I recently took a call from a lady called Jan who is running a small book keeping practice with ambitions of building a larger business but struggling to keep her head above water in the economic downturn.

She was frustrated at how much harder it is these days at finding new clients. A year ago it would have been hard enough but now with more people hanging onto their cash she was really feeling the pinch. I asked her how she differentiates her services from her competitors and Jan could not come up with an answer. ‘Surely book-keeping is book keeping!’ she replied. ‘My target market is anyone who wants a book keeper but does not want to employ one’.

Jan’s problem is shared by almost every client I work with when they first come to see me. They are struggling to generate enough interest in their services. They are still doing the same things as they were in times when people were spending. Now more than ever we need to be standing out from the crowd. The answer is not to shout louder than the rest of the crowd or spend more money on marketing. The answer is to find a smaller niche that is not being served properly and where you have credibility. Normally companies can find a niche amongst their existing client base.

Too many people are trying to be all things to all people. They talk about casting one’s net wide to catch more fish. In my experience it makes more sense to change where you fish and to focus on a specific type of fish! When you know which fish you are seeking to land then you can find out where they are and what the best bait is to use. You can find out what the best time to fish is and develop a process for catching them. Best of all, if you are the only one who is focused on a particular pool then you can get all the best vantage points. It is not a difficult job to do but it does need objectivity and an understanding of markets rather than marketing.

We stand out from the crowd by homing in on a niche that is not being fully served, understanding their problems and providing effective solutions to those problems. When we understand our target audience then communicating to them is much easier and often cheaper.