By Wes Fang, Vice Chair of the Financial Practice

Anyone who’s trying to grow a business can tell you it’s tough to go big, and in a saturated marketplace standing out from the crowd is harder than ever.  How can you differentiate yourself from the pack of similar companies offering similar goods or services? Many times, entrepreneurs will try to out-do their competition by offering more or selling for less, but that’s a race to the bottom. Inevitably your product or service will suffer, and your customers will look elsewhere.

Here’s a suggestion; instead of trying to be all things to all potential buyers, offer the right thing to the right buyer. The phrase “finding riches in the niches” describes how smart entrepreneurs are succeeding in crowded industries by narrowing their focus to their special area of expertise, and reaping sales by concentrating their efforts on a smaller, more well-defined demographic.

Realtor, developer, and author Mark Deutschmann is a stellar example of putting this philosophy to work. Mark joined me for a recent podcast, and described how he moved to Nashville and got into real estate sales. Once there, he stumbled on a little community called Hillsboro Village, a neighborhood commercial district where he connected with the merchants and neighborhood association. When houses were about to come onto the market, he often heard about it first – and found himself becoming the expert on local home sales.

“As it evolved, when people asked me what I did, I would tell them “I sell real estate within a one-mile radius in Hillsboro Village,” – and it started catching on and I started selling more homes.” He quickly realized that, “When people asked me what I did, and I told them, “I’m a real estate agent”, it wasn’t much of a conversation point” – but when he told them about his focus on Hillsboro Village, they were intrigued and wanted to know more.  Suddenly he was the go-to guy for the area; the specialist who knew all the houses and where the bargains were. He’d found his niche – and his unique selling proposition. Now, his company Village Real Estate employs over 250 agents and staff, and Mark and his team at Core Development Services develop housing in emerging communities.

What’s your expertise? If you’re not sure, you need to define it. Imagine a target and at its bullseye those 1,000 people you want to sell to. Create an avatar for those ideal customers: How old are they? How much do they make, and in what kind of job? Kids, or no kids? What do they like to do on weekends? When you focus your efforts on reaching that specific person – on hitting the bullseye – you may not hit it every time, but you’ll certainly hit it more often than the person taking the “pray and spray” approach to the target.

Becoming the expert makes you stand out from your competitors, and makes it more likely that you’ll be the first person your ideal customer thinks of when they’re ready to buy.

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