Hey! I hope you're doing well, surviving (hopefully thriving during) a very "interesting" 2020. I had a good 2 weeks of staycation/writing retreat. I'm grateful only 3 of you phoned 911 to have the cops do wellness checks on me (kidding; 1 person wrote to ask if I was OK. Thank you!). This book project is kicking my ass, so I switched gears a bit and went for the smaller win to build momentum. I spent about 4 full days writing Specializing and Positioning an Independent Consulting Business: /specializing-and-positioning-an-independent-consulting-business/ It's a comprehensive guide on how to specialize/position an independent consulting business. It's a brand marketing gift. If it provides value, that value will come from its relevance to the intended audience and the generosity of intent and effort that went into writing it. If it spreads, it will be because it's good enough to spread by word of mouth. If it creates impact, there won't be an opt-in gate between you and that potential impact. And if it helps me build moment and focus to get this book done, it'll be because the guide is a miniature scale model of the book's structure and content. That'll be helpful because I found myself getting lost in the wild garden of the book's content, so creating what is essentially a condensed version of the core of the book might be a good beachhead. The guide is a ~45-minute read, and again, you can find it here: /specializing-and-positioning-an-independent-consulting-business/
Events of Note
There is a Venn diagram overlap between two things: 1) I want to get my hours in practicing live talks and 2) I need to build out the free public curriculum for The Expertise Incubator. There's a half-assed, half-done TEI curriculum here, but I have a vision for something better. My vision for the TEI curriculum is based heavily on this: https://www.startupschool.org/curriculum They published live talks as curriculum; why can't I? It's a pandemic year, so IRL talks aren't an option, but I've got the equipment and bandwidth to do it online, and so I will. I'm starting a talk series where each week (Thur or Fri) I'll deliver a lesson from the TEI curriculum. I'll get that started mid-September, but in the meantime you can see the schedule of events here: https://www.mixily.com/listing/6423681705591831629. From that page, you can either RSVP or simply add reminders to your calendar without registering for anything. The talks will be streamed to Twitch and YouTube, and you can pepper me with questions during them via chat. Most of you will ignore or not attend these. Ultimately, being ignored is the worst thing that can happed to marketing, but in the very short term when you're building new skill, practicing publicly in a low stakes environment can be good. A Twitch channel with a few people watching and a fewer brave souls chatting is just such a low stakes environment. Eventually, when the rest of you realize you're missing out on free world-class education and inspiration, you'll join in.
Don't be a square. ;) Again, that schedule of events: https://www.mixily.com/listing/6423681705591831629 I'll end with an answer to a client question.
A Q&A that might be relevant to those who provide positioning advice
Q: Do you think asking questions and letting the client figure out the positioning is better than offering it as a service and doing it yourself? My A: Context: I believe the hardest part of specializing in a way that allows you to build up a great market position is the emotional part of it, not the strategy part of it. Many of us run businesses that were born in the cradle of scarcity, and so we naturally resist things that seem like they could reduce our opportunity or variety. And if our businesses weren't born in the cradle of scarcity, they have spent some significant period of time in a desert of scarcity, which leaves the same "mark" on our thinking and behavior. I believe that specializing makes life easier in the way that going on a restrictive diet makes life easier for someone with heart disease: short term not-fun, but without the restriction, there may not be a long term for that person to enjoy. A tow truck driver was giving me a ride once. He used to work at Medtronics in the department that makes stents. He told me that way over 50% of cardiac patients will not change their lifestyle, even after a potentially-deadly heart issue like a heart attack or stroke. My takeaway from this and many other experiences: change that involves short-term discomfort is difficult for most of us humans. Many of us will resist it at the cost of our own lives. My thoughts on your question:
- The client has to WANT it. :) They have to want the results of specialization.
- It's not enough to just want it, they need to understand the process and what it will involve so that they are not surprised by normal parts of the process or discouraged by normal features of the landscape they are journeying through.
If those two things are in place, then you can use a variety of methods to help your clients successfully specialize. You can operate with a heavy or light touch, you can do it for them or facilitate them doing it themselves, or anything in between. A famous consultant told me in an interview I will publish one of these days that maybe 40% of his clients heed his advice and are successful as a result. That should tell you that the advice — and the way it's given — matters a lot less than the person receiving it. They have to want it. Unfortunately, just because any of us has been hired as an advisor doesn't mean our client actually wants to do the work of change. (The clients who do want to do that work make it all worth it. :) ) I'm not saying the clients you mentioned don't want it, but that is the place I'd begin diagnosing the issue. It could be your process, but it could be their motivation, level of education about the process, or something else related to them. -P