Some businesses have the luxury of doing well by producing and marketing a generic, me-too product or service. This is because they have been doing the same thing over a very long time, and has developed a trusted customer base around that service. So as long as they maintain a good level of service, the customers will keep calling them.
But some of us don't have this luxury. We can't get excited about making a living by providing a me-too service. We want to do something that would make a huge difference; something that we are passionate about; work with some of the best in the world in our space and somehow make a living by doing that.
This calls for specialisation, and when you specialise, then you need to think differently about how you promote your services. This is because most people can't/won't understand how you can add value to their life.
For example, when I meet someone at a networking event, when they ask me what I do, and after I deliver my elevator pitch customised to the best of my ability to suit the person/situation ... if all they say is "that sounds interesting" ... then I know that person will never become a customer for me in a million years.
But here is something to watch out. Although the person you just spoke to is unlikely to become a customer, they can be connected to your ideal customer. So never under-estimate what a total stranger can do to your business.
Prospecting is not an easy task, it is time consuming and can be full of disappointments. It is like spreading heaps of seeds up and down the countryside, and hoping like hell that some will grow.
Instead, treat your service as a high value seed, and think of the conditions on the customer side that's required for your seed to germinate successfully.
As an example, under my Innovation Consulting service, I'm have designed an offering called "Trusted Intermediary".
This is where I act as a connector/cross-pollinator between an organisation and the innovation networks outside the organisation, both in New Zealand and around the world. For this seed to grow, I need the following conditions on the customer side.
1. A CEO who is driven to make the company one of the best in the world in their category.
2. If it's a large company, then the CEO has appointed an internal resource as the innovation manager/advisor as a direct report to her/him.
3. The CEO & the innovation manager/advisor understands the value of connecting to innovation networks outside the organisation.
4. The CEO and/or the innovation manager/advisor has a co-creation mindset, to work with me to design an engagement or proposition.
Unless I can see the above conditions on the customer side, I know that I will be very hard to get an engagement for my Trusted Intermediary offering.
So, what are the ideal conditions that you need from your customer side for your most valuable services?