Saturday, March 5, 2011

Narrow Your Focus to Get More Referrals

  1. You bring more value to your niche prospects and clients. Niche prospects see the value more quickly and want to work with you. Niche clients experience your value and you become more referable.
  2. You can create a reputation more easily in a niche. Most niches/affinity groups have formal and informal ways of communicating with each other. The more referable you are (the value you bring) and the more they know you are targeting their niche, the easier it is to grow your reputation and get your phone ringing with great prospects.
  3. You can identify all the players. In many cases, it's easier to identify potential prospects in a niche. For instance, using today's internet search tools, you can easily identify all the owners of a business in a specific industry. You can identify all the high-level executives in a specific company.
Now back to the question.
While women in general may not be a very good niche, you can build a great business staying with woman, but being more specific. For instance, I have met several - very successful - financial professionals who have had great success targeting divorcees and widows. This is not ALL women, but a subset that usually have a great need for a good financial professional.
Because there are no associations or clubs (that I know of) for these women (maybe some support groups, however), it's a bit harder to identify and contact this type of prospect. If you're lucky enough to have a client of this type who belongs to some sort of organization that is populated by divorcees and/or widows, then you might be able to speak at some meetings, create some seminars, and write for their publications.
Another way to get more focused with this niche is with women business owners. There are many things I like about targeting women business owners. The main reason is that woman, in general, and business owners, in general, usually play the referral game more willingly and more frequently. I know of one successful financial professional in New York who says he averages 2.5 referrals per male client and 27 referrals per female client. Now that's some pretty good numbers.
Unlike widows and divorcees, it's much easier to identify your business-women prospects. There are many associations of woman business owners (like NAWBO - National Association of Woman Business Owners - they have local and regional chapters). In addition, they have many types of gatherings, events, publications, causes, etc., that you can leverage to build your reputation.
Many Kinds of Niches
Of course, there are many great niches. I've seen what I'd call "micro-niches" that can be great and even a fun way to build a business. Here are a few standard and creative niches:

1. Physicians
2. Surgeons
3. Dentists
4. Small Business Owners within a narrow industry group
5. Owners of Corvettes, Porches, BMWs, etc. (they have clubs)
6. Horse owners (they have clubs and associations)
7. Dentists that ride Harley Davidson Motor Cycles (Yep! They exist! A narrow and fun niche.)
8. Employees (or executives) within a certain large company in your area
9. Retired individuals from a specific company or industry
10. Teachers
11. Salespeople

Some Action Steps to Get Started
The 4th section in my new book, Get More Referrals Now!, I lay out an entire plan for how to leverage a niche. Here are just a couple of those tactics:
If you've been thinking about creating a niche to target, one way to start (among others) is to look at your existing client base. You may have 2-3 clients in the same grouping. Could this be the start of your niche? You may have a client with whom you really like the type of work you do. Could he/she the first member of your niche?
  1. Meet with some of these clients and tell them you are thinking about working with more clients like them. Compliment them by saying something like, "I really enjoy the type of work we've been doing and truly believe I can help other people like you. Can I take you to lunch to learn more about the association you belong to and if your industry (substitute words as necessary) might be a great match for my work?" These are informational interviews designed to help you understand the niche and how to approach it.
  2. When you ask these types of client for referrals, get them to think within the parameters of people like themselves. Let them know you are focusing on people like themselves. Ask if their group, club, association, ever brings in speakers. Do they have a newsletter you might contribute to from time to time?
If you want more referrals, simply target a niche or affinity group. If you're a veteran advisor, you may already have a kind of niche working and you just need to formalize your approach. If you're new in this business, going after a niche can be a great way to kick start your referrals.
Most financial professionals - and small business owners in general - are afraid to go after a niche. The fear is that if they just focus on this niche, they'll miss all the other opportunity. While they may miss other opportunities, they'll be so successful they will never notice.






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