Market your Agency

In your business plan you defined your market-a group of organizations or individuals-and your poduct or service. In other words, your customers and what you're going to sell them. This is your focus. Stay with it for a while. Don't be like the man in the Stephen Leacock story who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions at once. If you ' re selling professional liability to law firms, grow by going after more law firms. Don't go after doctors malpractice. Not yet anyway.

Find your niche and work it. The longer you stay with it, the better you will understand it and the more effective you will be in dealing with it. In a year you will be aware of marketplace subtleties whose existence you don't now suspect. In the early stages grow your book of business by selling your original product or service to an expanding customer base. Let expansion be in customers (even the same type of customers), not products.
Concentrate all your efforts on that.

There does come a time, however, when you will have gone as far as you can with that approach. It may come in six months, one year, or two years. Consider it a positive sign. You've captured about as much of your target market as you projected in your business plan. You're successful. You 're making a profit. However, you've stopped growing. And although there is no urgency about growing at any particular pace, growth is desirable. Since nothing remains the same for long. if your company doesn't grow, it might start to shrink. And that shrinkage could end in zero.

When you ' ve reached this sticking point, your initial impetus having spent its force, you need a new strategy to enable your company to keep growing. Actually, this milestone can be foreseen as part of any successful company's evolution and should be planned for well in advance.

Riches in NichesRiches in Niches

Grow your business through niche marketing. Thousands of agencies around the country have prospered by doing just that. A niche could be called a market within a market. A niche is a portion of a market that you carve out for yourself and possibly dominate (at least for a time). Sometimes a niche consists of a group of customers in a particular market who have a more specialized interest than the general members of that market. For example, insuring coin collectors is a market. Those who collect coins bearing the likeness of animals are a niche within the coin market.

If you are a smaller agency, one advantage of targeting a niche market is that it may be too small for the big corporation to go after, but plenty big enough for you to make a nice profit. On the other hand. large corporations may have their own interest in niches. It all depends on the size of the niche. The worldwide market for Coca-Cola is of course immense. But within it are people who are always dieting and like to avoid sugar. There are others who are allergic or highly sensitive to caffeine. The Coca-Cola Co. serves both these niches with its sugar-free Diet Coke and its caffeine-free Coke (and finally a combination of the two). The Bayer Corp. has long offered regular aspirin and children's aspirin for pain relief. But the landscape of pain has its niches 100. Bayer has recognized this fact and is now offering a special aspirin for backache, another for headache, and still another for arthritis.

A niche may consist of a group of customers with specialized interests in a bigger marketplace. But in thinking about niches. don't limit yourself to that definition. Actually a niche may be based on just about anything. It may consist of the customers of a particular product who aren't being served well, and that may be all the customers in that market. You start providing that service and aIl those customers with unsatisfied needs become your niche. Many times you've heard the advice that the way to succeed in business is to find a need and fill it. This is also the way you perceive and create your niche.

 

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