The thing about books

I recently finished writing a book. Those of you who have been loitering around my little corner of the Internet for a while know this. I have whined endlessly about the rewrite of The Positioning Manual for Technical Firms to this email list. 🙂 You may not know, however, that I also published that book. You see, that’s the thing about books. If you stop after you finish the writing, nobody ever sees it. You — or somebody — has to do the publishing part too. And then you have to do the part I’m doing now, which is telling …

Read more

Visibility and trust

The primary error I made in the first version of what is now The Positioning Manual for Indie Consultants was to portray specialization as a standalone superpower, divorced and free of any kind of interdependence on context. Nevertheless, the book inspired folks to specialize, and that transformed some businesses for the better. And, to be fair, 6 years ago when I wrote that book, I had more ideals and enthusiasm than experience, and so I didn’t really understand how specialization integrates with the full context the indie consultant occupies. The Positioning Manual for Indie Consultants begins with three important points: …

Read more

Quintile A buyers

Urgency attracts urgency. Most of us get motivated to learn how to “do marketing” after it’s too late to do it the right way, so we pursue Quintile A buyers using direct response marketing. Metaphorically, we’re the first little pig, building marketing the cheap and fast way, out of straw. Let’s imagine that a long-term study of companies that buy indie consulting services finds an average “dwell time” of 4 years between first becoming aware of an indie consultant and hiring that consultant. The distribution, however, is a pretty low, broad bell curve, and so there are lots of outlier …

Read more

The king gets hungry

Marketing is earning visibility and trust, and the easiest way to earn visibility is to latch onto a platform right before it explodes in popularity. A platform can be: A business process framework (i.e., EOS, 3HAG, Six Sigma, Agile, Lean, TDD) A programming language (i.e., Python, Ruby, C#) A software framework (i.e., React, VueJS, Laravel) An actual platform you can build stuff on (i.e., AWS, Linux, Windows, Salesforce, Drupal, WordPress) (Platforms can also be a way to get a message to an audience, but that’s not the kind of platform I’m talking about here.) A platform is a “thing”; it …

Read more

Rented and owned visibility infrastructure

The easiest way to earn visibility is to latch onto a platform right before it explodes in popularity. This approach to earning visibility comes with the serious risk of a forced evolution from innovative to efficient business unless the platform remains an open-ish system. Many of us would prefer to avoid this risk. We have options! We can rent or build our own infrastructure for visibility. Renting visibility infrastructure is different than riding astride a platform. Platforms eventually seek to commoditize their complements, and if you are a vendor within the platform ecosystem, you are a complement to the platform. …

Read more

Owned visibility infrastructure

You can ride astride a platform to gain visibility. You can rent infrastructure from which to earn visibility. Or… you can build that infrastructure yourself and own[1] it. Owned visibility infrastructure includes: An authoritative website An email list A community Event(s) “Owning” an idea We like owned visibility infrastructure primarily because we are more free from intervening algorithms, and things like an email list or a community are relatively portable from one service provider to another. These benefits come at a cost, of course. It’s tradeoffs and turtles all the way down. It takes time, effort, and skill to build …

Read more

Focus and visibility

Spear. Needle. Niche. Beachhead. These are the words used to describe how a narrow focus leads to leverage in our efforts to earn visibility for our work. They all describe going narrow, small, and focused to increase impact. It’s easier to narrow the area over which we apply force than it is for solopreneurs to increase the amount of force. Impact = Force / Area That’s one way to think about the reason why narrow focus increases impact. Another is in terms of relevance. Potential Relevance = Homogeneity of Audience Focus is necessary to create relevance, and relevance is the …

Read more

5 ways of focusing

Narrowing your focus makes it easier to earn visibility, and there are 5 ways you can narrow your focus. The world of business is divided up into verticals. Why not sectors or markets or industries or business families or moneyblobs or something else? Some of those words are used somewhat interchangeably, but for our purposes finance and manufacturing and health are 3 market verticals among 20 high-level verticals and 422 sub-verticals. A pure vertical focus is when you focus on 1 vertical or 2 closely-related verticals (medicine and life science, for example, are 2 verticals that make sense when combined …

Read more

Platform specializations and thought leadership

Specializing in a platform limits the opportunity to create thought leadership content. In the early days of the platform’s life, there might be some opportunity for something like thought leadership content, but mature platforms need very little thought leadership that is focused on the platform itself. First reason: it’s kind of obvious what the platform can do and how to unlock its value. Second, along its path to maturity, the platform owner has probably been investing in thought leadership content themselves, and so they likely have become the primary thought leader or authority within the platform ecosystem. When it comes …

Read more

The 3 visibility method categories

Narrowing your business focus (specializing) makes it easier to earn visibility, and there are 3 categories of methods by which you can earn visibility. You’ll notice that outreach methods are not generally compatible with horizontal specializations. The problems that many horizontal specialists are focused on often do not emit signals of need that are externally visible, making it difficult to execute relevant outreach. The vast majority of the infuriatingly irrelevant outreach I’ve been on the receiving end of is focused on horizontal problems: Philip, do you need on on-site security camera system? Philip, are you looking for your next career …

Read more