Maui Marketing Tip #2: Create a marketplace of one

In yesterday’s article, I talked about the fact that in order to compete in a marketplace, you first have to show up. Woody Allen’s famous quote sums it up perfectly: “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”

Existing amongst and with your competition has many moving pieces to it. For a tax firm, some of those pieces include:

  • Being in the mail to targeted tax liens
  • Having an informative, content-intensive lead generating web site
  • Advertising in relevant niche industry trade publications
  • Being in ValPak in your target neighborhoods during tax season
  • Consistent client/prospect newsletter mailed to your clients and best prospects

Beyond these “being there” items, though, you need to consider creating your own marketplace. The absolute best position to be in any industry is the one and only choice. Marketing legend Dan Kennedy often talks about creating “an industry of one”, in which you are the sole service provider. Not only does this make you the obvious choice to do business with in that industry category, but it also allows you to charge premium fees as a specialist.

While in Lahaina on Tuesday, I knew I wanted to be on the water. That narrowed my tour operators from a couple hundred to just the 30 or so with vessels on the marina. Even more specifically, I knew that I wanted to be on a sailboat, because of my recent experience and interest in sailing. Even MORE specifically, I wanted to be on a high-performance racing sailboat.

Due to this, the sailboat that I chose, America II, became an automatic marketplace of one for me – there was no other choice. In fact, unlike most other tourists, I specifically went to Lahaina for no other reason than because that particular charter operator was my only choice on the entire island for what I wanted. When I spoke to the company about it, they not only confirmed it, but knew full well what they were doing when they advertised their performance sailing excursions (then, of course, I had to convince them to let me help crew the boat, which is a different marketing lesson altogether).

Let me give you a small example. When marketing my own tax firm, I do not claim to be part of the “tax resolution industry”. In fact, in my marketing, I go out of my way to distinguish myself from the “tax resolution industry”. Instead, I market myself as an IRS collections representation expert – which nobody else does. You see, “tax resolution” is actually an industry term, it’s jargon. It’s not a term created by the IRS or by consumers, it’s a term created by us. Since I do one thing, and one thing precisely, I am comfortable painting myself into a corner, and I don’t compete with other “tax resolution” companies, because I’m not one – I’m an IRS collections representation firm.

When you create for yourself a marketplace where you are the only service provider, you obtain incredible marketing leverage. Rather than just being “one of the best ______”, you become “the ONLY _____”. When you specialize, you truly become an expert in that practice area, and can legitimately say you’re better than other general practitioners that do multiple things.

It used to be that you could say that you did IRS representation and nothing else, but even that implies a broader stroke of service. With the ever increasing number of players in the marketplace, you have to do more in order to distinguish yourself. You must niche yourself further and further down, in order to become THE choice of service provider for that service, in that niche.

This concept of creating an industry of one combines the creation of your USP along with niche selection. For example, I love working on 2290 cases, and have carved out a tiny niche within the bigger tax resolution universe by taking 2290 cases that many other practitioners don’t market to or gloss over as being not worth their time. Because I work so many of them, I am able to call myself an expert in that field, and lay claim to an entire niche that is more or less ignored by the thousands of other practitioners (until they read this, that is!). In my marketing to 2290 tax liens, I boldly make the claim that I am “the ONLY tax consultant specializing in resolving tax problems for truckers”, and I can also build affinity within the group because I come from a trucking family.

It should be noted that any firm, any practitioner, can market to multiple niches and be the sole, expert service provider of choice for that entire niche.

You can become an expert in more than one thing, and tax practitioners do it all the time. Perhaps your clientele has, by no real design of your own, come to service all of the real estate brokers, appraisers, investors, and other real estate professionals in your area. This gives you a tremendous marketing advantage, and gives you something to grow from. But perhaps you also have a small cadre of dentists that you work with, and you like working with them, and want to grow that part of your practice. As such, you can market aggressively to dentists and make the claim that you are “Chicago’s leading authority on minimizing the tax burden of dental practices”.

It is simple and straightforward to carve yourself a niche in many ways. Specifically, look for:

  • Niche industries that you already do a lot of work for, or that you enjoy working with.
  • Identify specific groups of people you like working with, and identify the common traits linking those people
  • What specific tax types, forms, or services do you prefer working with over others?

I choose to market most heavily to small, mom & pop trucking firms in five western states that owe 2290 back taxes and offer collections representation to them. This is a very specific, very well defined sub-sub-niche of “tax resolution” within which I have created “an industry of one”. Most of the prospects I market to in that arena never hear from other tax resolution firms, since they often lack an accompanying 941 lien, and I also cross-reference the tax lien filing with another type of database to produce a more well-defined mailing list. It’s far more expensive for me to market to this group than a general 941 list, but it’s worth every dime in the end.

What group can you market to? What specific service can you market to that group? Defining a market niche where you can become the sole provider in your self-declared industry of choice allows you to charge higher fees, market more effectively, and have a higher sales closing rate.