Move Into Advisory Services Work

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    Ride ’em on down

    My friends know some things about me you might not:👉 In conversation I’m a chronic interrupter👉 I’m overly pedantic about stuff where I think the meaning of words matters a lot👉 One of the places where my pedantry comes out in full force is when speaking with a client or prospect and they utter the following words (it happens weekly in my world)…”If this market turns out to be big enough…”Nope! Here’s the proper way to phrase that question:“If this market turns out to be SMALL enough…”I know I’m being sort of pedantic here, and I know my prospects and clients are headed in roughly the right direction when they’re thinking of picking a single target market to focus on. But the phrasing of the question often reveals a mindset that I’d like to correct here.You do need to choose a specific focus for your business. About 80% of the time, that focus should be a market vertical or audience (ex: automotive manufacturing, logistics, outdoor lifestyle companies, etc.).And that focus does need to be the right size to support your current and future financial goals.But… the problem in the transition from generalist to specialist is almost always that you’ve chosen an excessively large market because you fear you’ll starve yourself of sufficient opportunity.Yes, it’s possible to be excessively, ridiculously, overly specific in your focus. Sure, that could happen. And yes, actually following through on an overly narrow focus would starve you of the opportunity you need to run your business.However, most people would never do that because of The Fear of economic starvation. So they start thinking “is this potential specialization big enough to support my business?” rather than “is it small enough to dominate?” or, even better, “is it the right size to support my business for 10 or more years and small enough to dominate in 10 years?”.Let’s have some fun… open a new browser tab right now and do a Google search for forklift rodeo. Just those two words, no quotes around them or anything else. I’ll wait here while you do that………..Is your mind blown a little bit? Mine was when I ran across that term earlier today.I’d never heard of such a thing. Turns out it is pretty much what you’d think. It’s forklift drivers doing competitive forklift driving.Google reports about 1.3 million results for the forklift rodeo query. There are how-to guides. There are YouTube videos. There are mainstream media news stories. There are safety guides. And that’s all just in the first two pages of search results.This is not some great business idea I’m handing you. This is not a suggested market position. This is simply a reminder that the world is a MASSIVE, COMPLEX place with all kinds of interesting and strange niches.And this is a reminder that the real question for you as you plan and execute your transition to specialist is probably not whether a potential market is large enough.The real question is probably whether it’s small enough.Quick heads-up: I have one open seat in my Positioning Accelerator Program (http://positioningacceleratorprogram.com). There’s a 6-person deep waiting list for this program but for various reasons nobody on the waiting list is ready to get started in February, so if you think a little help from me in a group setting would be helpful, let me know, we’ll speak to make sure the program is likely to produce a positive ROI for you, and if so that open seat can be yours. Send me note HERE to kick of this conversation.-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comI work with people 1-on-1. If you’re interested in learning more, click this here trigger link to get a short email sequence with more info sent to your inbox: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/11-retainer/Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/

    Doomsday clock

    The “Doomsday Clock” has been in the news again recently.In case you, like me, have had the luxury of basically forgetting about that thing, here’s the quick lowdown from Wikipedia:——The Doomsday Clock is a symbol which represents the likelihood of a man-made global catastrophe. Maintained since 1947 by the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board, the Clock represents an analogy for the threat of global nuclear war. Since 2007, it has also reflected climate change and new developments in the life sciences and technology that could inflict irrevocable harm to humanity.The Clock represents the hypothetical global catastrophe as “midnight” and The Bulletin’s opinion on how close the world is to a global catastrophe as a number of “minutes” to midnight. Its original setting in 1947 was seven minutes to midnight. It has been set backward and forward 22 times since then, the smallest-ever number of minutes to midnight being two (in 1953 and 2018) and the largest seventeen (in 1991).As of January 2018, the Clock is set at two minutes to midnight, due to global threat of nuclear war, the United States not being involved in world leadership roles, and climate change.——Technologies have a “doomsday clock” too.Not a countdown to hypothetical global catastrophe, but a countdown to commoditization, which is the point at which skill in that technology no longer yields a price premium or no longer brings business to your door because the skill is both rare and in-demand.Right now, blockchain expertise seems pretty far away from its “commoditization doomsday”. On the other hand, basic competence in .NET or Java would be on the other end of the scale; well past their commoditization doomsday point.It’s not that the skills completely lose value when commoditized. Instead, it’s that commodity skills on their own fail to generate a price premium. Commodity skills don’t lead buyers to seek you or your company out because the skills themselves don’t differentiate you from the ocean of other developers with similar skills. You need some other way of differentiating your business and creating exceptional value for your clients.Here are the options:#1 – Specialize in applying your technical skill to a particular type of business.#2 – Specialize in applying your technical skill to a particular type of business problem that will be a valuable problem to solve for at least 10 years.#3 – Cultivate world-class expertise in a particular technology and avoid commoditization by having truly unique, truly valuable, truly world-class expertise in the technology itself.#4 – Specialize how you package and deliver your services so you have a unique service offering with exceptional value for the right kind of buyer.All of those are technology skill plus something else. It’s the something else that creates outsized value over the long term. It’s the something else that frees you from the hamster wheel of learning a new, in-demand technical skill every 4 to 7 years after the old one reaches its commoditization doomsday.Get more info on how to specialize in this way: http://thepositioningmanual.com-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comI work with people 1-on-1. If you’re interested in learning more, follow this link: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/11-retainer/Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/

    Now *which* way is north???

    I was in Nashville, TN last week for a business trip.I actually used to live there, from 1996 to 2003.While there last week, I walked everywhere I could. I wanted to see what had changed in the city, and being on foot is the best way for me to do that.I kept getting turned around while walking streets that I used to know like the back of my own hand.My point here is about case studies, not my knowledge of the Nashville streets. :)Don’t let too much time pass before you turn a successful client engagement into a case study. The details can get fuzzy. Lost to time, even.In fact, I might suggest the following:Before the project starts, establish some baseline metrics with your client’s help. What’s the primary needle you are trying to move by building software for your client? How would you quantify that metric? (If you’re not clear on that, you’re likely to have problems with more than just case studies! There are numerous improvable metrics that aren’t easily quantifiable. Ex: staff morale and efficiency. Try to roughly quantify these anyway, and read the first few chapters of How to Measure Anything by Douglas Hubbard for inspiration.)Also before the project starts, discuss the feasibility of doing a case study. Expect pushback if the client is a big one. Don’t be inflexible; some clients just have policies about case studies you can’t get around. But at least try to get agreement to do a case study if you’re both pleased with the results.Before or during the project, decide on an appropriate amount of time for that needle to move.If it’s a short time frame (improvement should be visible shortly after the project ends), then build doing a case study into the end of the project plan, just so you and your client are both reminded that it’s part of the project.If it’s a longer time frame before improvement may be visible (6 or more months after project completion), then set a reminder for yourself to circle back to your client to see if a case study makes sense.When the time comes, DO THE CASE STUDY. You most likely won’t feel like doing it. You’ll be busy with another client, you’ll feel like it’s an imposition on your previous client, you’ll have imposter syndrome, or something. Do it anyway! You’ll thank yourself later.Case studies don’t have to be text. I love doing what I call “teaching case studies” where I ask previous clients of mine if they’d be willing to do a 20-minute recorded video conversation with me about one important thing they learned from my Positioning Accelerator Program. I like how this aligns incentives. They get to share something valuable with others, and it’s not so overtly promotional in tone.-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comI work with people 1-on-1. If you’re interested in learning more, follow this link:https://philipmorganconsulting.com/11-retainer/Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/

    Branding for booze

    I’ve got a few more examples for you to check out on http://specializationexamples.com:#1 – A branding agency that focuses on the alcoholic beverage and beauty markets#2 – A productized service that helps people optimize their AirBnB listing#3 – A Shopify developer, and a Shopify CRO consultantI hope this database helps you if you’re struggling through how to specialize, or how to describe your specialized services in a website.-PPS – If any WordPress devs out there know how I can directly link to a specific row on the table on http://specializationexamples.com (the table is generated with the Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer plugin), please let me know. I’d like to make this resource more useful by directly linking you from these posts to new additions to the table (they’re currently sorted by positioning strategy, not date of addition) but I don’t currently know how to do that.Want help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comI work with people 1-on-1. If you’re interested in learning more, follow this link: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/11-retainer/Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/

    Bootstrapping audience growth

    Quick reminder that this Wednesday, I’m hosting a webinar on how to bootstrap audience growth.Why might you want to do this?Because you have a product or big idea you want to promote.How could you do this?You could do it the hard way (all by yourself, or with paid traffic, or with slow steady organic growth). Or… you could borrow somebody else’s audience.My friend and colleague Liston Witherill is going to fill in the details on how you borrow somebody else’s audience at my next Dev Shop Marketing Briefing on Wednesday, January 31 at 11am Pacific time.If you’d like to see him teach you all about this and grill him with questions about it, register and attend the live meeting: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/6cd1397151c86684c5b9141539e44ee6This Dev Shop Marketing Briefing is free. Anybody can attend; send the registration link to a friend or colleague who needs this info if you like. We won’t be pitching anything during this meeting. Just straight up, very useful info. These DSMBs are not like a typical webinar where presenters are on a digital stage and attendees are behind a veil of anonymity. Instead we’re all in the same digital meeting room and can talk and discuss freely during the Q&A session (the last ~60 minutes). After you register, I won’t remind you a bunch of times to attend. You’ll register, you’ll add the event to your calendar, and you’ll attend or not. And if you attend, hopefully you’ll drill Liston with lots of tough questions. Easy softball questions would be fine too, but Liston is hoping for some tough ones. 🙂 I’ll publish the recording later, so don’t stress out if you want this info but can’t make the call. The recording will show up unannounced at https://philipmorganconsulting.com/dev-shop-marketing-briefings/ within a week or so of the call. If you need this info but can’t make the call, sending questions to me by email ahead of time is fine too.If you want to attend, you need to register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/6cd1397151c86684c5b9141539e44ee6-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comI work with people 1-on-1. If you’re interested in learning more, follow this link:https://philipmorganconsulting.com/11-retainer/Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/

    Freeloading is good

    Would you be interested in learning how to freeload like a pro?If course I’m having fun with the idea of borrowing somebody else’s audience to promote your own ideas and build your own audience. That’s what I mean by “freeloading”.Imagine that you have just written a short, focused e-book on best practices around legacy Django code. You now have a thing you’d like to get attention for. The thing has real benefit to the right kind of people, but not many of those people know this new thing exists.A shortcut to getting attention for this thing is find an existing audience that would find your book interesting, arrange to appear in front of them, share a subset of the information that’s in your book, and then directly or indirectly tell them about your book.I use the word thing intentionally, to keep this open-ended. The thing you might want attention for could include:A book, of courseAn idea that is somewhat unique to you and has value for certain prospective clientsA valuable methodology or way of doing thingsA somewhat unique benefit or experience you can provideThere are other possibilities of course, but those are 4 specific things you might want to borrow somebody else’s audience to get attention for.My friend and colleague Liston Witherill is going to fill in the details on how you do this at my next Dev Shop Marketing Briefing on Wednesday, January 31 at 11am Pacific time.If you’d like to see him teach you all about this and grill him with questions about it, register and attend the live meeting: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/6cd1397151c86684c5b9141539e44ee6This Dev Shop Marketing Briefing is free. Anybody can attend; send the registration link to a friend or colleague who needs this info if you like. We won’t be pitching anything during this meeting. Just straight up, very useful info. These DSMBs are not like a typical webinar where presenters are on a digital stage and attendees are behind a veil of anonymity. Instead we’re all in the same digital meeting room and can talk and discuss freely during the Q&A session (the last ~60 minutes). After you register, I won’t remind you a bunch of times to attend. You’ll register, you’ll add the event to your calendar, and you’ll attend or not. And if you attend, hopefully you’ll drill Liston with lots of tough questions. Easy softball questions would be fine too, but Liston is hoping for some tough ones. 🙂 I’ll publish the recording later, so don’t stress out if you want this info but can’t make the call. The recording will show up unannounced at https://philipmorganconsulting.com/dev-shop-marketing-briefings/ within a week or so of the call. If you need this info but can’t make the call, sending questions to me by email ahead of time is fine too.If you want to attend, you need to register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/6cd1397151c86684c5b9141539e44ee6-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comKnow a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/

    Magic Johnson

    The Lyft ride from the Nashville airport to the hotel was interesting.As soon as I got in the car, the driver–a young woman maybe in her 20’s–said “I’m dealing with a personal emergency with my sister, I hope that’s OK.”I said it was fine. Of course I could only hear the driver’s side of the phone call she was in the middle of.It soon became clear from the context of the conversation that her sister’s boyfriend had just revealed that he is infected with the HIV virus.They started discussing living with HIV and at one point said, “There’s gotta be medicine that can help. After all, Magic Johnson is still around after all these years.”I know a lot of you can create very significant improvements in your clients’ condition. You can move the needle in significant ways.Which of your past clients is going to be your “Magic Johnson”? Your proof that your company + your clients situation + technology can create amazing results.If there is no past “Magic Johnson client” for your business, what would you change to create that kind of impressive result in the future?-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comI work with people 1-on-1. If you’re interested in learning more, follow this link: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/11-retainer/Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals

    Generic, yet oddly familiar

    What building is this?Last week I was on a plane from SFO to Nashville to serve as a guest SME in a workshop David C. Baker was running, and one of the many seatback screens in my view showed a picture of the building above.It was immediately familiar, yet I couldn’t identify it until a few moments later. The video segment this image was a part of identified it as the Texas School Book Depository, the place from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed John F. Kennedy.Ah yes! That’s the reaction I had and I think most people would have. “I knew I knew it from somewhere!”The building was oddly familiar.When you’re specializing in order to cultivate a premium market position for your services, you’re looking for a similar perceptual sweet spot.Your specialization should “make sense” to your prospects without them having to think about it too much or puzzle out some deep meaning that’s obscured underneath fancy-sounding words.Even if your specialization is new to you, it should have a feeling of familiarity to your prospects because if they don’t already see the need for a specialist that looks a bit like you then you’ll have to educate them on the need and that adds significantly to the cost, length, and sheer difficulty of your sales.Here are some specializations described in 2 ways. Notice the difference:

    • “DevOps for regulated industries” vs. “Cloud data security ninjas for enterprises hosting critical data on AWS”
    • “CRO copywriting for e-commerce” vs. “Higher-leverage copy for online brands”

    Those of you who have spent a lot of time in corporate America may have a lot of un-learning to do here because bullshit wording is often the coin of that realm. And others of us, who observe what massive global brands can get away with in terms of sloppy, unclear messaging, may also need to remind ourselves that…Clarity is your best asset when it comes to identifying your ideal prospects and connecting with them online.We retreat to vague, unclear messaging because we’re afraid of saying no; afraid of missing some vital opportunity.Don’t let The Fear interfere with being clear.-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comI work with people 1-on-1. If you’re interested in learning more, follow this link: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/11-retainer/Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/

    Bizarre airplane sign follow up

    Y’all are AMAZING. You both informed and entertained me with your interpretations of the bizarre airplane lavatory sign I emailed you about yesterday.The winners of the free Complete Bundle of TPM were Billy and Patricia. And 64 and counting other people are winners for being awesome and providing the responses below (a few were awesome but too raunchy to include):

    1. Don’t pee standing up. (OK, I get it now. This is what the sign actually means. Many of you contributed to my enlightenment here. 🙂 Don’t you think a sign with words would have been 1000% more clear, and could have been legibly printed in at least 6 languages in the same amount of space?)
    2. Only one cowboy in the restroom at a time.
    3. Don’t stand 3 feet from the bowl and try to pee into it sideways, just sit and look really depressed about it instead. And always wear your hat.
    4. Watch out! That guy’s about to trip you over.
    5. It looks like when two guys are in the bathroom together and one is dropping a deuce, the other guy is not allowed to pee in their shoes. Seems like common courtesy, but if they have to make a sign for it, it’s probably happened more than we want to know.
    6. It’s obvious buddy…. MAX 1 Person Per Toilet Seat.
    7. It means 2 guys can’t hang out in the lavatory at the same time.
    8. No awkwardly waiting/watching while a brother is taking a dump. Please wait your turn at your designated passenger seat.
    9. With that hat and jacket, it’s clearly Walter White from Breaking Bad… I’m going with ‘No drug deals in the bathroom’.
    10. Don’t watch people on the toilet. It’s rude.
    11. “Don’t pee on another man’s legs.” Timeless advice.
    12. “If you’re a giant venus fly trap with legs, don’t eat the heads of men who wear fedoras. Instead, let them sit, shamefully, in peace.”
    13. No, no one is watching you. We swear.
    14. Don’t pee on anyone’s feet (a rule I wish my dog better understood).
    15. Don’t stand in line inside the lavatory. It makes the person using it very sad.
    16. Not sure why this is perplexing, it’s a well known warning that means “no binary fission”.
    17. The mind reels with possibilities, but I’m going with no more than one person in the lavatory at the same time. I love their hats.
    18. There is no angel here, it’s just your imagination.
    19. Only one person with a hat at a time in the bathroom.
    20. No detective peer reviews to be conducted in the bathroom mid-flight.
    21. “No Blues Brothers allowed”
    22. Do not attempt to stand and pee while wearing a ten-gallon hat!
    23. No loitering
    24. Naked people should always wear appropriate head gear.
    25. The dude sitting down looks dejected… Probably because he has to sit down in an airplane bathroom…
    26. If you are wearing a dapper hat you should sit in a shameful posture.
    27. I might just be the slow one in the room, but I really do think that IKEA-like picture in the airplane lavatory (reproduced below) was just not very clear.

    It certainly left room for some hilarious interpretations. I think #9 above made me LOL the hardest.In your website messaging, are there times when words work better than pictures?I think so!Now of course, skilled artists can replace many words with a single clear, well-chosen picture or illustration.But, you and I are probably not those skilled artists (I know I’m not), and as such we should gravitate towards a clear, simple usage of words instead of a confusing, unclear usage of pictures.That said, let me end with one of my all time favorite pictures that expresses a positioning. An example of doing it right:Ok, there are some words in there too. I couldn’t remove those, but the picture of the grounded ship with some sort of slick of oil or fuel streaming into the distance polluting the water is so powerful. It really tells you almost everything you need to know about the problem Ardent Marine can help you solve.So if you’re going to use images to express a specialization, market position, or message, make ’em good!-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comI work with people 1-on-1. If you’re interested in learning more, follow this link: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/11-retainer/Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/

    Wut

    Last week I traveled to Nashville, TN to be a guest SME at a workshop David C. Baker is running on positioning and lead generation.I was on the plane and in the lavatory when I saw something that was confusing.So help me out. What. the. heck. does this sign (from the airplane lavatory) mean?ImageA free copy of The Complete Bundle of The Positioning Manual to the first 2 people who reply with either a hilarious or probably-accurate explanation of what that sign means.I seriously don’t know what that sign means. Help a brother out. Hit here to send me note.-PWant help improving your positioning or marketing? I offer a small group program to help you do exactly that: http://positioningacceleratorprogram.comKnow a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send ’em this free gift! Details here –> https://philipmorganconsulting.com/referrals/