Scoring Big with Small Domains: You can go small and get big.
Personal Branding means narrowing your audience from “just everyone” to the people most likely to respond to your message. It means remaining focused while your competition markets to everyone with a pulse.
But does this kind of specialization really work? Here’s proof that your domain – your target audience – doesn’t have to be big to make you serious money.
Case Study: Advising NFL Stars
Few financial professionals have chosen a niche as specialized – or as challenging –as Kenneth W. Ready. A 19-year industry veteran who works for Prudential Securities’ Denver office, Ready advises 50 National Football League players. (He doesn’t actively seek any other type of client.) His domain is a world of big salaries, short time horizons, and high expectations.
“When you niche market, you’ve increased your risk,” says Ready, who began working with pro athletes in 1992. “In a small market like this one, people all know each other. So if you screw up, everyone knows about it.” Many financial professionals hunger to break into this market; Ready knows it’s not automatic.
“Athletes care about service, about having someone they can trust to do things for them,” Ready says. With pro athletes virtually absent from daily life for up to six months at a time due to the demands of their careers, their advisors, brokers and accountants need to be able to handle all their day-to-day finances, a job which can be daunting. For a financial advisor, Ready notes, “working with one professional athlete is like working with 20-30 regular clients.”
Understandably, Ready declines to reveal the specific methods he uses to bring new athletes into the fold. However, he does say that his domain “chose him” when an athlete approached him about financial planning. That athlete referred a colleague, and the referral chain grew – built on a reputation and a strong Personal Brand.
No matter what domain you target, says Ready, you should “learn your market and know everything about the people. If you decide to work only with heart surgeons, you’d better know everything about the heart, including how many times a day it beats.”
Refine Your Focus, Use Your Imagination
What would you say if a colleague told you he was going to get rich on a roster of 50 clients? If it turned out they were all millionaires, you’d applaud. The point is, Ready is a perfect example of an independent professional relying on a small domain, the kind that emphasizes quality of client over quantity. You can do the same, with this fact in mind: the more niched your domain, the better your chances of dominating it.
When you’re looking at possible domains, unless one drops into your lap (the members of a country club to which you belong, for instance), it’s smart to look at groups tied to a particular career, a specific industry, or a particular lifestyle. If you feel like you can get to know this career/ industry/ lifestyle inside and out, and the domain is large enough to offer the revenue potential you need, putting your Personal Brand in front of that domain could be your key to real wealth. Possible audiences:
- Small apartment owners
- People who collect vintage automobiles
- Engineers with a specific specialty
- People in the film or television industries
- Mental health professionals
- Airline pilots
Explore All the Avenues
Ken Ready’s lesson is this: your perfect domain may be one you hadn’t even thought about, or even one just emerging – so you need to be open-minded and ready to start branding yourself when it arises. As you explore possible domains, understand that to get the most from a small, specialized domain, you’ll need to:
- Learn everything you can about your domain’s profession (or lifestyle)
- Learn how the people who work and live in it spend their time
- Find out their “pain,” or the prevailing problem they have
- Create and promote your leading attribute, showing that you can solve the problem
- Be “high touch” – available for personal communication and highly responsive
- Be prepared to reject business outside the domain, or to refer it to colleagues
Targeting a small domain may seem counterintuitive, but it can be the best way to “own” a lucrative business segment and get greater personal satisfaction from working with people you come to know well.
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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites MyOnlineCareerSpace.com and MyOnlineCareerCoach.com, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook.
“It is the responsibility of the individual to reject the prospect of mediocrity and to strive for the betterment of society as a whole” ~ Mark Montoya