how most people at networking events get it all wrong
the answer to ‘finding your niche’
It doesn’t matter whether your out networking, or digitally networking (LinkedIn prospecting) or a combination of the two. I’ve asked this question to almost EVERY business owner I’ve had conversation with, both in the UK and overseas, at conferences, exhibitions, seminars, workshops and masterclasses. I ask it at EVERY networking event I go to, and to EVERY business owner I connect with on Social Media:
So, who is your ideal target client?
And the answer, more often than not, physically makes me cringe
“Everyone with…” or “Anyone who…”
It’s quite an EASY question to answer really…
And not one I would have thought to be overly difficult to answer. And yet 9 times out of 10 the answer starts with the word ‘Everyone’ or ‘Anyone’.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are many companies out there, with multiple products/services who wish to attract multiple clients from multiple sectors, and all of that is GREAT for business. But when your trying to get to know someone and their business. When your trying to build that Know, Like, Trust relationship which is crucial to any future buying decision. And the answer comes back as Everyone/Anyone you just want to walk away as quickly as possible and click UNSUBSCRIBE/BLOCK to the ensuing email invitations that you know are bound to be ‘their’ next step!
You see, in that one foul swoop, you’ve broken any form of Know, Like and Trust with the customer. You’ve used the words Everyone/Anyone, but what the customer hears is:
I don’t care about you, I just want your money!
Let me very briefly explain. My HND is in Sociology & Psychology. Since then I’ve also got a degree in Education and a Masters in Linguistics. In layman’s terms I’ve studied quite significantly, both language and human behaviour.
We’ve all heard the expression ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. And might be happy for ‘Jack’ to come and fix a drainpipe, but wouldn’t dream of asking him to repair a leaking heart valve.
And exactly the same goes for every other decision that we make. When I want to engage in business with someone. I want to know they are a specialist in the area of business to which I am looking to engage them. The more specific they are about this, the more likely I am to build sufficient Know, Like and Trust to support my buying decision.
Let’s try a brief example:
I own a period house in the countryside. I’ve noticed some slight bowing in part of the roof, and on investigation have found some water damage to the support beams running through the gable end of the roof.
Search for a company to be able to resolve the issue and come across 2 companies adverts:
Company 1: BUILDERS/JOINERS/TILERS/ROOFERS
No job to big, no job to small. We have the skills and experience to tackle anything. Give us a call for a free quote – National Coverage.
So far the ad looks appealing. They have experience in building, joinery and rooves, accept both large and small projects, offer a free quote and cover everywhere in the country.
Company 2: Cheshire’s award winning period roof specialists
Chester’s triple award-winning roofers. With 4 generations of experience, we are specialists in period housing. We provide structural reports, thatched roofing quotes, dilapidation reports, and are recognised by the independent insurance ombudsman as a trusted trader for insurance works.
All of a sudden Company 1 has become far less attractive. I’m naturally expecting Company 2 to be more expensive and might have to wait longer for the job to get done, but are far more likely to commission them to do the work! – Why? Because they don’t sell Anything to Everyone.
I can’t remember who I first heard use the expression;
The money is in the niche
Arguably you might claim to know this, and that I’m not sharing anything new. And I’d agree, I’ve never claimed to re-invent the wheel. I’m merely highlighting how the language we use EVERY day is damaging our business our reputation our pipeline. Completely unintentionally we are sabotaging potential opportunities just because we have failed to grasp what could be considered the fundamentals of relationship building!
I’ll share one other quick example, but also as to how I used this to win one of our A list clients!
As an international keynote speaker, aside from my work in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the US, I also agree to speak at local/regional business events. And on this occasion, I had been invited to speak at a Business Networking event in Chester. Approx. 100 Business Owners in the room for a 2 course lunch and pre-luncheon speaker. I’d taken the time to liaise with the event coordinator to learn WHO had booked onto the event, and researched further some of those people and the businesses they ran. All of this was preparation for the event prior to my arrival.
Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
During my speech, I spoke about Niching, and told a story as to how the age of the customer determines how to sell to them, and used the sale of a washing machine as an example.
20 something, they are more interested in the interest free credit terms available to them!
30 something, they are more interested in load capacity and can they fit the family wash into one cycle?
40 something, they are more interested in its eco-credentials and whether it damages the environment and uses less water!
It’s the same sale, but its different language I’ll use to influence human behaviour and that comes down to KNOWING my IDEAL Target Audience.
You see, unlike other people at networking events, who might ask “So who are some of the clients your working with at present?” This is a polite way to determine ‘are you good enough to work for me?’ and determining if I want to be associated with the same people you are already working with! Where as, you might be looking to ‘up your game’ and WANT a new type, quality, sector of client to be working with?
What you’ve done has got you to where you are. What you DO will determine where you go next!
Therefore, I ALWAYS ask “Who is your IDEAL target client” this might not be anything like anyone you are currently working with. But someone you aspire to work with, and that’s my point. This subtle difference in language opens up a whole new world of opportunity. And by doing so, I can begin to determine am I more like THAT client, or might I know someone like that I could introduce you to?
Let me remain transparent.
Our IDEAL Target Client, is a business owner, somewhere between the age of 28-35 for one of our services, and 35-49 for another of our services. They also;
have been trading for more than 5 years (either in this business or a previous business) and have a small team of 5 or more (usually less than 20) working for them
are more likely providing a service rather than a product, and likely to be turning over between £500K and £5M
may be or have been either a BNI member, or attend professional networking events, industry led seminars/conferences/workshops and regularly take time out the business to concentrate on their own personal development
Outside of work, they;
have gym membership or regularly conduct some kind of sport or ‘keeping fit’ activity
most likely to have a pet(s), and enjoy more than one foreign holiday a year
own their own home, are a 2-3 car family and enjoy fine dining, and good company
are dedicated to their work, but take their family extremely seriously and have a goal to achieve which is family orientated
Now I’m not saying…
If your less than 28 or more than 49 we won’t work with you! Nor am I saying if you haven’t got a team of 5 and work in the professional services industry your not for us. But if you ask me who our IDEAL target clients are, the majority of them fit into this bracket.
We know we do EXCEPTIONAL work for these people, who in turn love who we are and what we do for them. And its that point I’m trying to make. Unless you know WHO your IDEAL target clients are, your going to continue to peddle the hamster wheel trying to flog stuff to people in hope they buy from you!
Ignore all the BAD things you’ve heard about Cambridge Analytica and the appalling way in which they manipulated people’s decision making. Look at HOW they were able to do this. They openly admitted to having approx. 5000 data points (pieces of information) on EVERY adult in America! It was well over 10 years ago now, when I was challenged quite significantly by a large number of fellow armed forces veterans in an online veterans community when I said that WW3 will be determined by the touch of a button!
The amount of ridicule and slander I received for being ‘out of touch’ and that the America ‘StarWars’ project was no longer the biggest threat in the world. Until I calmly replied
But that’s not the button.
I have believed for a long time now, (and the CA scandal is proof of this) that countries will fall when Data supremacy is able to influence and manipulate the masses to cause up rising, riots and political discord.
The simple answer to all of this, is until you have a very clear, accurate and detailed picture as to exactly WHO is your IDEAL target client. Until you REALLY get to know in far more detail than your likely to be collecting at present, until you KNOW them, you’ll never know if they are in the room or dining out with your competitor!
We have a great exercise you can do to help you start to identify WHO your ideal target client is. Drop me a message and I’ll send you a copy.
Furthermore, if you REALLY want to get into this in a big way (without becoming the next DATA scandal) we are members of the Koogar Academy, within which is an INCREDIBLE downloadable tool which is our SECRET SAUCE for understanding the psychographics of our Ideal Target Client.
It all began back in 2011, I’d been running my Health & Safety Consultancy for a few years, and we’d been steadily (well, quite aggressively growing) continuous for the duration of my ownership.
(On average we recruited a new F/T member of staff every 14 weeks consistently for 4 years)
I’d always been a member of the Federation of Small Businesses, and I was approached by our Regional Chairman and asked if I’d speak at the Annual National Conference for which our Region was hosting that year?
Very humbled to have been asked, I was a little uncertain as to why they might want me to present, as I hadn’t considered for one minute we were any different to every other Small Business Owner on the high street. It wasn’t until Simon advised me, MOST of the local members had been trading for far longer than us, and still hadn’t seen anything like the growth we were enjoying, and that it was VERY important that I shared details of how we had been so successful!
Somewhat nervously, I took to the stage and presented ‘Our story’ (which has subsequently gone on and evolved to become both my award winning ‘Get BIG or go home’ Keynote and a Masterclass of the same name!).
On leaving stage, both Simon and 1 or 2 of the other committee members congratulated me on the presentation, and advised they felt the content I’d delivered was “So powerful” they would like to nominate me for an award? I was flattered by the response, and gratefully agreed for my details to be entered.
Weeks later, I received an email from the Kaufman Institute of Entrepreneurship in the US. Congratulating me on being a FINALIST in the category Global Entrepreneur ‘Big Impact to Business’. I was invited to travel to the States to be apart of the awards ceremony, and whilst at my own cost, readily agreed.
The room was filled with well over 700 other finalists from all over the world, and as each category was read out, the stage quickly filled with business owners who were being recognized for their contribution to their industry/sector.
I was so taken aback when MY name was called as Winner of a ‘Big Impact to Business’ Award for my keynote at the FSB conference, I almost forgot to get up and approach stage! However on doing so, was presented with a Glass trophy, a cheque (to the value of $5,000) and anointed the title Global Award Winner.
Elated I exited stage and reached for my phone!
Within minutes of reaching my seat, I had updated my Website, My LinkedIn Profile, My Twitter and Facebook Account, and was in the process of creating a Google Ad’s campaign to tell the world of my recent win!
The final box before I clicked SEND was asking for a BUDGET for the campaign, and (having re-checked the value of the cheque) Committed $5000 to be spent over the next 4 weeks!
5 Weeks after I returned to the UK and I received an overseas call very early one Tuesday morning. “Mr. Allen” the caller enquired “Yes” I responded.
“I’m calling from the Kaufman Institute in the States in regard to your website”
“Oh” I replied “Is there a problem?…..You had said it was ok for me to publicise my win on the internet” I said reassuringly.
“We also need to talk about your Social Media profiles, Mr. Allen” The caller continued
“I’m sorry, is there a problem?” I replied
“Yes. We have had it brought to our attention that your website, your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles are all ranking HIGHER than our website on the first page of Google. In fact, you have pushed our page below the crease, and we need to understand what you have done?” the voice stated
“I guess you don’t spend more than $5000 a month of Pay Per Click advertising?” I stated
“I’m sorry” the called replied, somewhat in disbelief “Why would you do that?”
“Because I’m grateful of winning the award, and want the whole world to know of my success. I’m going to convert that $5000 into at least $20,000 in sales” I stated confidently.
“I’m pleased to tell you, your website will soon be ranking as first again, as I have no intent of spending that money again, and the PPC will soon run out and my pages shall slowly descend in ranking again”
“Best of luck with that” the caller said “Let me know how you get on” before hanging up
10 months later I made a call to the Kaufman institute to advise them that since the win, and the $5000 investment in PPC advertising, I had converted over £174,000 in new business, not only from across the UK but from across the world.
The Kaufman Institute were SO impressed with my success, THEY invited (and paid) for me to return the following year as a speaker AT the awards ceremony and share will ALL the other finalists HOW to commercialise an award!
Since then, we have won the same award again, and been listed on the UK ‘Clear Business Thinking’ POWER 100; as well as helped numerous clients win Regional, National even International awards within their own category of expertise. This includes no less than 7 clients being finalists on the Entrepreneur of the Year competition at which 3 were winners within their category.
I cannot begin to tell you the IMPORTANCE of Awards within business. Whilst qualifications and experience can be earned, to be measured by your industry against your peers and be nominated and voted a winner amongst them is the BIGGEST opportunity for PR, Marketing and Transforming your business to an AWARD-WINNING Business!
Read our five top tips on how to write a winning award entry below:
CHOOSE YOUR AWARD-WINNING PROJECT
You may wish to enter awards for your whole business, but if you have a high performing and innovative project then why not win some awards for that too?
Perhaps you’ve collaborated with another business and your business has grown because of it. Winning an award for the collaboration or partnership could strengthen your relationship further and lead to new relationships.
You should be aware however; most awards criteria will usually only consider projects or initiatives that have been live for at least year so make sure you check that criteria out!
CREATE A WINNING AWARDS STRATEGY
Once you’ve decided on the project you want to win awards for you can begin your winning awards strategy.
At this stage, if you don’t get expert help, a quick Google of awards for your industry should give you a good starting point in your research. The Chamber Business Awards welcome entries from all business sectors so this is a great place to start.
Next, look to your competitors. Which awards have they been winning or shortlisted for? Winning awards is all about making yourself stand out in your industry as the market leader.
Creating an awards strategy is the first step to success as it makes sure you are in the right race in the first place! Planning which awards and categories to enter this year is vital for your awards journey and makes your efforts more likely to bring you those valuable wins.
FOLLOW THE CRITERIA TO THE LETTER
Now that you’ve decided on the project, the award, and the category to enter it’s time to tackle writing your award entry.
Each category will have set criteria which you need to address. If you follow the criteria to the letter, answering each point concisely and clearly, you will be giving yourself the best chance with the judges.
Here is the format we tend to follow:
As each business strives to achieve stand out in an increasingly difficult and changing market, awards set a company apart from competitors and differentiates the quality of its achievements from others.
Awards can make you and your products/services more visible. They can attract new customers and potential investors by giving an organisation an edge over its competitors.
Awards speak volumes about a business and services and provide third party endorsement of your achievements. Being nominated or shortlisted can be helpful because it places you at the forefront of your genre and industry.
Being shortlisted or wining an award serves as testament to a company’s work ethic, dedication and unique speciality. The award attracts further custom from area’s you may not have initially considered who will be more likely to consider a company for work over another if it has won an award. It also serves to reinforcing the loyalty of existing customers.
Make the judges’ job as easy as possible and you’re going to score highly, but don’t forget to connect with them emotionally with your story too. By following the criteria closely your entry will be well-structured, easy to follow and will score you plenty of points.
MAKE YOUR CLAIM… THEN BACK IT UP
If you tell the judges that your employees are the happiest, they’ve ever been, prove it!
Use reports, graphs, or images to evidence your claims preferably within the body of your entry, or in a supporting document. The format of award entries varies which will impact on how you present your evidence – but that’s no excuse to leave it out!
Check the format of award entries with the award organisers. Most online entry forms require you to submit a supporting document when you are adding media files. Whereas others allow you to insert images, graphs, photos, and videos into the body of the text.
PROOF READ YOUR WAY TO PERFECTION
So, you’ve worked through each step and you finally have your award entry written, but this is by no means the version you submit. Now you must proofread and edit your award entry.
Let your award entry (and yourself) rest before picking it up to proofread. You will be able to pick up on mistakes much easier with a clear head and a bit of distance.
Now that you’ve proofread your entry, it’s time to pass it to a colleague, friend or family member to check for clarity, errors and omissions. When you’ve worked on a piece of writing for so long you can no longer be objective about its impact because you know what you mean, but the judges might not!
Entering awards requires time and effort but the benefits of winning an award are immeasurable. Give yourself the best chance of winning by following these top tips on how to write a winning award entry. Good luck, and keep us posted so we can help you celebrate your success. Consider the benefits and the positive impact awards can have on employees, existing customers, prospects and the company itself, it can be hugely important to make submission for awards a critical part of your current and future marketing strategy.
IT’S TIME TO START WINNING AWARDS…
Drop a comment below and let me know the biggest learning you have taken from this article?…
I’m a huge advocate for sharing the real essentials with other business owners to help and empower them achieve their Big Fat Hairy Audacious Goals!
One of the ways I do this is agree to be interviewed by podcasters, YouTubers, and others with a client base of business owners. Here, I was interviewed by one of our existing Explorer Mastermind clients – Amanda Daniels from Koogar Integrated Marketing.
New Versus Old, the 8 Fundamentals to sustainable scale!
Whilst the traditional model of forming and growing a business still exists, it has to be recognised that the birth of the internet, social media and electronic payment options has enabled a new form of business to emerge.
One that is faster, slicker, more profitable, less time consuming and requires far less resource to enable an extortionate amount of money to be made!
However, in BOTH models there are still far too many either going broke or GROWING broke! and that’s simply because there are 8 fundamental lessons that have to be learned and considered in order to create a SUSTAINABLE business that can scale!
Here at My TrueNORTH we help business owners from both the old and new to ADD A ZERO to both their turnover and personal disposable income!
Vision, Values, Purpose, Mission
You need to have clarification on exactly what you want the business to achieve, what is SUCCESS? You also need to have a clear clarity of the values you and your business wish to be known for. It’s far more important these days than ever before to have a clear purpose, and then to write a mission statement which supports all of these, to which you run your business.
Mindset & Motivation
This is often the biggest hurdle to scaling any business! The lack of clarity in the mindset of the owner, and sufficient motivation to implement and adhere to the plan in order to do what is required to achieve the goals you have set yourself.
Strategy & Structure
A business strategy should only be considered once the mission is clear, therefore it can be determined HOW you’re going to achieve it. The structure of the business will support the strategy to achieve the mission.
Clarity on WHO is your TARGET market is often overlooked in favour of selling to anyone, yet this is completely the wrong strategy if you wish to SCALE.
Money and Margins
It’s just as easy to GROW broke as it is to GO broke. Too many people fail to understand running ANY business is often based on one dashboard which carefully and in real time monitors the NUMBERS in the business. Get it right and you can fly, get it wrong and your heading for unemployment.
Sales and Negotiation
Being able to convert enquiries and how to negotiate the best deal for both you and the client is key to ensuring no money is left on the table.
Delivery and Customer Service
So many people concentrate on continually winning new clients, as opposed to spending more time and effort looking after their current clients, which is actually key to SCALE!
Getting the right team in place early is another key to scale. Yet to many business owners still get caught out with the ‘they can’t do it as well as me’ misconception!
Whilst there are a gzillion books out there regarding BUSINESS SUCCESS, we opted to adopt a slightly different viewpoint, and have studied businesses that FAIL! You see, there is SO much more you can learn from a business that has previously been doing well and making good progress, that subsequently failed, than there is from one which continues to make great progress. I love the quote:
EVERYONE should make MANY mistakes. However only a fool makes the same one twice!
As it clearly shows we have MUCH to learn from the mistakes people make, in order NOT to make the sames ones again! We’ve therefore studies well over 100 businesses that had made a name for themselves, only for SOMETHING to happen, resulting in failure. From this we have learnt the fundamental mistakes made by SO MANY businesses, and devised a method to help you avoid them!
Want some help to understand more about how you and your business stack up against this 8 segment scale process? Email Iwantto@ADDAZERO.co.uk to ask about our FREE SCALE AUDIT
Despite having a great CRM, with everyone details it’s never quite as simple as dropping an email or picking up the phone.
Since a number of our clients recently moved up into our Explorer Mastermind group, it has left a ‘void’ in our JSO Mini-Mastermind group which has yet to be filled. I recall getting people to join this group was relatively easy, we spent an email inviting them to join us, we included details about all the added benefits attendee’s would leave with and gave them a clear method of reserving their seat.
However, one year on, and people have become more particular as to HOW they wish to be communicated with. I’ve seen a number of business owners SWITCH OFF their Facebook account advising ‘It’s become too much of a distraction‘
And likewise, I receive more, auto-responders from email these days than ever before as people more away from being bombarded with STUFF!
In order to get our message to as large an audience as we wanted and to get a good open, click through rate, we’ve had to incorporate Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Skype Messenger, Linkedin, alongside email, letters and the telephone!
My point here is just because email is EASY doesn’t make it RIGHT!
When we talk about touch points, we actually have to have touched them, not their overflowing inbox, and more importantly not only do we need to have touched them, but touched them in the right way as to make a meaningful and lasting impression, which over time helps build and maintain that KNOW, LIKE, TRUST relationship we require in order to continue being one of the IN crowd, and not just another pesky salesman!
So what are YOU doing to maintain the RIGHT relationship with your prospects AND customers, how do you measure the response of those touch points to determine IF and WHEN they are ready to progress the relationship, and what do you have in reserve for those times when you need something special to bring things back onto course, when that little thing called LIFE gets in the way!
Smith & Williamson is one of the UK’s leading financial groups. Their Power 100 is created in conjunction with Fresh Business Thinking and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards to providing information and advice and help business owners and entrepreneurs run their businesses more effectively and efficiently.
Guy Rigby, Head of Entrepreneurial Services at Smith & Williamson, said:
“Our Power 100 celebrates those who use their experience or expertise to provide vital support to help inspire, mentor, connect and professionalise the UK’s up-and-coming businesses. Without these types of individuals, many brands that are household names today would simply not exist – they are critical to the wellbeing of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
From start-ups to scale-ups, the Smith & Williamson Power 100 celebrates those who help shape policy, champion, mentor, support and promote entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship across the country.
While 2016 saw names like Sir Richard Branson, Baroness Karen Brady CBE and Baroness Martha Lane-Fox recognised for their contribution to championing the entrepreneurial cause, 2017 sees the introduction of an entirely new cohort, who have been nominated by their peers.
I’m both exceptionally proud and most humbled to have been recognised in the Smith and Williamson Power 100 2017 for the work we do here at My TrueNORTH. It’s a great privilege to be a coach, to build sufficient rapport with someone in order to become their confidant, their go-to person both in terms of when things are a struggle and when things are going well.
Whether it’s a pat on the back for a job well done, or a kick up the bum as a reminder for a job still to do! We’re dedicated to the significant and sustainable growth of business owners and their businesses.