In 2018, informed business leaders have a multitude of current issues and future challenges to be concerned about. Whether in the short or long term, they must turn their attention to matters such as technology and artificial intelligence, participating in a global market, harnessing the attitudes and skills of future/successor generations and being positioned and prepared to take advantage of emerging trends that can become game changers in their industries. 

But even though there are so many important topics to address, time and again research studies indicate that one subject that is always on the mind of a business leader is marketing communications. Without a consistent go-to-market approach, no company can survive for long.

What is your “one thing”?

No matter what sector an organization is in, ranging from retail, manufacturing, real estate, construction, healthcare, hospitality or nonprofit to professional services, sustaining success is often dependent on differentiating the company from its most likely competitors.

That’s why it is essential to note that when drafting a marketing communications plan the place to begin is by defining the business’ unique selling proposition. That is, what is the one thing that this company does that it can put forth as its area of deep expertise, the one thing it does that has earned it the right to say that it is a leader.  In Good to Great, author Jim Collins describes the Hedgehog Concept. He explains that every company has three circles that define it: passion, talent and economic engine. The first circle represents the products or services that drive revenue (the economic engine). The second circle represents the products and services that you are intensely excited and proud to deliver (passion). And the third circle is for those things that you deliver better than any of your competitors (talent).    Whenever those three circles intersect, you have identified the one thing that defines you as a thought leader and which can lead to profitability.

Without asserting your unique selling proposition (USP) it is incredibly difficult to enjoy a truly significant footprint in a crowded and competitive market. But when you have an approach that stands out, you can distinguish yourself from all others and adjust your marketing strategy to target the specific audience you seek based on your one thing expertise.

How do you build a plan around your “one thing”?

When the company has defined its USP, it is much easier to create a blueprint for growth in that select area. By conducting an analysis of your niche market, you will have a better snapshot of:

  • Your competitors
  • Your allies
  • Your end users

With this as a basis, you can begin to purposefully build your skills and acquire the knowledge in this space that you will need in order to be recognized as the thought leader, the expert, the go-to company offering distinctive products or services as your one thing.

Turning thought leadership into profitability and growth

Attracting and retaining loyal clients or customers is crucial to ensuring a company’s lasting legacy. The more you know about the current and prospective customers’ issues,  the more immersed you are in their world, then the more solutions you can offer and therefore, the more likely it is that they will be motivated to seek you out - based on the reputation you have earned for excellent solutions in this niche.

Today’s consumer is growing increasingly sophisticated, supported in part by easy access to critical and timely information. As a result the idea of a being a generalist is rapidly being replaced by the measurable value of a specialist. No industry or profession is immune to the marketing and sales power of being deemed as the renowned expert for your one thing. Physicians (whose patients often come in armed with WebMD data), attorneys, retailers, engineers, restaurant owners, bankers, nonprofit leaders and consultants are all expected to have acquired a unique body of knowledge that sets them apart from all the others.  Remember though, your marketing message is not just for the purpose of engaging future clients. Your existing clients and customers also want to reaffirm their choice. They have gone through the process of selecting your company or firm, but to enjoy high retention rates and repeat customers, you need to be able to keep their confidence and consistently remind them of your skills and your expert status. Never forget that they need to believe that you are the most competent in the field and you can do the one thing they need better than any other competitor.        

Of course to establish a believable presence as a specialist you will have to invest your time and effort. This may include blogging or other social media posts on topics that are meaningful to this audience, authoring articles, speaking at trade and business conferences, being quoted by the media and forming strategic partnerships with other well-known leaders who serve the same market.  Integrating all of these activities into one collective effort supports your reputation as the recognized authority in the area.

Marketing and sales prevail in a niche environment

Having determined that sales and marketing are the life blood of any business, large or small, across any industry, then it is common sense to agree that the more you concentrate on a unique space, committing resources and learning to developing a specialty, the more you can leverage your marketing to promote your one thing.

The formula is simple: The more you narrow the scope of your services and products, the more you actually expand your opportunities for sales and growth.  The more laser-like your approach is, the more vital support you can offer to your audiences and the more sought after you will be.