The VERY Messy Part Of This Draft#

Overall @NOTEs on this take of the outline

  • How can I make this even more buyer-centered – as per my new meta-POV – rather than the more supplier-centered way I wrote TPMfIC?

  • How do I balance the “beachhead thinking” stuff with the “needs to work quickly enough” realities that most people face? Maybe I need to abandon or demote the beachhead stuff to a “will be relevant to a few folks” level? Update: I think I do. The beachhead idea is rooted in the idea of getting a big win through progressive, smart risk-taking. I like that idea, but this rewrite of the book is going to lean hard towards minimal risk-taking, I think, or at least towards a minimal-risk default with a higher-risk option described but not recommended or emphasized.

  • How can I build in a Write Useful Books credibility section?

  • Maybe add in-line micro-actions, like for market sizing and other decision-aid tools?

  • From handwritten notes:

    • Why specialize? Is it right for you? (This might be guidance about where specializing is a particularly good/useful/high-leverage move)

    • Actual difficulty of building new market access (Can be done, but DO NOT underestimate the difficulty. I’m thinking of Danny’s success and others’ struggle.)

    • Bland category + Spicy POV

    • Positioning products vs. services (There is an instance of this idea in the “arguments against” section, and maybe that’s where it fits best and maybe not…)

  • TPM: maybe work in the “index fund” analogy (for the lowest-risk approach) and talk about mutual fund (medium risk) and stock-picking approaches (high risk)

Beginning A Specialization#

@NOTE: I had the idea of calling these sections Looking Like A Specialist, Acting Like A Specialist (or Getting Business Like A Specialist). The leverage section could be Increasing Profit Like A Specialist. :)

  • Making what you do clear and memorable

    • Bland category + spicy POV

    • MOAR

Generating Leads#


Specialist Leverage#

@TODO: the justification I went with for specialization has 3 prongs. This would be the place to close the loop on the “leverage” prong with some useful info about using specialization to increase leverage.

The 5 Ways Of Specializing#

If you look at enough examples of indie consultants using a narrow focus to get better at earning visibility, you’ll see five ways of focusing grouped into three categories:

1. Vertical

  • ​ Market Vertical

  • ​ Audience

2. Horizontal

  • ​ Pure Horizontal

  • ​ Platform

3. Service Specialization

Let’s pile up the definitions we need right here so we can quickly get through them and on to more enjoyable and important stuff.

Wikipedia has a useful starting point definition I’ll just borrow:

A vertical market is a market in which vendors offer goods and services specific to an industry, trade, profession, or other group of customers with specialized needs. An example could be software that manages services in hotels—amenities solutions. It is distinguished from a horizontal market in which vendors offer a nonspecific, broad range of goods and services to a large group of customers with a wide range of needs, such as businesses as a whole, men, women, households, or, in the broadest horizontal market, everyone.

That’s pretty good! Wikipedia is talking about pure market verticals and pure market horizontals. Market verticals and horizontals can range from incredibly narrow to quite broad. Within the seemingly narrow market vertical of “crushed and broken limestone mining and quarrying” (1,034 companies of this kind in the U.S.), there are 15 subcategories ranging from “agricultural limestone mining and/or beneficiating” to “riprap, limestone, mining, or quarrying.” And, of course, there are very broad market verticals like “retail,” “finance,” and “education.”

It’s very informative to take a trip to and cruise around long enough to get a sense of the market verticals landscape. You’ll be surprised how many there are that you’ve never even thought about.

An audience is a group of people or businesses that share something important in common. This shared problem, need, or goal is important enough that it causes the audience to connect and gather at online communities or in-person events. The fact that an audience gathers in some way makes them function like a pseudo vertical, and so both pure market verticals and audiences function as verticals.

I’ve discussed platforms already. To quickly recap, platforms are “things”—often, but not always, products—that a lot of businesses use and need help understanding, planning for, implementing, operating, extending, supporting, fixing, optimizing, and upgrading. A platform specialization is when an indie consultant provides services mostly or exclusively specialized in a certain platform.

A pure horizontal specialization is when you specialize in solving a specific problem or applying a specific form of expertise and you do not much care which business vertical or audience your clients come from. A client of mine helps start-ups craft a strategic narrative to improve employee alignment and velocity of innovation. His clients range from tech start-ups in the Seattle area to cosmetics brands that have just been absorbed into a larger conglomerate. He is a great example of a horizontal specialization.

Service specialization is where you specialize your service delivery. This is often synonymous with productization (where you standardize the scope and pricing of your services) or, more specifically, innovative service productization where you standardize your scope in a unique way that’s attractive to a narrow spectrum of clients.

One of my favorite examples of service specialization is Worstofall Design1, which offers a one-day business branding service. The design of this productized service—along with how the service itself is branded—appeals to a narrow range of prospects, making the service more visible in the part of the market that is a good fit for the service.

A multidimensional specialization is when you combine both vertical and horizontal specializations. In reality, most specializations are multidimensional, because a hypothetically pure vertical specialization would mean you provide every possible service from cleaning toilets to executive coaching to a single vertical, and no company is ever really that unfocused (or versatile!).