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Jim Higgins, ProForma Branding Excellence

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Niche Focus Pocus

I’ve been writing quite a bit about the highs, lows, and lessons learned in building my new online business division.  One of my very first challenges has been selecting my niche market focus.

Guess what I’ve realized?!  The same marketing principles in the face-to-face business world hold true in the online world!

niche networking photo for blog

I’ll explain…but first let me take you back a bit to the most unforgettable marketing lesson of my life.

A number of years ago, when I was an exec in the corporate world, I was responsible for product development and marketing women’s bras. (Yes, I know, a rather unusual industry).

Well, at that time I was a newbie marketer and I needed to find a way to get our products sold into department stores. (Remember those big buildings we drove to, where we tried stuff on, paid for it with cash or credit cards, and then took the stuff home?) There was intense competition to get bra buyers to buy new styles. They were trying to select out vs. add in – unless you gave them a darn good reason to buy.

So how to get our small brand bought and sold into a sea of bras?

Well at the time, sports bras were just starting to get talked about. And in the early 80’s, tennis was a very hot sport for women. This was the era of Billy Jean King, Chris Evert, and Evonne Goolagong.

Now, at that time, I didn’t play tennis or know much about it. But I knew sports bras were only going to get bigger and more important in the bra world.

And we didn’t have a unique product or brand direction in our entire line.

So I did a little research and found out that from a numbers standpoint, women tennis fans and players were a meaningful market- maybe not compared to the entire bra market, but appreciable nonetheless. More importantly, women who were into sports had a big need, and they were a very eager, enthusiastic market. Women tennis players were buying millions of dollars of tennis clothes and other accessories each year. Intuitively, I knew we were perfectly positioned to get noticed and capture our slice of the sport bra market – if we acted fast and smart. I knew we could carve out a healthy niche market.

Ultimately, we got Evonne Goolagang, winner of 14 Grand Slam tennis titles,  to be our spokesperson for The Tennis Bra. Our sales took off and we became known as a major player in the Sports Bra market.

Ok, that’s nice for the tangible product world. But what about the online marketing world? Is niche marketing as necessary?

Good question.

I’ll answer it in one word:


The online business world is filled with vast opportunity – almost endless in fact.

That’s the good news. The flip side of the coin is that it’s over-packed with products, services, and content.

In such a noisy world, the only way to gain traction is by FOCUSING.

You’ve got to focus on a niche, your slice of the market, to get noticed, attract an audience, and resonate with that audience if you want your business to succeed.

No Niche Focus? Your Biz Is Doomed

Many people believe that a niche is an industry or a demographic. Those factors contribute to a niche but my experience has shown that the more FOCUSED the niche, the more successful you can become.

Why? Because even a tiny niche is powerful IF the need and desire for products or services is high.

Some case studies:

My friend Marcia is in the business valuations arena  (she helps companies determine how much they are really worth if they want to be sold). Her clients are primarily attorneys who handle trust and estates matters. Her niche is NOT all lawyers – just trust and estates lawyers.

My colleague Kathleen has an embroidery business. She has an unbelievable niche that emanated out of her love of Cowboy and Rodeo related things. Her niche: women who love cowboy-related things: boots, hats, rodeos , etc. Her facebook page, Cowgirl Heart and Soul has over 15000 followers!

My friend Catherine has a love of luxury and travel so she’s turning her passion into a business and targeting the luxury traveler.

There Is No Niche Magic – Just Strategy

Whether or not to niche your business is not the question… The real question is How To Select The Right Niche?.

Well there are 3 things you must focus on when selecting your ideal niche:

1. You’ve got to find the niche interesting and appealing. If you don’t, you wont continue doing the work to cultivate and nurture this niche. David Geffen, music and entertainment mogul, was crazy about folk music back in the 70’s. Impassioned about this music niche, he helped folk megastars like Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and The Eagles get their start in the LA club scene. The rest is history.

2. You’ve got to KNOW YOUR NICHE inside and out  – who they are, what makes them tick, what their problems are, what keeps them up at night, what they are hungry for, and how they purchase. That takes some research – but so does any business initiative if it’s to become successful. When your niche knows you understand their world and their issues and their buzz words, they immediately are drawn to you over others who are not as familiar with their world.

I didn’t know a thing about the public accounting profession when I started working with those clients. I learned quickly about their needs, their challenges, their busy season, their firm structures, and what kept them up at night (usually their clients). Then I was able to attract more clients in that arena because they knew I understood their business and challenges.

3. You’ve got to learn where your niche can be reached and communicate with them in their language, speaking directly to their needs and wants. Where are they congregating – online and in person. Where do they search, what articles do they read?

It’s a pretty simple formula. But most business people get lazy – or more commonly – fearful. They believe if they narrow their market they’ll reduce the business opportunity. Not! Your potential will only increase when you zero in on a target market plus it will make your marketing efforts SO much easier. You won’t have to be everywhere to get noticed – just where your ideal niche is.

I know – it is a bit counter-intuitive but the more focused your niche, the more you will get noticed and loved by your audience.

So start capturing your slice of success pie.

WAIT! Before you leave…  to help you “Know Your Niche”, I’ve got a special free gift for you

 A Super Simple Niche Selector Cheat Sheet!


Oh, and if you have a great niche story or a question, I would love for you to share in the comment box below!

10-Min Way To Stay In Touch & Pump Up Sales

It’s that time of year when we naturally stay in touch – with family, friends, clients and colleagues. It feels so wonderful to be in connection with the people in our lives.

So, why don’t we do this year round in our business when it would maximize our results?

Case in point:

My client, Eric is an intellectual property attorney.

He was disturbed because his referrals seemed to be drying up.

I asked, “When was the last time you put a stay in touch campaign out there to your connections?”

He said, “I know, I know. You’re right. But I’m so busy.”

You know and I know:

Busy won’t grow new business for you.

(this is a good one to tweet- just click!)


Eric and I put a put together a simple but powerful STAY IN TOUCH CAMPAIGN. It was comprised of content and other high-value communications, some digital and some more personal, “dripped out” (consistently, regularly sent out at designated intervals) to key referral sources, colleagues, current clients and past clients over the next 6 months.

This sounds like it would take a huge amount of time, right? It is a campaign, after all.

Not so.

Each stay in touch effort took no more than 10 minutes! Less time than drinking a cup of coffee.

The results? Not surprisingly, Eric’s referrals started to flow again.

But so much more happened:

  • A past client engaged Eric for two new matters.
  • A connector friend of his invited Eric to speak at his national conference – an entire audience of targeted ideal prospective clients.
  • A referral source asked him to meet with his top two corporate clients – great new leads in his ideal target network.

However, one former client told him, “I wish you had contacted me a couple of weeks ago. I just hired another attorney.”

When Eric asked him why, he said:

“Because he reached out to me at the right time when I needed the advice.”

All of these results demonstrate how necessary it is to stay in touch with people in your professional life, and the high price when you don’t.

Did a smart stay-in-touch campaign take a little time and thought? Yes, of course.

But look at the payoff.

A consistent Stay In Touch program will:

  • Get you more business with current clients and reactivate previous customers and clients.
  • Help you land more leads with key prospects.
  • Entice new referrals and
  • Open doors to lots of unexpected opportunities in your current business and beyond.

I’d going to make it super easy for you to create your own Stay In Touch/Pump Up Your Leads & New Clients Campaign with a simple 5 steps/10 minutes roadmap.

Just click on the link and you can download your complimentary Roadmap. It’s a smart and easy way to ramp up and stay up in your business in 2014.


How To Become A Book Author & An Authority Fast

How To Become A Book Author & An Authority Fast

Many of you know that I published my book on networking this year, Network Like A Fox: A Targeted Approach To Building Successful Business Relationships In Person & Online .

Was it spectacular – setting a goal, working toward accomplishing that goal, seeing it come to fruition? You bet. But the fruits of these labors were so much bigger than these feelings.

First, and most importantly, I’ve gotten wonderful comments from the readers who have been helped and encouraged by the information I shared in the book. That’s incredibly rewarding. But then there are the pragmatic business reasons:

Why Become A Book Author

Now that I’m the author of a “real book” vs. just an e-book or a booklet, my positioning as an authority on my topic has accelerated more powerfully and faster than I ever thought possible.

I’ve exponentially multiplied my speaking engagements to bigger and better audiences.

I’ve attracted bigger and better clients.

I’ve leveraged the book into courses and other business opportunities.

Here are 5 savvy reasons it’s worth the time, effort, and money (yes, it does take an investment to become an author in today’s marketplace) to write your book:

1. You are given expert/authority status almost immediately.

2. You gain much greater visibility in your niche or field.

3. You attract new and unexpected business or career opportunities, and can make real money from the sale of the books – even if you never become a best-seller on Amazon.

4. You reach many more people more quickly.

5. You distinguish yourself from all the other competitors in your field.

How To Become A Book Author Fast

Writing a book – if it’s a how-to book – doesn’t have to take a massive amount of time unless your topic requires a lot of research.

Before you embark on this process here are 5 tips to making this project come to fruition faster and more easily:

1. Be clear about your end purpose – speaking assignments, public relations visibility, making money from the sale of books, new clients, job offers. Your end purpose will help you focus on how you write, execute, and market the book. This will also help you determine if you should self-publish or seek a book agent.

2. Make sure your topic is in demand – check out Amazon and other book selling sites to see how many books are already published on your topic.

3. Do a Google search for the topic and see how many other searches have been conducted for the topic.

4. Cover your topic from a unique, maybe even “disruptive” angle. Today, disruptive sells.

5. Repurpose content you’ve already produced on your topic. Review your current body of content -blog posts, tip sheets, videos, articles, white papers. Strategize about how to incorporate this content into your book. This can greatly speed up your process.

The 3 Smartest Things I Did To Get My Book Produced On Time

My deadline for finishing the writing of my book was December 31, 2012. I finished the first draft a few days ahead of schedule. How?

1. I had a system for writing and developing content and worked it religiously. I was committed and determined to fulfill on my objective – on time. Oh, yes – I also told people I’d be done by Dec. 31. Nothing makes you take action more than announcing your goal publicly to others.

2. I hired a project manager for the editing and the book cover creation.

3. I had a clear marketing strategy for how I wanted to leverage the book for business opportunities. Mine was to market the book into companies, firms, and organizations, having them buy the book in bulk, and not deal with any returns.

Since the publishing of my book in May I have already recouped my initial investment, am now speaking and leading workshops all over the country on a topic I am passionate about, and have upgraded my status as an authority and my client attraction.

To paraphrase Nike, stop dreaming and “Just Write It.”

If you’d like to find out how The Business Fox can help you turn your know-how into a real book, write me at with I Want To Become A Book Author in the subject line.

Your ideas matter: PUT YOUR COMMENTS BELOW NOW – tell us why YOU would love to write a book.


How To Make Your Body Language Say The Right Things In Business

How To Make Your Body Language Say The Right Things In Business

I  have always been fascinated by the topic of body language, the messages our bodies transmit in non-verbal ways.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to interview one of the top CEO’s of a major publishing company.

We had a great conversation: he was smart, warm, charming, and…..nervous.

How did I know this?

He couldn’t make eye contact with me.

I found that fascinating… a major CEO was struggling with confidence.

Recently, I watched Amy Cuddy’s popular TED Talk: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are . What I loved about social scientist Cuddy’s talk was the focus she placed not on how we could read others’ body signals, but how we could generate our own physical positions to influence and shape what we wanted others to get about us. Now that’s powerful!

In this talk, Amy confirms what I am always telling my clients: “They may not remember what you tell them; they will ALWAYS remember how you made them feel”. Your stance, your confidence, your presence often trumps your information, credentials, data.

Given two people with similar credentials, smarts, degrees, the one who gets attention and results will be the one with greater confidence and presence.

You can have the best diploma but what they really are buying is you.

So it makes sense that you should and could gain mastery over your body language, right?

Imagine….oozing non-verbal cool confidence and power when

  • you are being interviewed for a job
  • you are selling an idea in a meeting in your organization
  • you are networking with sweet spot prospects and decision makers
  • you are pitching potential clients
  • you are making a public presentation
  • you want an job candidate to say yes to your offer

Nice image, eh?

Change your body, change your mindset.

Tony Robbins has been teaching this for years: Shift your body energy, elevate your power and confidence.

According to Cuddy, when we “small up” our body stance, our testosterone levels lower (resulting in a loss of power and confident emotional level) and our cortisol hormone increases (elevating our stress level). The reverse is true when we adopt power stances- we actually control these hormone levels in our body and thus shift our emotional states!

So how can you leverage this information in situations when you want to exude magnetic power and influence, generate people liking you, listening to you and your ideas?

2 Minute Power Pose

You may remember the movie scene with Diane Keaton in the movie, Baby Boom. Diane plays a former hot-shot executive-turned-single mom. She develops a runaway success business that her former company wants to buy. The offer is so big it makes Diane’s character quake in her high heels. She excuses herself, scoots into the ladies, looks at herself in the mirror, adopts a power pose, cries, “Yes, I’m back!” and heads back into the boardroom totally pumped up. Then she leads the rest of the meeting, standing in that same head of the table “power pose.”

So, before your next networking event, prospect meeting, interview, speech, pitch, take 2 to Power-Pose it up:

Power Pose 1 : The Victory V

big v for vicotry





Power Pose 2. The Superman or Superwoman Stance

   superman power stance




Power Pose 3. Table Lean

lean on table stance




Power Pose 4: Arms Folded Behind Head/Smile

smiling arms folded back





Power Pose 5: Fist Pump

fist pump woman





Just looking at these photos makes you feel strong, powerful, enthusiastic, doesn’t it?

Make your body shape your mind and then the minds of all around you.

Do a little private power posing before key events and moments, watch your power and influence rise along with your results.

If you’d like to see Amy Cuddy’s 21 minute TED Talk go here:  Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

I’d love to hear your stories of bad and good body language!

Comment below.