Uncover Your Most Profitable Zone of Influence

A couple of weeks ago, on my social media feed, there was a rising tide of questions in one specific area.

No, it’s not about how to battle the Coronavirus, which KFC outlet has the least queue for their RM20 for 2 snack plates, or where to travel to using the all-new Unlimited Flight pass by AirAsia.

(Although in hindsight, it’s amazing how positive Malaysians can be in the face of global pandemic)

No, the question was:

If I were to write a book, what topic should it be on?

Now, initially, I find it funny, because I thought the answer should be easy. The naive Maverick figured that, for a task as daunting as publishing a book, pick a topic that excites you, that motivates you, that you can’t stop talking about.

I recalled a similar question being asked of best-selling author and top podcast producer, Tim Ferriss. And his reply was, to pick an area that interest at least one person – yourself!

Selfish? Not really. The thought process was if the topic excites you, you will dig deeper and venture further in your quest to seek knowledge, and because of the passion, you will also do your best work too.

But then I realised, even if I were to give the answer to those who asked the questions, it might not be as easy as the question sounds. Which is why I said my initial reactions was naively simple (although in my defense, you probably would get a similar, profound, answer from an 8-year-old)

So, I decided to give the question some thought.

How do one pick a topic that can showcase their expertise and project their influence, and to make sure it is riding the trends of the world?

YOUR ZONE OF INFLUENCE

So while the question is on book topics, the real question behind the question is,

“What is My Zone of Influence?”

What is an area that can help me stand out from the crowd, that can position me as the obvious choice among the competitors?

What’s something that I have a strong leverage on, a pull factor instead of a push factor?

What’s something that is trending in my industry right now, that when combined with my natural assets, will give me the competitive edge?

So as you can see, it’s not just about picking a topic of your book, because that’s too small an issue. The worst thing you want is to have what you thought was the “right topic”, and when the book is out, you realized it doesn’t sell by itself, nor does it sell you, the author.

A book, aside from the knowledge it holds, is a marketing tool. It must promote an idea, and most importantly, it must promote you.

As you can see, it has now become a branding question. I promise you once you’ve identified your Zone of Influence, you will have more clarity on the other offerings you will be able to create for your market.

But if you ask me, identifying your Zone of Influence is not enough, because chances are, there is more than one zone for you.

The key is to pinpoint the Most Profitable Zone of Influence, the one area that can give you the most leverage.

And of course, as a joke went a while ago on how you can appear smart during office meetings, I’ve decided to draw a vern diagram. And to be smarter, in each circle, I’ve got a question to help you gain clarity.

Ready to uncover your Most Profitable Zone of Influence? Get a blank sheet of paper and let’s work on this together.

AUTHORITY

Question: What are you known for?

Now, that’s an over-simplistic question that just defines a portion of Authority, but let’s just roll with me for a while here. I’ll do a deeper dive into the true meaning of Authority in a separate article, so please remind me if I don’t. 🙂

So, if you were to throw the question on Facebook or Instagram, “What am I most known for?”, what answers do you think you’ll get?

I can offer a few guesses:

  • Expertise – things you are good at doing, your skills, for example
  • Experience – things you have done, something that triggers that twinkle in your eyes whenever you relive the memories
  • Passion – things you just can’t stop talking about, the very thing that keeps you up and ready in the morning, and enables you to sleep a meaningful sleep at night

Oh, and don’t let me stop you from actually asking the question on your social media question by giving you those guesses. I’m not a marketing crystal ball, and nor is that self-proclaim “guru” on your Facebook feed.

Feedback is always valuable to refine your Authority.

Write down as many items you can, from your own assessments and also the answers of others (I cannot stress how important this is). Don’t leave anything out. Even if it doesn’t seem like a topic you would want to champion, just put it down. We’re still brainstorming here, and we still have TWO other circles to help identify the overlapping area, remember?

AUDIENCE

Question: Who are your Most Profitable Markets?

You tend to be attracted to certain groups and communities, maybe it be due to similar interests, vision, or personality of the members.

Believe it or not, others will gravitate towards you as well. You have a natural pull towards different market segments, but the key here is, which one is most profitable.

If you were to list down the different groups that you have connections in, you would realize not all of them can be your clients.

For example, if you are a sales trainer, your weekly fishing group may not be as profitable as a market segment, when compared to your HR community.

Normally if we were in a class, I’ll use the SAM Score worksheet to give you more clarity on your Most Profitable Markets:

Essentially, it’s just about listing down the different market segments or groups of connection, and rank them based on these three criteria:

  • Spending Power: Do they have the financial means to buy what you offer? 5 would go to those who has it and also the decision power, and 1 would be to those on the other end of the spectrum.
  • Accessibility: How easy is it for you to tap into this group? Do you have a direct connection, which in this case will be a 5, or you will need to hunt them one by one, which will make it a 1 or 2 at best.
  • Market Size: How big is this market segment? In other others, if the Total Addressable Market is huge, almost endless, put in a 5. If it’s very small, and only a handful, put in a 1.

If you want a deeper run through on this and also to access the downloadable, reusable worksheet, click here now to access the free resource.

ANALYTICS

Question: What are the Profitable Trends now?

In the days of the past, if you have a movie script and want the production studios to back you, you’ll have to make an appointment with all of them, pitch them, and probably wait for them to think it through. Which may take forever! But it’s not their fault. They need to probably do sample testings and market research, before they put in the millions.

Now, if you were to go to Netflix or Amazon, they might shorten that time. Because by tapping into the vast database of customers and data points that they have, they might even be able to predict the number of people who will watch your film. Even before it’s produced!

That’s the power of data, and in this day and age, you must leverage it to ensure your book topics or service offerings are in demand.

For example, use Google Keyword Planner tool to identify the volume of searches for your topics. You can even look at the related search terms to help you refine your topics further.

You can also use tools like BuzzSumo to look for trending content. Look for those that are widely shared, have lots of engagements, and garnered loads of views.

And guess what? For the books you’re about write, you can even know how many “competitors” out there with similar topics and theme, and best is, how well there are actually doing? That data is priceless because before you dedicate a few months (some say years) of your life into a project, and a couple of thousands to get “coached” on the process and to produce the books, I think a smart thing to do is to first validate the book idea.

For this, I would recommend Candy Moy of Snappars Publishing, who can go beyond just giving you a detailed report of the market study, right down to how well (or badly) your competitors are doing. With their years of publishing over 100+ books, many of them best-sellers, you will also learn the strategies to Publish, Promote and Publish your book.

Think about the big mistakes you’ve made in the past, and how much it has cost you in terms of money and time. Looking back, would you invest a fraction of it to make sure you can avoid them? (If your answer is no, frankly, I think you may secretly enjoy cutting yourself too.)

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Ah, don’t you just love it when three circles overlap to reveal the magical truth? Ok, it’s probably just me.

Yes, as you’ve probably figured it out, the cross-section of the three circles is your Most Profitable Zone of Influence.

Your book topic, your service offerings, your branding position… should come from this zone. That way, you will be able to continuously create products and services that elevate your brand, and allows you to dominate your niche.

And if you’re trying to be a wise-ass and ask if you can just do with 2, well, let’s take a look at that.

If you have Authority and Audience but not Analytics, you would have picked an area you are known for that appeals to your most profitable markets, but it could be out of trend soon (if not already). Sure, you can milk it while it lasts, but do you seriously want to be at the tail end of the wave, when you can be surfing from the front?

If you have Authority and Analytics but not Audience, you have picked a good, trending topic that positions you well, but you will have to spend money on marketing to reach your target market. Sure, you can still make it work, but would you want to do it with difficulty and take up loads of your time and money? Or would you want to get an easy start, gain the momentum and gather the initial funds you need to launch a marketing campaign of a bigger scale?

If you have Audience and Analytics, but not Authority, you have picked a topic that draws a natural market, but it may be in an area you’re not good at. Sure, you can gain some popularity, but would you rather have them buy your books, read your articles and just stop there? Or would you prefer to upsell and “upserve” them with your other offerings, opening more doors to the right opportunities?

So yeah, sticking to that overlapping area, that Most Profitable Zone of Influence, is probably the best for you right now.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Well, for those of you who want to write a book, go fill up those individual circles and start your writing! But seriously, drop Candy a message on the market research before you start because you will be saving tons of cash and time you cannot get back, especially if you pick a topic that is against the trends. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it.

For those who see this guide as a way to position yourself beyond books, take this as a branding exercise so you can speak from a position of influence, create more impact and become a true inspiration. Not only will you be able to say “No” to activities that will not contribute to building your Zone of Influence, you will also gain clarity on your next steps.

Remember, while some may agree that the coffee beans at Starbucks are not as good as the nameless brands you get on the shelves, but it doesn’t change the fact that the former commands a higher price.

Why? As my buddy and mentor Dato’ James Foo would constantly remind me:

Would you want to be a commodity where your customers will decide based on price, or do you want to be a brand owner where prospects will flock to buy from you?

 

p.s. You know that friend or business associate that is constantly bugging you, trying to find out how to position himself or herself in the market? Well, tag their names below, or forward this guide to them. Help them discover their Most Profitable Zone of Influence. And when they become an influencer one day, they will point at you among the crowd of fans, and salute you for being the one responsible for getting them there. (Shivers… don’t you just get that Yoda moment? You are the Yoda in the picture!) 

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