This past weekend, I was in Santiago de Chile at a vegetable market. There were about 20 vendors and they were all selling the same produce: corn, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, etc. All the vendors looked the same to me. Not only did they all sell the same stuff, they all used the same kind of signs to display their prices (yes, their prices were all the same too). As I walked along their stands, they all claimed to have the freshest and best produce – at the best price.
When every vendor looks the same and carries the same products as everyone else, how can one choose whom to buy veggies from?
In the same way that I had trouble selecting one vendor to buy from, your potential clients might be having trouble selecting you over your competition.
One solution to help you stand out is to specialize
When you specialize, you focus on one (and only one) element and go deep into it. This element must be specific and tangible. None of that “freshest and best”: everybody can claim those subjective measures, plus, they are not immediately obvious to the client.
A specific and tangible element would be one kind of product, or one way of solving a problem, or even one kind of client.
But, what exactly do you gain by specializing?
Specializing helps you to stand out, to be different than the rest of your competitors
Being different makes it easier to explain to potential clients why they should choose you over someone else. Specializing helps you to be remembered, and to be respected as an authority who knows a lot about that specialty.
Some agents have said to me that specializing sounds like the right thing to do – in theory. But it’s hard to know where to start. So, where do you start to specialize?
To be a specialist, you can start by selecting something specific and tangible to specialize in
Notice that the key word is “selecting”. Just pick something. Once you pick, then work hard on going deep into that subject. If you choose to go deep into a kind of product, then learn everything you can about it. If you choose to go deep into a type of client that you want to help, then learn as much as possible about what that client needs.
You will find that, once you start learning the subject of your specialty in great depth, you’ll be an expert and you will be able to explain to potential clients why your approach is different. And it will be obvious and clear to them that you are, indeed, different and memorable.
Once you have chosen to specialize, don’t forget to tell the world about it
Tell the world over, and over and over. Very soon, your potential clients will think of you when they need someone like you.
Let’s see how to specialize using the example of the veggie market:
“The Carrot Guy” Example
During my trip to the market, if I had been planning on buying carrots, and I were to find a vendor who specialized in carrots, I would be instantly attracted to him.
Let’s call this fictitious vendor “The Carrot Guy”.
The Carrot Guy specializes in selling (you guessed it!): carrots.
Yup, he sells the same kind of carrots as every other vendor in the market.
But what makes The Carrot Guy a carrot specialist is that he can tell you which kinds of carrots are best for eating raw, which are best for baking carrot bread, and which are best for stir-frying.
He also sells baby carrots, albino carrots and purple carrots. He can tell you which are sweeter and which are juicier. He also sells carrot recipe books, carrot peelers, carrot julienners. He even sells freshly baked carrot bread and freshly made carrot juice.
Maybe we’ll make him wear a white apron with a big orange carrot on the front of it too.
Now you see how The Carrot Guy is a specialist?
How does this apply to the rest of us?
Just like the carrot guy, when we sell the same stuff as everyone else in the market, we need to find a way to specialize in order to stand out.
But some people worry that once they specialize, they might lose all their other business
However, specializing doesn’t mean the loss of the other business. Let’s use again the example of The Carrot Guy:
Even though he specializes in selling carrots, that doesn’t mean that he can only sell carrots. On the contrary, aside from the carrots, he could choose to carry what everybody else has too.
And when clients get attracted to his stand to buy carrots, they might as well pick up the rest of their produce there. Of course, he could also promote the other veggies as complementary to carrots and give them an extra push.
For example, the carrot and zucchini salad that he’s featuring today needs carrots and… “the best zucchini to go with this specific kind of salad-perfect carrots”.
Do you see now how a specialty can even help sell the other products?
In real life, most of us don’t sell veggies at the market. But, truthfully, we aren’t that different from the vendors at the market: we all sell the same stuff as our competition.
If we want to stand out in our market, one way to do it is to specialize. Specializing requires selecting a tangible, objective element of our business and going deep into it.
But don’t worry, selecting one element doesn’t preclude you from selling the rest of your stuff – it’s simply a way to focus your marketing efforts.
By focusing you stand out from the competition, attract more clients, and ultimately sell more stuff.
Can you think of a way in which you can specialize?
Post your idea below and we can brainstorm together…