In fact such is the appeal, that industry specialists are often able to command higher fees and draw a very loyal customer base. So, if you think you or your business could harness additional benefit by becoming an expert or a specialist provider to a particular industry, here are some tips to help you…
Which industry sector?
Consider which industry sectors…
- Suit your commercial offering best
- Aren’t served or served well by your competitors
- Offer greatest potential given current and changing practices, fresh legislation, technological, economic or social issues etc affecting them
- Naturally interest you – you will find it an uphill battle specialising in an industry which doesn’t appeal to you personally
From this, draw up a short list and prioritise those industries where you have customers already and a small track-record to build on. For other industries which appeal, but are new to you, look at contacts linked to your business who could help shorten your learning curve and make your entry into the market easier. It is costly, both in time and money, to launch into a new sector and the more help and support you can secure in the process the more successful you’ll be.
Never stop learning
To really excel at industry specialisation, you need to have your finger on the pulse of everything that is happening in that sector. The more you know the greater your chances of building credibility and creating tailored offerings which position you as an industry expert. So immerse yourself in the sector to amass valuable knowledge, meet useful contacts and spot potential leads. Think of:
- Attending the industry trade events such as exhibitions, conferences and seminars
- Supporting or volunteering with relevant trade bodies in the sector
- Reading the key trade press in that sector
- Following the key players (both suppliers to the industry and those within it) on social media
- Joining communities and smaller interest groups within the industry on social media – or better still face-to-face
Use the insight you glean to spot trends and tailor what you do to be more relevant and specific to the challenges and opportunities that people/businesses in that industry face. Obviously things will change in a sector and it’s important to make an ongoing commitment to continue to follow developments. Even when people recognise you as an industry expert, there’s still plenty more for you to learn.
Highlighting your industry specialisation
- Writing articles and blogs for yours and other noteworthy sites in the sector
- Being visible on the social media networks popular with the industry sector (and particularly with potential customer decision-makers and influencers)
- Writing or giving commentary for press articles or interviews
- Recording and sharing podcasts on specific topics
- Signing up to sector speaking opportunities – seminars, workshops, conferences
- Recording and sharing videos on specific topics
- Hosting and sponsoring events in the sector
- Going for supplier-related awards in the sector
How to appeal
In selecting your communications channels, it’s important that you don’t use them to blatantly sell. This won’t appeal to potential customers and influencers. Instead ensure you build a reputation of being an authority on a number of issues affecting the industry and offering solutions or support.
People are drawn to those who help them make sense of, or create solutions to improve, what they do. As someone objectively viewing the sector, you will be in a great position to spot and comment on trends, make sense of positive and negative issues and signpost remedies and opportunities.
Above all, demonstrate your interest and passion for the industry and you’ll soon draw a loyal following.
When reviewing your business growth strategies, it is worth considering the value industry specialisation could bring. In many cases it can often secure a better return on investment than a generalist approach, as it enables you to focus your time, effort and money more effectively. Done well you can soon find your business is a big fish in a small pond and thoroughly outshining the competition.