Market Your Business by Being Two-Faced!
I’m a great believer in targeted marketing and specialization. Focusing on particular types of clients and offering services aimed tightly at specific needs enhances your appeal to those clients at the same time it improves your efficiency, resulting in better margins on your work.
But it is possible to market your business by having more than one target for your services. Unfortunately, many people expand their targets haphazardly, drifting into others kinds of clients and services by accident as opportunities come up.
If you are looking for ways to expand your audience for your services while still taking advantage of the efficiencies and other benefits of focusing on a target market, examine the two-sided relationships:
- between you and your client
- between your clients and their own customers, suppliers, and so on.
By taking this “two-faced” approach to relationships, considering the alternate perspective that you usually leave to your client, you may find new services to sell, and new customers to sell them to.
It may be easier to show how to market your business using this approach with a couple of examples than it is to explain it. Let me share some stories from my experience in content development and writing for consultants who work with banks.
One accountant I work with had a client base of wealthy individuals. When these people went to the bank to get a loan, they had to provide their tax returns. And they generally wanted those tax returns to show that they had plenty of assets, so the banker would know there was little risk they wouldn’t pay back their loans.
Unfortunately, they had already paid the accountant to minimize their apparent income, for tax purposes. Bankers were turning away good customers, based on their tax information.
The solution? Teach bankers how to analyze tax returns to “unravel” what the accountant had done to minimize tax liability. Having developed expertise on one side of the desk, the accountant now used that experience to market to the other side of the desk. Most of his (substantial) income is now derived from training seminars he delivers to large banks, training their staff in analyzing financial information from wealthy customers.
Another client spent decades training bankers all across the country how to analyze requests for business loans. Now, business owners are often frustrated that their financial statements seem to mean entirely different things to the bankers than they do to the business owners who prepared them.
As the person who taught so many bankers how to analyze business customers, this client was the ideal person to teach business owners how bankers think. That realization has opened a new market, based on the same relationship my client has always worked with, for giving talks and offering articles and products for business owners as well as bankers.
Where Is Your Two-Way Street?
In both of these success stories, consultants went beyond what they had been offering — very successfully — to see opportunities to approach things from the other side of the desk, as it were. They realized they were dealing with transactions that had two sides, and they were serving only one. They opened up new markets for themselves, without having to acquire new skills or doing a lot of new product development.
They found they could apply the same expertise, share the same knowledge they had been sharing for years, to an enlarged target market. They maintained their specialization, but effectively doubled their opportunities to sell what they know. And besides revenue, they enhanced their visibility and their opportunities for referrals.
You may be able to do the same sort of thing to build your market. Perhaps:
- You spend most of your time building web sites for small businesses. But you also give presentations, at small business conventions, or provide e-books and other tools, teaching small businesses how to choose the web designer that is right for them.
- Your writing business focuses on safety issues in the workplace, within a particular industry. You also provide training to the insurers of that industry in how to review safety and training procedures among their clients.
- As a consultant, besides your regular topics, you offer seminars or sell materials to departments in large corporations explaining the most common ways that companies waste money on consultants, and how to avoid those mistakes.
- You have clients who sell to other businesses (B2B), and you learn a lot about their own customers in the process. So you approach the regional and national trade associations those customers belong to and provide information, training, or other services that will help them make the best purchasing decisions.
I am sure you can come up with much better examples from your own experience. Just remember that there are two sides to every relationship.
If you are only selling to one side, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table.