Why you should pigeonhole yourself as a professional services provider

Want to be choosy about who you work with? Well this is the place to start.

Most expert service providers are marketing themselves too broadly which causes them to attract a wide range of clients and take on projects just to pay the bills.

Now broad targeting isn’t necessarily a bad option at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, but once you’ve identified where you can deliver the most value, it’s important to be more focused with your positioning to maximise profitability.

When your positioning is focused, you’re able to gain more control of the situation and attract the clients you want to work with the most.

What is positioning?

Positioning is all about context. When people encounter your business for the first time, they will look for context to determine what you’re offering, who it’s for, and why they should care. Now this can happen on a subconscious level, but it’s still an important thing to consider.

Your positioning can also be described as where you fit in the market in comparison to other offerings which solve the same client problem.

People tend to worry about being too specific with their offering and defining who it’s for because they believe it will lead to less opportunity.

When in fact the opposite is true. When you actively target a segment of the market where you have a strong advantage, you become the obvious choice for that target market. This makes your marketing messaging much more compelling and effective.

Why you should be deliberate about your positioning

Without making a decision about who we’re targeting and how we want to be perceived, how can we expect to attract the clients we want to work with?

When it comes to positioning your business, it’s important to put yourself in a pigeonhole so to speak. You should deliberately position your offering in the best context possible, and this really comes down to which type of person values an offering like yours the most.

Only until you make the decision to provide a specific offering to a select target market will you be able to reverse engineer your offering and messaging to reflect their situation and needs.

By actively deciding the details of your offering and who it’s for, you provide that context for people upfront and prevent them from having to figure out the value you provide.

Position yourself or be positioned

If you're not deliberate about your positioning, people will position you in their minds as something anyway. And this is not ideal because you may be positioned in a way that is unfavourable.

It's much better to take control of the situation and make a decision about how you want to be perceived. Once you have determined this, it’s important to use the same key messaging across your marketing materials and with your client interactions.

So when you meet new prospects, it’s important to be able to clearly communicate what you do, the value of your offering, and how you are different from competitors.

Now a potential client might not actually need your services there and then, but by pigeonholing yourself, you make it easy for people to remember what you do if they do come to need services like yours.

How to position your expert service business

The key thing to remember is we want to position ourselves in the best context possible. This involves focusing on the main benefits you provide to clients and highlighting the unique aspects of your offering.

So in terms of how to approach your positioning, focus on three elements, who your service is for, the outcome it delivers, and the main advantage it has over the competition.

The first part of this is important because potential clients should be able to recognise themselves in your messaging so they know your offering is specifically for them.

The second part is important because clients only care about results. Avoid only talking about the category of services you provide such as ‘sales training’. Focus on what sales training enables for the end client, for example: ‘increases confidence and improves your ability to close new business’.

And finally, it's important to disqualify competitive alternatives. This demonstrates that your offering is superior and the best choice for potential clients.

In addition, when you nail these three components and are able to recite the key messages from memory, it actually helps people refer others to your business. This is because they know exactly which types of people you can help and the outcome you enable for them.

Conclusion and action point

To conclude, if you do not brand and position your offering effectively, you dampen the impact of your marketing efforts. As a result, this reduces your chances of working with the clients you really want.

So avoid the common mistake service providers make by not being intentional enough with their positioning.

Your action point for today is to look at your marketing materials objectively and consider how your offering is positioned relative to the competition. Are you playing to your key strengths? Would your target market be able to recognise themselves in your messaging? And are the end benefits of the offering clear?