Someone reached out to me recently and asked the ultimate question:
How do experts get traction in a market when there are so many competitors, and they’re all doing the marketing tactics we’re told to; SEO, email marketing, blogging, social media, and so on.
This issue permeates every industry, but it is most prominent with marketing consultants and agencies. Such is the nature of marketers running the business…
It’s actually quite simple though. Let’s explore marketing for marketers, and why so many get it wrong.
We’re All Doing the Right Things
Conducting keyword research, shooting out a press release, writing blog posts, emailing our lists, posting on your Facebook page…
Then there’s all the tricks and best practices for conversion rate optimization. Are we pruning our lists? Making strong calls-to-action? Updating past articles? Split testing, too?
And yet, significant progress is difficult to find. You find yourself in a stalemate with competitors who know that they need to do this as well, so you feel like you are making little impact on the competitive landscape. Because truthfully, you are making little impact when you’re lost in all the tactics everyone else is doing, in the same way that they are doing them.
“Niche!” They all scream…
If you have spent more than sixty seconds researching how to improve your position as an expert, you have likely heard the same advice touted from countless others — coaches, practitioners, experts, gurus, and everyone in-between.
You need to niche if you want to be successful!
There is truth to this. However, it is not clear and often poses a strong challenge when not meaningfully explained. In no way would I say it is poor advice.
However, it is likely that within your niche, you will face different competition. You may be able to niche to a degree that competition disappears, but most cannot adhere to, sustain, or find volume at this level of niching. So, aside from excellence within your niche, you need to get the other element right. That element is not a tactic, like we covered above, because your niched competitors will do the same.
What to Focus on in your Expert Positioning to Impact All Marketing
There is one single element of your business you need to focus on. It will have a transformative impact on your business and marketing (think 10x) rather than an iterative impact (think 10%).
To build a successful practice as an expert, you need to develop expertise in your messaging.
Without the right messaging, fewer people will listen. Without the right messaging, the few people that do listen will be less engaged, less relevant, and less likely to turn into clients.
Defining your messaging to better position yourself in the market will:
- vastly transform conversations you have,
- increase the frequency that you receive referrals,
- improve the likelihood that media will feature you, and
- reduce your loss rate in sales opportunities.
It inherently transforms every other element of your marketing, advertising and sales. The result from this process transforms your business.
How do you improve your messaging?
To effectively communicate with your audience, you need to answer a few fundamental questions, such as:
- What is the dream outcome your client would like in their life? This does not have to be specific to what you provide.
- Why have your clients chosen to work with you as opposed to competitors? Which of these reasons do you want to carry forward, suspend, or augment to fit your vision?
- What unique process do you provide that is difficult to find elsewhere? It may be client-facing or in the background.
- What are the primary pain points your client faces? Define those that cause them a mental discomfort, referred to by psychologists as cognitive dissonance. (This is what you feel when your values and actions don’t align.) Define those that are most salient in their mind day-to-day. Ask yourself why those exist to your clients and what their implications are. Dig deep.
- What are the primary risks your client may face? Most obvious may be financial, but also thing strategic, personal, technological, and socially/reputational.
- What do your clients want guaranteed in their work within your field? What promises do they want and what expectations do they have?
Your messaging works when it connects with the soul of your audience. Humans are emotional beings. The logic of a situation must make sense, but only to the credit of validating the emotional circumstance you address for them.
Your First Steps to Stand Out from the Crowd
If you want marketing to work for you, stop doing all that stuff you’re doing today. Dedicate time to working on what you are communicating now and find out how it can better resonate with your audience.
Go through the exercise, starting with answering just the questions above for now.
Use every resource to your advantage. You may be able to glean insights from industry reports and publicly available market research reports. If you can talk with current or past clients, you can gain much greater insight specific to you. Form a focus group, if it fits your clientele.
Skip the impersonable surveying, unless you are proving a finding out of individual conversations and have a high-volume of relevant respondents.
If you need additional insight on developing your positioning, consider my article on crafting a powerful Unique Selling Proposition (USP).