The opportunity to profit from consulting and coaching. You wish you’d spotted it sooner don’t you?
Just like the tech boom in the early 90s. Or the food revolution in the 00s. Or the thousands of other successful trends in recent decades. You wish you had spotted and acted on them much sooner.
Maybe then things would have been different. Maybe you’d be sat there a millionaire having started and sold your business. Maybe you’d be the one on the front cover of Forbes magazine.
Heck, the way things have played out over the last month in the elections, maybe you’d be the one sat in the damn White House!
But who cares about yesterday's maybes when there are opportunities to profit all around us today. Particularly in the $240 billion consulting industry.
Opportunities for those who are present and willing to uncover existing trends in this robust industry.
As a consultant, you should never rush into your market unprepared. Never dismiss the importance of understanding in depth, the trends within your niche. Or, the demographics of your target market and the deep desires of your ideal client.
If you do, you’ll be left behind in the slow lane. Right now, it might be the fear of getting stuck that has you paralyzed from moving forward in the first place.
But that’s about to change. Because in this article, I’ll show you how to:
So, without further delay, let’s crack on, because as Sherlock Holmes would say..,
“The game is afoot..."
You’ve heard the saying “the riches are in the niches” right?
Meaning, the more specific you get, the easier it is to dominate that niche and generate income.
The easiest way to brainstorm your niche is to take out a pen and paper. Split the page into three columns. Under each column, write the following headlines:
Now, spend some time filling in these columns as best you can, so you end up with something like this:
Golf, Financial, Investment, Consulting, Marketing, Sport
More clients, More income, More free time, Less stress, Better scores
Investing, Writing, Digital marketing, Paid traffic, Web creation, Content
Your niche is some combination of these three columns.
I started studying digital marketing in 2008, while I was still working in investing. Four years later, when I left the industry, I determined my niche was:
In other words, I could help professionals in the investment management space. Not to generate higher returns, but to get more clients through digital marketing.
Since then, the only thing to have changed is my industry has expanded. I now serve coaches and consultants and other service professionals.
Now, you could stop at the above. But, for those who want to go deeper, here’s a ninja thing to do...
Ensure you’re skill-set is in demand!
Howard Lindzon (founder of StockTwits) once claimed the key to making money in the stock market is to:
“Find the trend. Ride the trend. Get off the trend”.
He’s right, but it doesn’t stop at investors in the stock market. It’s everywhere.
We can attribute the wealth of many business owners to being in the right industry at the right time. Same goes for the success of artists, filmmakers, and authors who latch on to topical ideas.
It’s not to take anything away from these people. It's just something to acknowledge so we can take advantage ourselves too.
One simple tool you can use to examine your niche is Google Trends.
When I left the investment industry in 2012, I could have considered “investing" instead of digital marketing as my core skill. But, based on the existing trends at play, I chose digital marketing.
The key here is to stay up-to-date on the changing trends within the industry. For example, when I started studying digital marketing in 2008, Facebook ads was on the rise. Meanwhile, Google pay-per-click (PPC) ads were on the decline in search terms.
By the time I started as a consultant in January 2013, the search demand for Facebook ads was on par with Google PPC. But, there were other trends to acknowledge too. One of which was...
Today, as you can see from the above, the growth of Facebook ads has surged once again, at the expense of Google PPC.
So, when I’m in discussions with prospective clients, I let them know I’ll help:
Position them as authorities in the niche through organic marketing (i.e. content).
Generate clients on demand through paid marketing (such as Facebook Ads).
Now, just because you might find that your niche is in a declining trend does not mean you should ignore it.
First, the niche might still be so large there is ample opportunity. But of more importance, there might be diamonds in the rough you can uncover and take advantage of.
For example, let’s dig into a niche I have zero knowledge in... weight loss.
If I’m looking at this a few years back, I’m noticing a declining trend for the term lose weight.
But, if I type in the term lose belly fat, that trend has continued to rise. We can even go further by observing the rising demand within this particular trend. Such as belly fat diet, belly fat exercises, etc.
We don’t have to stop there either. You could search for trending products within the belly fat diet niche. “Coconut Oil” could be one such example.
This information helps shape your product offering. For example, based on further research and testing, you might conclude your niche is…
"Helping people lose belly fat through a coconut diet."
The above case study is not a bad start. But it’s not the complete picture, is it?
If “helping people” is as far as you go, you haven’t gone far enough. It’s time to find out more about who these people are.
Some people's eyes light up when they find a niche with no competition. But no competition is a warning sign that there might not be demand for the problem you are trying to solve.
Competition proves there is a viable market and an easy way to check is go to google and type in a search for your niche.
If you see paid ads on the top and the right-hand side of the page, rest assured the demand in the market is strong.
The reason being, Google PPC ads had gotten particularly expensive. So, if competitors are battling it out for paid positioning, they must be generating a positive ROI.
Another insight we derive from our competition relates to our target market.
Most consultants starting out, guess their target market. Or worse still, they try and target everyone. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are tools to ethically steal your competitor's intelligence and use to your advantage.
One such tool is Alexa.
Type in your competitor's web address and Alexa goes to work. The result: a clear demographic picture of your target audience.Information such as:
Provided this information comes from your closest competitors, it also reflects your target market.
As you can see, we continue to zero-in our niche. Getting super specific so we can nail our marketing message. In the long run, it'll save us thousands in advertising spend.
But, we’re not finished yet!
The next step in creating a consulting service in hot demand is to know your ideal customer (not just your target market). To do so, you must create…
Your customer avatar (i.e. a fictional description of your ideal customer).
Dialing in your customer avatar removes the frustration of creating a marketing message that sells. I’m referring to elements like headlines, ad copy and the offer itself.
And that’s just scratching the surface. Any part of your marketing and sales process that references the customer will improve when you get clear on your avatar.
Yet, most coaches, consultants and service professionals shrug their shoulders at this point. Choosing to ignore this crucial step. Don’t be one of them.
Here are two customer avatars you can download from the Digital Marketer
There are five key stages to filling out these avatars
Here’s an example of a completed version
Start by creating at least one avatar. However, as you generate more leads, get to understand what either prompts them or prevents them from buying. Then, create more avatars as you segment your audience.
Following the steps above, you might come up with an avatar something along these lines:
The more you do this, the easier it becomes. At some point, you’ll end up with 3-5 avatars which represent your top clients. Again, this will help simplify you marketing message and effort.
As I said earlier, your marketing message has to make your prospect feel like you just ripped a page out of their diary and read it out loud to them. It has to connect on an emotional level with them.
Because here’s the thing.
Your client couldn't care less about the service you are trying to sell. They only care about the outcome you deliver. About where they are right now compared to where your service will take them.
As Perry Marshall once said:
Nobody who bought a drill actually wanted a drill. They wanted a hole. Therefore, if you want to sell drills, you should advertise information about making holes - NOT information about drills.
So, the key question you need to ask yourself is,"what is my client's optimal outcome?"
An outcome that impacts not just on what they have after working with you, but also how they feel.
A simple exercise to determine your client's optimal outcome is to create what I refer to as a client quadrant.
When it comes to my marketing message, I don’t overload prospects with processes. Rather, I speak about how they will feel once we achieve their optimal outcome together.
I draw on the avatar and quadrant information to ensure I speak the precise language of my prospective client.
As for case study we’ve referenced through this article, the currency is “belly fat”. The optimal outcome is what’s left after they lose this belly fat and how does it make them feel.
Now, you are all familiar with the before/after shots that illustrate the change in appearance (i.e. have).
However, these images don't explain the emotional impact. Something we can tackle by completing the customer quadrant.
So now, not only is our message you will look great after working with us, but...
...you'll feel great too because you'll be happier, have more confidence and have more energy than ever before!
Before ever writing a word of marketing copy, be crystal clear on the optimal outcome you're trying to deliver.
Time and time again, I see consultants lose their audience because they go into depth on the processes involved.
Keep the prospect focussed on the optimal outcome itself.
The difficulty in any solo service business is standing out amongst your competition. An excellent solution is to create a unique signature system.
A system that simplifies how you move your client from their current situation of frustration and angst to their optimal outcome.
Now, you might argue each client is different and so, should be taught differently. However, if you’ve nailed your niche, your service differs little from client to client.
The first step before creating the system is to acknowledge your client's journey. Map it out in such a way that it revolves around one major currency or path.
This currency is the yardstick your customer uses to measure your progress working together. In my case, that currency is "client flow," which is the lifeblood of any consulting business.
Once you have your currency selected, it’s time to create your signature system.
I break this creation process down into four stages, which are as follows:
Using this approach, I created a simple system to help those in the financial space.
A 3x3 matrix (i.e. nine steps in total). Each step revolved around a topic, had it’s own unique name and represented a mini transformation.
So, for example, in the Process stage, one of the steps is to create a sales funnel. It's called “Streamlined Sales Funnel”. The transformation is it takes you from a "leaky" to "air-tight" automated sales process.
Remember, your role as a consultant is to:
The only thing left, once you have this system in place, is to finalize how best to deliver it.
In “The $240 Billion Consulting Opportunity You Can't Ignore”, I highlighted there were three basic services you can offer someone in the information business:
It’s true the majority of online entrepreneurs start at the bottom creating courses. Courses that serve the DIY market. The reason being, it is the ultimate form of passive income.
You create the product once. Then build an automated marketing system around it. Outsource the management and hey presto…
The problem is, this space is crowded and competitive. Regardless of how great your course, unless you have an established audience, your offer gets lost.
This path to financial freedom, although rewarding, is a long and tough one. It’s difficult to build momentum, which is why I refer to it as "pushing the snowball uphill."
In other words, offering a consulting service. Some quick wins (i.e. new clients) for your business builds confidence and momentum.
You get to work with others to fine tune your services and get accumulate valuable feedback. You’re building your authority positioning but getting paid at the same time.
Sure, starting out, you might have to offer discounted pricing. Just to prove your worth and get some testimonials etc. However, some early success for a handful of clients is all it takes to warrant higher prices.
Meaning, you can double or even triple your business in a short period.
Now, here comes the big mistake I see successful consultants make...
They never transition from offering time-consuming consulting services to scalable coaching.
You see, working 1-on-1 with clients gives you little in the way of leverage in your business. After all, there is only one of you and only so many hours in a day.
Sure, you can keep generating new clients and working longer hours. But over time, this becomes exhausting and increases the risk of burning out.
In other words, if your only service offering is 1-on-1 consulting, you are STUCK. Your income constrained by the number of hours you can work.
Yes, you can increase your prices, but there is a limit. There is some equilibrium price you reach that dictates the optimum levels of supply and demand.
So, once you reach that point as a consultant, you must switch to an alternative approach. You must...
Create a group coaching program.
That way, you can enroll more high-ticket clients at a given time. You increase your income, while at the same time helping more people. Furthermore, you stop trading your time for money and are in a position to scale!
Once you reach that point of attracting more clients, generating more income AND freeing up more of your time...
You are operating at what I refer to as the Consultants (or Coaching) sweet spot.
So, you get to leverage your time and build a scalable coaching business.
Most consultants believe that customers want to pay for your time. That they want you to get on the phone with them as often as possible. But nothing could be further from the truth.
If you have clients demanding such a relationship, you should cut ties sooner than later.
Your ideal client has an abundant mindset. They understand the value is in getting results...Period!
If you can deliver these results via a group coaching program, then great. If it takes 8-weeks rather than 12-months, even better.
Delivering the desired outcome in the quickest and most efficient means possible is where the gold is. Your ideal client will justifiably pay top dollar for that.
It’s only once you’ve built a successful group coaching program, should you move onto the final stage…
Creating an online course. Because by this point, you’ll have
Once you've structured your signature system, the final part is determining how best to deliver it...
...and over what period of time?
For the purpose of this exercise, let's assume you came up with a 12-week program where you work 1-on-1 with clients to lose 20 lbs minimum.
Now, your message goes from... "helping mothers post-pregnancy lose belly-fat with a coconut diet, to...
Helping mothers post-pregnancy feel fabulous again by losing 20 lbs belly fat in under 12 weeks following a delicious coconut diet and home workout plan.
Once you have these three components (your consulting, coaching program and online course) running smoothly, the income opportunities are magnificent.
It’s true that the $240 billion, and growing nature of the industry, provides an excellent opportunity to profit from consulting.
But, if you think you can launch your services online and expect the floodgates to open, you’re mistaken. To triumph, you must do your research beforehand. And that begins with the market your serve.
The more niche the market, the better the opportunity to become an authority. Now, there are a couple of caveats.
You need to beware of niches that are out of favor and in decline. You need to ensure the niche is viable from a profit perspective,
You determine the second point by analyzing whether competition exists or not. If it does, and competitors are paying for Google ads, it confirms an ROI opportunity exists.
You can uncover intelligence about your target market from your competition too. This saves you from having just to guess starting out.
And then from here, you can narrow the target market down further by creating a customer avatar. This information is crucial for your marketing purposes.
Once this is in place, it’s a case of positioning yourself as unique by creating a signature system.
The final decision is how you deliver the stages of this system to your clients. Online courses appeal from a passive income perspective. But, without an existing audience, this is the hardest route to begin.
Instead, start by offering 1-on-1 consulting services that validate your expertise.
If you follow each of the steps above, you’ll remove the barriers to starting out on the right footing in consulting. You’ll be in a position to crush it, operating in a niche with hot demand.
But, if you would like further help or information on how to get there faster, feel free to get in touch with me.
Right now, I'm offering a free strategy session call with me or an expert member of my team.
Just click here to book in a time that is convenient for you.
James is a digital marketing consultant and online business strategist. He helps coaches, consultants, and solo professionals market their business online so they establish authority positioning and predictably generate 5-20 high-ticket, new clients every month.