So you want to start the year with a winning business development strategy? Here’s where to begin.

Name your target.

This is an all-too-often overlooked (or skipped) key to success.

If you are thinking that the place to begin is with a “just get my name out there” strategy, think again.

The shortest distance between where you are today and measurable growth in your business is the clear identification of the right targets. Absent this focus, your advertising and visibility budget had better possess multiple commas left of the decimal point. And your content had best be the award-winning-can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head variety.

For lawyers, professional service providers and thousands of small businesses on Main Street, this should be good news.

In spite of everything we’ve been led to believe, marketing and business development are about connecting with the right target. Strategically identify your target first and every resource you invest will go further, last longer and do more. Every message you create is more likely to hit the mark.

Mega advertising budgets can cover a multitude of targeting deficiencies. Creative tactics and a compelling message can garner attention. But target identification bends the equation, and changes the arithmetic in your favor. A target-driven message transcends advertising-speak and marketing-spin, and just might inspire action.

3 Keys To Smart Targeting

Smart targeting is one of the most strategic exercises in which you can engage. The specific process should reflect the maturity of your practice, an understanding of the marketplace, and the broader aspirations and goals of the enterprise.

That said, here are three ideas that should jumpstart your target identification.

  1. Where does your expertise align with the marketplace? Brainstorm around growth trends and areas of high-consequence change.
  2. How does the list resulting from the brainstorming in #1 align with your personal and professional network? When it comes to the bottom-line — the development of business — relationships trump everything. An anemic network is problematic. Begin mapping a path to a target rich network.
  3. Think individual names. Sticking with the relationship theme, your list of top targets should revolve around people (versus an industry or business). Your strategic plan should be about connecting and building a relationship with individuals who can hire, recommend/refer or coach you.

We’re not talking rocket science; but targeting can be tedious and unsexy. It is a far cry from the visibility of an Apple ad campaign. It requires some analysis and demands discipline. But the degree to which you invest in strategic targeting upfront, is the degree to which your 2013 marketing and business development will contribute to measurable growth.

What does your Targeting process look like?