Archive for March 25th, 2009

Dear Danielle: Should I Specialize?

Dear Danielle:

I am in the process of starting my administrative support business. I have over 10 years of experience in various high-level administrative support roles. I feel like I know many things about many things, everything from marketing, bookkeeping, customer service, general administration, etc. Do you recommend that a new Administrative Consultant choose specific areas or services to specialize in? Or should I just offer the whole shabang at this time and then specialize as I get established? If you think specialization is a good idea, can you advise as to a few niche areas that might be most productive and lucrative to pursue? –MR

Here’s the thing that a lot of newcomers in our industry don’t understand: Admin support is already a specialty in and of itself. It’s the specialty of providing ongoing, right-hand administrative support to clients you work with in ongoing (continuous), collaborative partnership.

This is Business & Marketing 101.

If someone specializes in bookkeeping, they are a bookkeeper.

If someone specializes in copywriting, they are a copywriter.

If someone specializes in web design, they are a web designer/developer.

If someone specializes in writing, they are a writer.

And so on and so forth.

Administrative Consultant is the term we use to denote someone who specializes in ongoing, right-hand administrative support. We are administrative experts. This is what we focus on and is the core, primary offering, the very thing we are in business to do.

That’s because what we “sell” isn’t line-item, piece-meal project work. We’re in business to offer is a solution that is focused on the ongoing relationship, not on occasional/sporadic transactional projects.

Why is this important to understand?

Because it’s going to make all the difference in how you market, how you are able to articulate your solution and attract the right clients.

So the question becomes: Do you want piecemeal projects where you always have to chase down new work, in which case the business model and the title (secretarial services) is completely different?

Or do you want clients who pay you a fee every month in order to work together continuously and where you are able to then deliver an entirely different solution to clients, one where you are involved in their business at a more intimate and impactful level?

What’s going to be really important to you as an Administrative Consultant not specializing (ongoing, collaborative, right-hand administrative support is already a specialty ;)), but rather finding a target market to focus your administrative support on.

This is what is going to give you the direction you need to hone your message and know where to find those people more quickly, more easily and with less expenditure of time, money and energy.

The folks who don’t have a target market have a much harder time in business and it takes longer for them to find clients. That is because they are trying to be everything to all people and talk to everyone in the world. That doesn’t create a compelling message and those folks are the ones you’ll typically see with websites saying the exact same thing as everyone else.

You don’t want that in your business. You need to be able to differentiate yourself.

Determining a target market and then studying and really, really getting to know that market is going to make all the difference in the world for you.