It has never been easier to find potential clients and partners. Social selling strategies can put your brand in front of the most unobtainable of prospects and then comes the judgement (which only takes a few seconds):
Can you add value?
Executives are making hundreds of judgement calls like this every week. Is it worth more than a cursory glance? How are they different from the rest? Believe me, there are a lot of people constituting the “rest.” How do they address my needs and how are they a fit for what I am trying to achieve?
The underlying requirement in all of these questions is simple:
Do you have the “right” expertise?
In a highly-competitive market, this is the only question that matters, and it is the main differentiating factor between two rivals. What can you bring to the party that the other guy can’t? This is where a focused approach is crucial.
If your expertise is an “inch wide and a mile deep”, yes, there will be fewer opportunities to engage with you, but when such an opportunity does arise, there will not be many people who will be as knowledgeable as you. At that moment in time, it doesn’t matter that you don’t offer a wide range of other services. All that matters is that you are going to do a fantastic job on this particular project.
Specialising in a well-defined niche and building a diverse client base who come to you for specific projects is (in my opinion) more effective than the scattergun approach of “we offer every service under the sun.”
Yes, the generalist guys will probably work with certain clients across many different areas, but is the quality of service really better than the specialist? Probably not. There is indeed an ease of working with the generalist, but if you are looking for market-leading excellence, then the niche player is your only option.
It takes a conscious decision to remain a niche player. It is so easy and oh-so-tempting to consider branching out into other areas and enjoying some of the low-hanging fruit, but then you immediately dilute your perceived value. When that busy MD is looking at your email, he only wants to see one thing:
Are you the absolute best at what you do?
Moving back to the jungle analogy of the title, it is an interesting comparison. Let’s consider the evolution of insects. There are insects who have learnt to blend in with their surroundings and stay still when predators are around. Other insects have bright colours and poison in their bodies to stop predators eating them. Yet others have bright colours (and no poison), but they understandably don’t get eaten either. There is no one insect that does all of these things. Nature isn’t stupid – specialisation means survival. The insects that can’t make up their minds and aren’t very good at any of these things get eaten first.
It is an interesting question to consider as we hear ever more stories about the coming economic difficulties.
Is your niche specialised enough? Will you survive, or will you be eaten?
As Darwin might have said, “Eat lunch, or be lunch.”