No one likes to think their successes are the result of pure chance. Most cite their hard work and diligence first, giving the roll of the dice last billing in the achievement department. Why give all that credit to something beyond our control?
In their new book, Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business, Thor Muller and Lane Becker argue that luck is not only within your control, it’s something you must harness as your own personal ally. We’re not talking about “dumb luck” here, but rather something the two successful entrepreneurs call “planned serendipity,” or the ability to take chance experiences and distill them into eight skills: motion, preparation, divergence, commitment, activation, connection, permeability, and attraction.
In this portion of the book, Muller and Becker show readers how to practice the skill of divergence, making difficult decisions in order to take advantage of challenging, serendipitous environments. They use the separate paths of two major book retailers to illustrate their point. Read on to find out how Barnes & Noble was able to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace, and how Borders’ response to the same problem left customers cold.
We all like to think we’d jump at a brilliant idea if it smacked us in the head, but few of us or our companies ever do. This, more than anything, is why people like to say that ideas are cheap. In truth, great ideas are priceless, but we only know which ideas are great with the benefit of hindsight. Without a mindset to try out divergent paths, uncertainty and inertia conspire to keep us ignorant. Continue reading »
The following is an article contributed to The Weekly Book Scan by career coach Nancy Anderson. Anderson is the author of the new book Work With Passion in Midlife and Beyond (New World Library, 2010). Buy the Book >
By Nancy Anderson
Joanna was an administrator in a public health agency when she came to me for help with her career. She had two graduate degrees, a large income, and a prestigious title. But endless meetings and the time it took to implement her ideas drove her crazy. To cope with her frustration, she overate and drank too much alcohol.
When I asked Joanna what she did when she was not working, she said she got up early on weekends to organize her house and garage. She loved organizing so much her neighbors asked her to get their homes and garages in order.
“Why don’t you do that for a living?” I asked.
“What, clean houses and garages?” Joanna asked. “My doctor father would have a fit if he thought I was going into such a lowly business. Don’t forget he paid for my two graduate degrees in health administration.”
Here you have an example of how the fear of criticism stops creativity in its tracks. Continue reading »
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Reaching Out: The Financial Power of Niche Marketing By Doris Barrell and Mark Nash (Dearborn Real Estate Education) 148 pp., $25.95
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Amidst growing competition and consolidation in the real estate industry, niche marketing allows real estate professionals to cultivate a loyal, consistent client base. Reaching Out: The Financial Power of Niche Marketing shows you how to select a niche group and develop marketing programs that appeal to that group.
The book identifies more than a dozen emerging and established market niches—such as single women head of households, seniors, immigrants, and military relocations—and shows you how to research, identify, and pursue these markets. “Steps to Niche Marketing Success,” a series of interactive, hands-on exercises at the end of most chapters, help readers formulate a niche-marketing plan.
The book includes an afterword, “Fair Housing Law in Practice,” by lawyer Marcia L. Russell that offers tips and strategies for working within the law when targeting a niche market.
The book’s “In Real Life” anecdotes draw on the authors’ marketing and real estate experiences. Barrell has worked in the real estate industry for more than two decades. In addition to working as a trainer and consultant, she is the author of Real Estate Finance Today and Ethics and Real Estate. Nash, who also has worked as a trainer, is a Chicago-area real estate practitioner and author of The Original New Agent’s Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate .
Tips for Real Estate Professionals
- Find a niche that complements your interests. List all the spiritual, social, business, political, sports, and volunteer groups in which you or your spouse participate. Then do the same for your relatives and closest friends. Look for any reoccurring themes through these lists that point towards a potential niche. Ask yourself the following questions to find a niche that you can comfortably and effectively work within: What’s special about me? What unique skills do I have that could be helpful to others? What do I most enjoy doing? What area would I like to become an expert in? Which of my present clients do I most enjoy working with? “Niche marketing is not for agents who want immediate sales response,” ; the authors write. “It is for those who enjoy deriving some nonfinancial compensation in addition to the commissions, rewards that come from helping a niche grow, evolve, and prosper.” The authors point out that you are actually building a sub-business, so you need to lay the foundation of doing research and establishing relationships before you realize the rewards.
- Analyze your current customer base. A successful niche market may be closer than you think. Studying the demographics of your established customers might provide insight into a potential niche. “You might find that you are … working a niche market whether that was your original intent or not,” the authors write.
- Study the competition. Entrenched competitors can make it more difficult to crack a niche market. If there are other real estate professionals in your area that target your prospective niche, ask yourself whether the market is large enough to support more than one company. Secondly, how could you differentiate yourself from competitors?
- Marketing to your niche. Once you determine a niche that you want to pursue, the authors recommend that you establish a strong business plan and marketing plan. Make sure the plans have concrete action steps with deadlines. The authors recommend that you spend at least 10 percent of your annual income marketing yourself—but know that it may take time to get the return on that investment with a niche market. “If it takes at least eight repetitions before anyone will even recognize your name, how long does it take to establish a relationship?” the authors write. “Developing a special market takes time and patience.”
- Consider a sub-niche. Focus is important to successful niche marketing. You may want to concentrate on a segment within a general niche market. For example, rather than targeting first-time homebuyers, you may want to take aim at first-time homebuyers interested in buying distressed properties. Or rather than pursuing a general market such as baby boomers, you may want to zero in on baby boomers interested in golfing, skiing, or purchasing second homes.
- Sales Clinic: A Mature Approach to Niche Marketing, Walter Sanford, March 2003.
- Sales Clinic: Bypass Competitors: Find a Niche , Walter Sanford, August 2002.