What Does and Doesn't Happen After You Specialize?

A few positioning questions come up with nearly every client I work with, either sooner or later.

The Total Business Reset ($22k for most firms) covers these six modules, usually in this order:

  • Performance Benchmarking
  • Positioning
  • Service Offering Design
  • Lead Gen
  • Roles | Structure | Staffing
  • Future Proofing

If they chose the New Business Audit ($12k), instead, we are just focusing on the three bold options. But in both cases, Positioning is always front and center. It has to be. If we don't at least proof test yours, even if you think it's pretty good, we don't know:

  • What unique problems you are solving that someone's losing sleep over in a way that most other firms in this space don't really touch.
  • Where to find those people.
  • What to say to them.
  • What they want to buy.
  • Who you need to hire to fulfill those promises you are making in the sales conversations.

The point is that I do a heck of a lot of positioning work. Probably 70 firms a year go through the process. Multiply that by 28 years, add some seminars in, and well. Sh1t. I guess I'm old!

But some things almost always come up as we get down into the details, and I'm going to let you see what those conversations are like. Usually these five things come up.

What Happens Right After Narrowing Your Focus:

  1. You are not smarter the very next day. It would be silly to think that you are, no? How could you be? No, what changes is the rate of learning. Now, way more of the situations you encounter feed the insight pool. The client scenarios are more similar, and that allows you to see more of the patterns. You don't get smarter immediately, but you do get smarter at a faster rate (sorry about the woodworking shop in this clip). Everything slows down and you see things, just like the difference between the freshman year of a QB's career and a more experienced one. Today, the more experienced QB will see the protections and instinctively know whether or not to audible out of the called play. He'll have seen what a single-high safety means; how a linebacker blitz starts...and ends. When to leave the pocket and run when a coverage sack is about to pop its ugly head. You don't get smarter right away, but you do get smarter at a much faster rate after you start seeing the same things repeated. When you're a generalist, you go to an outdoor store and buy the first weapon you see and drive all around the country looking for something that moves. When you are a focused specialist, you buy a certain type of weapon, you know where the target can be found, and everything you do is more likely to lead to success.
  2. Your imposter syndrome is a false flag. There's something about calling yourself an expert the day after the decision that rings hollow to you. Yesterday you wouldn't have said it, but today it's plastered on your website and it feels wrong. "If I'm not smarter today than I was yesterday, how can I not feel some imposter syndrome?" Well, here's the thing. Would you have taken that engagement yesterday? Of course you would have! And so it's only now that you've grown a conscience? [Obligatory smiley face so that you know I'm giving you a hard time.] Your imposter syndrome kicks in—not because you are suddenly less competent—but because you've decided to raise the standard that should have been there all along.
  3. You don't have to turn down work that doesn't fit the new focus. This is a pretty common misconception, so let's address it. Positioning is about the work that you seek and not the work that you accept. You will need to be very public about your declared focus, but you can still take other work that just bumps into you, like you always have. Having said that, you will start turning down that work eventually after you see the difference between delivering value and delivering even greater value, but that might be a year or two down the road.
  4. You immediately begin the process of narrowing it even further, to be implemented later. You can't really see what the final focus should be until you try it on, have those conversations with prospects (and clients) and see how they react, learn more through experience, and so on. But you won't find the "perfect" positioning until you find a "perfectible" positioning—a phrase my co-host on 2Bobs talked about in a recent episode.
  5. You'll have lots more to talk and write about. Contrary to how it might seem, narrowing your positioning gives you more—not less—to opine about. You may struggle now with how to articulate a unique POV that everybody else isn't already talking about, but that will be a silly fear in the past once you start noticing new things.

Let me know if I can help. Why we have so many generalist firms promising all the same stuff boggles the mind, and this is something that would be worth fixing if you haven't already done so.

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