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Become an Expert

A few years ago, I asked one of my clients, Carrie, if she had started thinking about saving for college for her one-year-old daughter, Megan.

“It’s funny that you’re asking me this now,” Carrie replied, “Because I just recently sat down with a specialist in college planning.”

When Carrie told me the name of the company this financial advisor had come from, I chuckled to myself.  I knew there were no advisors in that company who were given any “special” training.

“What makes you say that this advisor was a specialist?” I asked her.  Carrie told me that he had set up a college savings program for a friend of hers, who had then referred him along to her and Megan.  She boasted about how knowledgeable and well-read he seemed on a plethora of issues having to do with raising a child.

“We talked about an article in [the local] Parent’s Magazine and he offered to recommend a pediatric dentist for Megan’s teething problem,” she reported.

Carrie hired this advisor because he was a specialist.

In my book, Become a Client Magnet, I talk about being the “Red Crayon”.  Most professionals are white crayons in a box filled with other white crayons—they are indistinguishable accountants or civil engineers or financial advisors.  Being the Red Crayon in your industry’s box immediately distinguishes you from all the other choices a prospective client has and makes it more likely that you’ll be chosen for the job.

One way to make yourself a Red Crayon is to choose a specialty: a narrow target market to serve, or a specific type of service for which you can become the leading expert.

You can do this even if you’re already involved in a specialty in your field.  An orthopedic surgeon can become a “hand reconstruction” specialist, a labor lawyer can become a “non-compete” specialist, and a chiropractor can become a specialist in “cervical adjustments to lower blood pressure”.

If you’re not already a specialist now, become one.  The steps are this simple:

1. Declare your specialty. Concentrating your skills to work with one target or type of service doesn’t usually require exams, apprenticeships, licenses, or certifications.  There are few professional codes of conduct that could prohibit an accountant from “concentrating” on businesses owned by women, or stop an attorney from “limiting his practice” to a certain area of litigation.  There’s nothing wrong with focusing your efforts.

2. Walk the talk. Once you’ve made the declaration, develop the expertise.  Instead of trying to keep on top of dozens of areas in his profession, a Red Crayon will learn everything he can about his focus and find ways to serve his chosen market.  Carrie’s advisor read the same magazines his clients read and learned about their children’s developmental needs.  He became acutely aware of the local network of child-development specialists in other industries—dentists, doctors, and educators—thereby ranking himself among them.

3. Take the cases you enjoy. Branding yourself with an expertise actually enhances your Red Crayon status outside the area of your specialty.  People will tend to seek out an expert whether or not his/her focus is exactly what their situation calls for.  They’d rather have a specialist make an exception to work with them than have a mere commodity handle their case.  Stay focused on the market that makes you happiest, but if it also moves you, help these other clients whenever you wish.

If you want help becoming a Red Crayon to attract more business, contact me today.  Whatever you do, keep REACHING…


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