CrosshairsWhen it comes to business development, few things bring the clarity that comes with a focus on targeting.

But for who-knows-how-many-reasons, few things are more difficult for many professional service providers.

It is a heck of a lot easier to discuss getting our name out there. Or, building a list of all the XYZ type companies in a given geography.

And — if neither time or budget is an issue, and assuming your visibility campaign differentiates you from everyone else vying for market attention — this might work. But chances are also good you’ll over spend, waste valuable time, and produce little when it comes to building a solid practice.

Don’t misunderstand. Broad based visibility campaigns can serve a critical purpose in professional service marketing…especially when it comes to seeding an expanding network. But for most lawyers, accountants, consultants and the like, this is rarely a cornerstone of strategic business development.

So is there practical help when it comes to how to approach target identification? Here are 4 ideas for your consideration.

1. Test your definition of Strategic.

The “S” word may be one of the most over-used in our planning vocabulary. All targets are not created equal. Strategic business development targeting does (at least) three things:

  • it defines more than a universe. Targeting requires the kind of specificity that provides the crosshairs for laser-like focus for all efforts. Lists, markets, even an industry will need to be narrowed (more on this in #2).
  • it is based on an identified need or opportunity. Beware the hammer-seeking-a-nail trap.
  • it factors the realities of the market, so that you’re not investing in the pursuit of unprofitable targets;

2. Think names

Identifying an industry is a little better than having no target at all; a company can be a bit more helpful; but when it comes to growing a practice, a person almost always makes the hiring decision. This individual should be your target. People hire people. While it may be necessary to start at a macro level, success hinges on the identification of individuals. Identify the right individuals and your plab takes shape — do whatever it takes to get face-to-face. This is where to invest in visibility.

3. Remember the 3 types of targets

The smart target list is made up of three different types of individuals:

  • those able to hire you
  • those who, based on relationship to one making hiring decisions, will refer or recommend you;
  • those who will advise (coach) you and/or provide the business intelligence necessary for a winning pursuit.

4. Suspend disbelief and cultivate tenacity

Building professional equity with the right individual(s) requires time, tenacity and vision. If you’ve done the strategic work upfront, don’t talk yourself out of a pursuit prematurely. Stick with it long enough for a relationship to take root. And resist the temptation of shiny new opportunities that will inevitably come along. Distraction is deadly.

Incorporate these 4 ideas, and efforts will be much more focused…and productive.