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I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine the other day. She’s a successful video producer and boasted that she never has to do any marketing.

“Business just comes my way through word-of-mouth,” she said, which is not a very friendly thing to say when you’re having coffee with a marketing consultant (me.) Especially when that marketing consultant (me) is buying the coffee!

But a couple of minutes into the conversation, I discovered that she does a heck of a lot of marketing. She just doesn’t think of it as marketing. To her, it’s just meeting people and being helpful.

You see, she belongs to an association comprised mostly of professionals in her target market. It’s a very active group with well-attended meetings each month.

Now, here’s what she does for that association:

  • Each year, she shoots the President’s welcome message for the association’s website, in return for a short blurb about her services on the website.
  • During each monthly meeting, she walks around with a video camera on her shoulder, chatting with people and filming their comments and testimonials – pro bono.
  • Each quarter she comes in and offers members an ultra low rate to shoot short welcome videos for their websites.

In short, what she has done is position herself as the go-to video producer for just about everyone in the association. No wonder she gets so many “word of mouth” enquiries and referrals.

Now that’s great marketing.

I know what you’re probably thinking at this point. “Is there an association I can join and become active in?”

Not every association is worth your time and energy. If you want to attract more clients using this “micro niche” strategy, you need to pick your group wisely.

Try to find an association that is comprised mainly of your target market. This is fairly easy if you’re focusing on, say, fundraising executives. You can simply get active in your local chapter of their association (the AFP.)

It gets a little trickier, however, if you’re targeting a group that doesn’t have it’s own association.

In that case, explore sub-groups of larger associations. Many larger associations have several, smaller special interest groups.

For example, I work with a lot of self-employed professionals in communications. There’s a humongous association called the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). On the surface, they seem to be comprised mainly of corporate communications managers – not my target market.

But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the IABC has an active special interest group for self-employed communicators. In fact, I’ve done a few workshops for them.

And don’t forget online groups. There are a gazillion LinkedIn groups; although some are more active than others. My rule of thumb is: if someone is posting on a particular LinkedIn group at least once a day, and members regularly comment on those posts, then the group is active enough for me to take a closer look at.

Once you decide on an association to “micro niche” yourself in, don’t be a passive participant. Jump in with both feet. Volunteer. Do a talk. Explore other ways to become highly visible so everyone knows who you are and what you do.

But do me a favor? When the word-of-mouth enquiries and referrals start coming in, don’t say you’re not marketing. You’ll hurt my feelings. And I won’t pay for the coffee! 😉