An IMA member from the UK faced a problem many info-marketers share, too many choices, not enough focus. Here is his question:
I’ve run design businesses for the last 26 years—had great times in the good ol’ days with sales of over half a million dollars. Right now, because of the economy and through deviating into marketing consultancy, it is myself and wife with a couple of regular freelancers, and we now work from a home office.
The design business is down (and I don’t want general design biz anymore—no money in it!), and I really need to get my act together. I’ve identified three key areas that I could focus on providing info on a marketing system:
- To other design companies—they are historically bad at marketing themselves and feeling a lot of ‘pain’ at the moment due to the perceived value of design diminishing in general. However, I’m interested in also offering implementation to whatever area I specialize in, and this will be unlikely to happen with other design companies.
- Auto repair—I’m working with a friend who runs an auto repair business, testing a marketing system with him. It’s a bit of a learning curve, but not a massive amount. There would also be the possibility of implementation services.
- Printers and marketing service companies (large format display, web development, photographers, etc.)—since it’s an industry that I’ve been used to working in, this would be familiar territory. Again, no specific competition in terms of specialists.
It would be great to do all 3 eventually, but not practical to start with. I am thinking that I can take my ‘generic’ marketing system and adapt accordingly.
But, I keep going round in circles and am finding it difficult to make a decision. I think I’m almost done with reading, listening to audio and videos—I’ve reached the info overload stage, but at the same time become a bit of an info junky where it’s all I seem to do—putting off getting started.
Do you think you can help?
Thank you for your question.
I can still clearly remember several years ago praying to God to bring me some sort of opportunity, anything. It wasn’t but a few months later that I faced a problem similar to yours, too many opportunities from which to choose.
Having too many opportunities is something you’ll face during your entire career as a business owner. The more successful you are, the more opportunities you’ll be offered, and often it will become overwhelming. The only solution is to develop your own filtering mechanism to work through the deluge of opportunities competing for your time, investment and attention.
Here are a few questions I have developed to help me choose the niche on which I prefer to focus:
- Which niche is experiencing the most pain and whose members will be open to replacing their current methods for new ways?
- Which niche has the largest transaction size when a member gets a new customer? (When the value of what you teach is higher to the customer, you can charge a higher price.)
- Which niche is easier to reach? (Are there magazines, mailing lists or other resources that allow you to easily contact potential customers?)
- For which niche do you have the best stories (breakthroughs achieved, example marketing materials, experiences the members of the niche can relate to)?
- Which niche will relate to you better? (Sure, you could do any niche, but if you have a niche where you will be seen as a peer, all the better.)
- In which niche do you have relationships with key industry leaders who are in a position to refer you?
- In which niche do you have relationships with vendors who could sponsor training programs or help you promote your programs by recommending your products to their customers?
Often, even when an info-marketer approaches me for coaching on one particular niche, I’ll quickly discover he or she is torn in many directions by other great ideas. I’ll work through the above exercise with the info-marketer by creating a table with a row for each question and a column for each opportunity. By answering each question for each niche, it’s typically easy to see which option is the best one. That doesn’t mean you can’t go back to the others later, but it helps you identify which niche to focus on first.
The results of this exercise are often emotionally unsatisfying because they don’t always point to doing something new. The reason most info-marketers get distracted is because they are bored with what they are currently doing. For Andy, it is the design industry. Yes, there are serious financial problems in that business; however, if it’s what he knows the best and the one for which he has the most industry contacts, then it’s probably the best place for him to start. Yes, other things might be new and exciting, but they’ll be a lot harder as well.
In 2005 I wanted to become a real estate investor. I saw the money they made, and I wanted to get into the game. Bill Glazer counseled me to stay my course and to stick with what I knew. While there was a lot of money in real estate, I was doing something no one else could do.
Bill’s advice turned out to be brilliant. Not only has the real estate industry seen its share of troubles, but I’ve done well by staying within my established niche instead of running off to what seemed like fun at the moment.
Yes, I know, not very exciting. I’m not the person to look to for giving you permission to run off in crazy directions, flitting from one opportunity to the next. Nope. I’m all about sticking with what you know, innovating your marketing, implementing business systems and building a solid, long-lasting business that no one else in the world can build as well as you. That’s what I’m about, and that’s why I created the IMA to help you achieve that.
So, what do you think? Did you depart from what you knew to create a new, successful business, and so you can refute my advice here? Or have you stuck with something, even though it wasn’t the most exciting opportunity, only to discover it was, in fact, the most lucrative? Either way, I want to hear from you. Let me know what you think by scrolling to the bottom of the page and posting your comment.