If you are personally charismatic and connect well with people, this may be enough to gain some measure of recognition and exposure. If you are not, you had better add more marketing strategy and focus to your niche development.

See this media infographic on all the ways to gain niche visibility.

One effective tool to use when expanding a niche marketing strategy is public speaking. When you have a toehold in a niche, speaking is probably the easiest way to both gain the reputation as an expert and develop personal relationships in the niche.

If You Speak It, Own It

Doing a few “pretty good” speeches or being on a panel or two is not going to cut it. The competition is tough and you just have to be better. When Ingenuity helps someone get breakthrough recognition through speaking, we start with strategy and follow up with integrated implementation toward the goals.

You need a purpose. Most of our clients speak in order to develop business for their firms. That’s pretty generic. Decide on the true reason for your speaking — which services do you want to promote and why are you convinced that people need them? The best speakers have a passion for their topic. You need to authentically convey that passion and believe that you make a difference with what you share.

You need a goal. Start with your end clearly in mind or you will be giving away a lot of valuable information for free to people who may not care and may never buy your services. We have heard many CPAs, financial advisors and attorneys give away the store in their public speeches. Because they are trained to be experts, they tend to give away all their knowledge in the PowerPoint, leaving the audience with no appetite for more. Not that you should use a hard sales approach that never works. Instead, use a thoughtful approach to your topics and track your results. The data will show what works pretty quickly.

Create a list of organizations filled with the kinds of people who can buy your services.  Find out when these organizations have conferences, what they are looking for and how their speaking decisions are made. Decide which audiences you will charge a fee to and which you will not, as well as how you will develop leads from speaking. If the organization allows, pass out an evaluation form to qualify leads.  If not, be creative and add a landing page with a survey or information that would be valuable for them to fill out a form and receive more detail.

You need packaging. A great photo, a speaker bio and a list of topics and audiences will help you sell yourself to groups of people who do not know you. You need a great package with compelling topics in order to get in front of the decision makers you want.

A speaking coach can smooth away your nervous tics, train you to take off your nametag and shorten your PowerPoint, and most importantly help you create something dynamic and unique for your audience. If your speaking style is shaky, you might need to invest six months at Toastmasters. Tape your speeches and make yourself watch them for improvement.

You need a platform. Start pitching tidbits of fresh information and ideas from the services you most want to sell and/or are passionate about. This needs to be done regularly as many organizations are staffed by volunteers who may take a while to make decisions. Your topics should touch on key areas of pain the niche audience experiences rather than creating a platform outlining the services of your firm. Address the needs of your audience, provide insight on industry trends and offer a limited sample of recommendations and solutions that tie to your services.

Platforms are the subtle art of public speaking. Your goal is new business, but your platform is about showcasing your knowledge and awareness of audience needs and potential solutions. Through your visibility and credibility as a smart and informed speaker, you’re on your way to developing your niche in a sustainable way.

Get help with your speaking and niche market development.


Illustration of three hands holding gold stars.

Gain Recognition for your Niche

10 Ideas to Maximize Your Niche Marketing Strategy

You’ve identified your niche market, now how do you gain more exposure to that audience? Perhaps you have a few thoughts on a marketing strategy, but aren’t quite sure how to implement the plan. Here are 10 ways to become a recognized advisor in your niche market.

  1. Be Visible. Join trade associations, sponsor events and take leadership roles if possible. Learn how to effectively connect with professionals and speak to their pain, interests and desires. A little practice goes a long way.
  2. Speak. Pursue opportunities to participate in round-table discussions and speak at industry events. Proactively take part seminars and panel discussions at industry associations.
  3. Write. Submit articles to industry publications and the general media. Make sure your photo, biography, and contact information are included.
  4. Get Covered. Identify your firm as experts in your niche industry to the media and let them know that you are available for interviews and expert advice on topics within your niche.
  5. Network. Build rapport with vendors and related professionals in your niche. If you are a CPA, meet all the lawyers, bankers, insurance agents and other vendors who work in the niche.

Don’t leave your niche marketing strategy to chance. Align strategies with your brand positioning and the key messages of your firm.

  1. Train. Host training sessions or conferences for clients related to your niche services. Better yet, offer to speak or present if they are in need of your expertise.
  2. Publish. Be seen as an authority by creating niche newsletters or guides that offer tips and advice to clients.
  3. Model. Research what other firms are doing and adopt similar strategies. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but don’t overdo it. Modeling a similar strategy doesn’t mean you can’t infuse your firm’s culture and personality into it.
  4. Read. Stay up to date on industry news to understand client needs and challenges. Share your learning and impart your newfound wisdom to others in the firm through email or connect at lunch.
  5. Perform. Do a great job for current clients so they sing your praises. Take that one step further by obtaining testimonials and case studies about the difference you have made for your clients that you can share in your niche marketing materials.
Red and blue target illustration.

Niche Marketing Strategy Must Go Deeper Than Before

How to Grow Your Niche Market 

As your firm becomes known for a niche industry or service, you rise above the competition and are hired for that knowledge and your connections. The niche becomes part of your brand.

Niches can also attract and retain talented young professionals for the partner track.

For example, one of our accounting clients has built two-thirds of the firm’s practice in government consulting, a deep niche that is attracting non-CPAs with health care backgrounds as well as accountants. Another client focuses exclusively on pharmacies, and now has a national market. Yet another client has success with a large niche in buy here pay here auto dealerships that has contributed to double-digit firm revenue growth. 

From these examples, it’s clear that niche development is going deeper than before, requiring a focused niche marketing strategy to stay visible to a narrower audience. 

How to Deepen Your Niche Market

Which clients do you already serve in an industry? Can you grow a deeper niche for which you are better known than any competitor? Can the niche expand nationally?

You have to discern if the niche is sustainable as a growth industry, the level of competition and the potential to gain a significant portion of the market without being the lowest cost provider. Market research goes a long way toward defining your true niches. 

For AEC clients, we have done market research for specific cities as well as for subspecialties that range from senior housing to urban redevelopment. Check out our range of research capabilities.

If you don’t yet have a niche or if your firm is small, you can still develop a narrower niche within an industry. One professional services firm exploring new opportunities in manufacturing started to focus just on software developers because of the number of those firms in its region and the fact that no other comparable firms served them. It had a few clients and knowledgeable staff and was able to grow the niche through referrals and strategic marketing.  

Create a Firm Within a Firm

Speaking of your niche team, select someone as the lead or spokesperson who has the respect of other partners and can facilitate niche objectives. Organize the team like a company within a company. Build in administrative and marketing support, job descriptions, a budget, and incentives for participation. 

Ideally, you want a mix of established and new staff on the team to fuel ideas and momentum. Without this organization and commitment to growth, team members can be pulled in other directions — lacking time for focused business development and niche client services expansion. 

Choose Your Messages

Work with the niche team to identify its value proposition. Why do you service the clients exceptionally well? Why is your experience important to their everyday business? Decide what sets your firm apart in this area and what values and expectations you want people to associate with your team.

Helpful hint: To support niche visibility, your online presence should look like the people and industry that you serve. Update your images and messaging to speak to their pains, interests and desires. 

One of our clients recently asked us to develop team member bios that reflect their niche-specific experience. These bios can be used on the website as well as in proposals, presentations and speaking engagements to create more niche visibility and growth.    Other firms develop partner-marketing events and send out industry briefs to inform niche clients and potential clients about their knowledge.   

Remember that niche market development is not a rapid process. It can take years to establish your expertise. Make sure when identifying a deeper niche that it has internal champions with established industry connections and knowledge, a target market with growth potential, and synergy with your firm’s vision.

See how we worked with one firm to update their online presence to reflect their niches.

Headshot of former Ingenuity Marketing Group employee Virginia McCoy.

Three Niche Marketing Hacks to Reach More Leads

A niche marketing strategy can help your professional services firm understand your target client’s pains and desires. In doing so, you will reach a targeted group of leads and bring in more business. In this video, we share three niche marketing hacks to reach more leads. Learn how research, social tools, content and partnership marketing will drive your niche marketing strategy.

How to Succeed at Partnership Marketing

Click here to learn about Ingenuity’s research capabilities.


 

How to Identify and Prepare Your Firm’s Next Partner

How should professional service firm partners identify and prepare their future partners? Principal Dawn Wagenaar provides five ways to help emerging leaders develop the mindset of a future owner. Help them prepare now as a key retention strategy.

Click here to learn about Ingenuity’s training and coaching services for emerging leaders.

8 Steps to Succeed at Niche Partnership Marketing

At Super Bowl LII, the makers of Doritos and Mountain Dew partnered up on dueling commercials while asking fans to share their own lip-sync performances on Snapchat. Their common fans agreed that the products go together and that the consecutive commercials made them want to buy both products. It was the perfect example of successful partnership marketing…and fun!

This strategy can be a great option for niche marketing. But we’ve seen too many examples of partnership marketing done badly, leaving one partner with success while the other gets a participation medal. To make a partnership marketing opportunity the best it can be, do the following:

1. Choose the right partner.

If you are a manufacturer, do not partner with another manufacturer unless your markets are complementary. Professionals, likewise, should partner with a strong referral source. You can even choose to partner with a media outlet if they offer programs in which they do all the marketing for the purposes of meeting new potential advertisers through the event or campaign.

2. Align your goals.

Make sure you are on the same page with the reasons for your partnership. If your partner is only interested in your clients and you get nothing out of it, it’s worthless. Talk about the potential audience and if that audience is beneficial to both of you. Make sure each partner is guaranteed some level of success with visibility, networking or sales leads.

3. Have a hook.

Why should people spend their time attending your event or paying attention to your campaign? What’s in it for them? You and your partner could play host to an attractive guest speaker or panel. We’ve seen instances where companies partner to host a popular author for a book signing. Others may co-host a charity outing. You must provide value to gain value.

Click here to read about our CFO Survey project.

4. Choose an attractive venue.

If your office is a terrible meeting place, do not force people to go there. They won’t. Choose a comfortable location that is set up well for mingling, listening to speakers or entertainment. Talk to a meeting planner about how to maximize attendance (e.g. date and time of event).

5. Promote heavily.

In addition to advertising, use your social media and direct invites effectively. People are busy, and they usually need to see something several times before they will pay attention and/or sign up. If your partnership campaign is a series of expert videos or podcasts, for example, continuous promotion will start to reach a percentage of your target audience. One announcement is not enough. Also, make sure your invite list is large. Things come up. Only a percentage of that list will commit and attend.

6. Position your company.

As a partner, your company should be central as sponsor or host. Create signage or have an attractive booth. Use your logo strategically online and at the event. Have people from your company positioned as greeters, experts or both to ensure that everyone knows or gets to know your business. This is not a hard sell situation. Through advertising of the event, campaign or product all the way through the marketing process, your company should stand out and get people to opt in to future communications.

7. Outsource logistics.

You don’t have time to worry about food, security, the sign-up table or the technology. Put your best vendors or people on key tasks to pull off a seamless partnership event. Your job is to mingle, educate and gather new contacts. If you are hosting an online event, have tech people on hand to deal with unexpected glitches or to facilitate live Q and A.

A great advantage to partnership marketing is splitting the cost of logistics with your partner!

8. Follow up with leads.

After all the work of conducting partnership marketing, do not forget to have a follow-up plan. Whether that’s a fishbowl drawing to collect business cards, an online contact capture tool or a related resource to share, be prepared to continue the conversation with attendees after your event.

A subtle type of partnership marketing is public speaking, particularly through niche marketing association events.

Click here to learn about our speakers bureau services as an outsource marketing option.