Your-market-place-of-maximum-relevance: discover your niche

Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
by Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence on June 18, 2018
[PL] Twój obszar maksymalnej istotności rynkowej: proces odkrywania niszy autorstwa 5next
June 18, 2018
The Beatles teach successful rainmaking
July 7, 2018

This 10-minute read focuses on the importance of searching for a niche area to specialise in and how that supports you to become more referable. Please forward it to anyone you feel would benefit from reading this brand new writing on the subject of business development.

Further down I will explain how this supports you develop your business connections in the most time effective manner. It includes a basic 5 step process as to how you might identify what your professional market-place-of-maximum-relevance might look like.

According to the interviews the 5next team undertook across the USA, the UK and Poland it was recognised that the top 10% of professionals in the majority of fields will be earning a disproportionate percentage of the revenue available in that profession. There are studies, specifically in the field of fee earning, which suggest this group could be earning a figure as high as 50% of the available revenue potential in that sector!

It’s better to be approximately right than exactly wrong

– Carveth Read

If that is true it means 90% of professionals are sharing the revenue opportunities from the 50% balance. As a consequence, if you are not in that top 10% your earning power is likely to be on average 9 times less than the professionals in that space.



Assuming you are part of the 90% not in that top 10% consider this;
Is it likely professionals in the top 10% have 9 times more ability than you, at what you do? In the vast majority of professions, it is unlikely that a fellow practitioner has a skill-set that is worth 900% more than yours. (For the purpose of this article, I accept that it may be possible that the top 0.5% is being able to offer something beyond the average practitioner. However,  the argument that 1 in 10 is worth 9 times more is a difficult view to sustain.)

So why do they command such a disproportionate return?
It is essentially two issues:
Firstly they will be very clear about where their skill set has the maximum impact.
In 5next we refer to that area of maximum impact as the market-place-of-maximum-relevance. The closer you connect to people in that market-place the more likely you are to get a positive disproportionate return on your business development effort. In real terms, business development effort is time and money.

Every day is a bank account and time is our currency. No one is rich, no one is poor and we’ve got 24 hours each

– Christopher Rice

The second is that the position within this market that they have developed is that of a recognised-authority. This position will be directly aligned to their market-place-of-maximum-relevance. So the key action is to embrace two drivers:

  1. Have exceptional clarity where your skill set generates the most return for your clients
  2. Have a recognised-authority position within that space

Your return on time use will thus be disproportionately successful and productive.
Being relevant is the key to introductions and it is very difficult to introduce a ‘jobbing-professional’. If you are introduced purely on the basis of your professional skill set then your introduction falls into space of the ‘commodity skill set’.

To the layman that is being referred to you consider this;
is it that easy within a “60-second introduction” to communicate the following:

  • Separate your ability in practising law against another legal firm?
  • Separate your ability as an accounting professional against another accountancy practice?
  • Separate your ability in financial services against another financial services business?

In terms of professions creating space between one offer and another, the easiest method is by the perceived profile and position that you hold as a professional. This creates the potential to create the perception of space to a layman.

We have a finite amount of time to find new business. Being recognised as an authority is the most direct method of connecting our value. To be a recognised-authority on everything is an unlikely process so we need to work out what type of authority we need to be and who needs to recognise it and where. Ensuring your business development actions are always focused on a defined professional space, where you are a recognised-authority is the differentiator between the top fee earners and the rest. Small activity within this market has far more potential to deliver return than a volume of actions in random markets. Profitable business development is not a numbers game unless it is in your area of maximum relevance.

Searching for your market-place-of-maximum-relevance is driven by different drivers. Here is a 5next crib sheet that is designed to get you thinking about what this marketplace might be.

  1. Your geographical sphere. Think in terms of what this is. Is it local, regional, national or is international. Think of your professional ability and how much geography you need in terms of your revenue target.
  2. Your engagement process. Would your engagement process separate you in your niche?
  3. The layman’s grasp of what you do. Is it a marketplace where your expertise can easily be explained in a way that could separate you from anyone else?
  4. Is there already competition by a market leader in this marketplace? If there is a clear market leader that need not necessarily mean you should not consider it unless the market leader can accommodate the needs of the entire marketplace. If not then there is a capacity requirement beyond the market leader who has already taken the trouble to identify this niche. The great news is we now have a straw man to mirror our business development actions with.
  5. Your personal ability to connect a relevant offer to that group. There are some markets that on-line processes are unlikely to communicate to. There are some marketplaces where it is unlikely you will make a decision maker face-to-face. There are some marketplaces where is difficult to raise your profile. Think about your potential in connecting with this marketplace.

Identify your niche and dominate it. And when I say dominate, I just mean work harder than anyone else could possibly work at it

– Nate Parker

These are just some thoughts that you may consider in terms of identifying what your market-place-of-maximum-relevance is or isn’t. This will maximise your return on effort in terms of where you position yourself as a recognised-authority. The key action is to match this profile to your targeted market-place-of-maximum-relevance. Once you have identified the marketplace of maximum relevance you can think tactically to answer the questions:

  • Who exactly are the people in this market-place-of-maximum-relevance?
  • Who are the people that you really need to be known by?
  • What type of network do you need that supports you performing in this marketplace?
  • What type of introductions will develop your profile in this marketplace?

Taking time out to work out where your reputation needs to perform and what your reputation needs to look like will produce an immense return on effort. It will also make you question those areas of business development where you cannot separate your value from the rest. So take action and on the subject of reputation, this article closes off with Henry Ford.

You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do

– Henry Ford

5next release a new white paper in September:

Guard your reputation – Understanding how the recognised-authority marketing model generates fees

This is the concept of being a recognised-authority and the practical actions that a busy professional can take to start to perform in that space.

Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
5next co-founder. Trainer, networking coach, writer & author. Educated at L. S. E. & Wits University. ‘$1,000,000 Round Table’ sales qualifier. Author ILM accredited: ‘Executive Programme in Professional & Business Networking’. Rainmaking experience in RSA, UK, France, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Dubai, Poland, Germany, Slovak Republic & the USA.
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