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Microscope Marketing

February 12, 2010

STEWART K KELLY, Marketing Strategy

"Don't roll your eyes, Jeremy, there's 33 million dollars to be made in this market segment."

If you’re a small operator in the consulting business, it’s time to think tiny.

The global consulting market is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The big fellas like McKinsey, Bain, and Booz control a sizable chunk of it. Some mid-sized firms battle away for a slice of the pie, too. And below that there are thousands of small and independent operators nibbling away.

If you’re a small consultancy, you’re not interested in capturing 30, 20, 10, or even one percent of the market. All you need is a little sliver (we’re talking less than 0.0001 percent) and you’re in good shape.

This is an important consideration. The big firms need to worry about market share, and they scuffle around the margins to win more of it. But if you’re a tiddler, you have no such concern; in fact, trying to broaden your appeal is a surefire way to look just like the tens of thousands of other consultants around.

It’s critical to apply this microscopic approach to your message. What is the unique problem you solve? What specific market can you find traction in? What is it about your methodology that’s distinctly different to the others?  How can you become totally irresistible to the really really small minority who happen to need exactly what you offer? The other 99.999 percent? Who cares about the other 99.999 percent?

For industries that sell tangible goods, this is a blindingly obvious and poorly constructed familiar argument in favor of differentiation. But it’s a little trickier when you’re in the business of selling your brainpower. And the penny hasn’t dropped among many of the smaller folks in the consulting business. This is to your significant advantage.

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