Do I Hear Opportunity Knocking?
We asked our AIIP Past Presidents to share their tips on building and growing a successful independent information business.
Cindy Shamel, AIIP President (2003-2004) shares some tips on looking for new markets.
My livelihood depends upon successfully engaging a target market willing to pay cash money for my products and services. Today I have an established client base, but sustainability requires strategic and ongoing monitoring looking for gaps and opportunities.
To maintain or increase revenue, I systematically seek to balance my client base with the proper mix of products and services.
Sometimes this means identifying a new target market to serve with existing services. Other times it means developing new products or services for an existing clientele.
How do you identify new target markets or services to offer? Track, watch, lurk, and pay attention. As Past President Susanne Bjorner suggested in A Job for Life, insight often “comes when observing an activity, industry, or practice far removed from the area we are working in.” Here are a few of the resources I use to keep the ideas flowing.
Track the Trends – It Keeps You Ahead of the Game
Follow ReadWrite for insight and analysis about the internet industry. Launched in 2003 as ReadWriteWeb, this sight has become a media platform covering the “connected world”. Monitor this website to nurture your understanding of new technologies and the impact they can have on you, your business, and your clients’ businesses.
MarketingProfs delivers a range of marketing resources including a library of articles and newsletters free to registered members. This site helps me stay on top of marketing trends and tools.
Watch for Weirdness – It Helps You Think Laterally
Boing Boing delivers a steady stream of pointers and stories about technology, gadgets, science, business, and wonderful things (things full of wonder?). Boing Boing offers up a world outside the information profession, helping to trigger new ideas.
Lifehacker offers “tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.” You never know what kind of work related idea might spring from a Lifehacker tip or trick. Keep an open mind. Recent postings included “Your dog remembers all those awful things you did” and “NASA didn’t find life on Mars – but it did find something very cool.” Surely I need not elaborate on the value here.
Lurk on LinkedIn – It Facilitates Learning from Others
What are your LinkedIn connections saying? Find out by going to your LinkedIn Home page. One of my connections once posted something about 70,000 students flocking to a free online course in artificial intelligence. Do I need to offer online training? Are students a good target market? Should I start paying attention to artificial intelligence? Maybe.
Are there LinkedIn Groups with members who might shed light on my clients, products, or services? No doubt. One of my “industries of interest” has a group with over 25,000 members. Hmmm, better check the buzz and see what they’re saying.
Pay Attention to Your Peers – It Provides Food for Thought
AIIP Webinars deliver the expertise of your colleagues on topics you may not have thought to care about. I mean, did you ever see a webinar announcement and think “I have no idea what that is about, it seems to have nothing to do with me, so I’m not going to attend.” Well, I’m here to tell you that not knowing what it is about is exactly the reason why maybe you should attend. Just sayin’.
Phil Bradley’s Weblog, coming out of the UK, presents information from another perspective. Phil says his weblog is where librarians and the internet meet. A recent posting included some DuckDuckGo tricks Google doesn’t have. Hmmm, that gives me an idea. Gotta run!
Cindy Shamel has operated a business providing information services since 1998. She served the Association of Independent Information Professionals as president in 2003-2004 and the San Diego Chapter of SLA in 2009. In 2006 AIIP awarded her the Sue Rugge Memorial Award for mentoring.