On Saturday night, my plane from San Francisco dropped down above the Phoenix metro area. I saw miles and miles of lights beneath me, stretching out over all corners of the valley.
We flew over the financial district, and I saw a row of big skyscrapers. The floors of each building were undoubtedly crammed with cubicles. If it were daytime, I would have been able to see tiny “SOS” signs peeking out from each window.
As I looked at this huge sea of humanity, I reflected on a conversation I had earlier in the day with a coach.
“I love the work that I do, but I am not sure how to distinguish myself from the sea of career coaches out there. Is there really a big enough market for my services?”
“Imagine two square blocks of your neighborhood,” I said. “Can you imagine that within the houses on those two square blocks (which are in the suburb of a large metropolitan city) there are some people who are struggling with issues in their career?”
“Yes!” she said.
“If you spent some serious effort connecting with just the people in your neighborhood, do you think you could develop a solid client base?”
A smile spread across her face.
We get extremely skewed views about the saturation of our markets because we spend too much dang time hanging out with each other in our tiny online enclaves.
You may worry that no one needs your expertise in social media marketing, because everyone these days is a social media consultant.
But try this experiment: walk down the main street of your town, go into the first business you find and say:
“Chris Brogan tweeted about me today!”
And watch their blank stares.
Chances are, 90% of the businesses in your town have no idea how to use The Twitter or The Facebook. And your expertise could help grow their real estate practice, or drive customers to their restaurant, or improve their relationship with their patients.
When I started this blog 5 years ago, I would never have imagined that some of my most loyal readers would be a hyper-smart software engineer in Malaysia, or a coach from the UK who was living in China, or a basketball player/hip hop artist/MBA candidate from Indonesia, or a photographer/activist from Uganda (and Texas, and the UK — he is always on the go) or a conference producer from Estonia.
This is a big, wide world.
Spend some time thinking of all the people who may need the goodness that you offer.
Your market is a lot bigger than the twenty peers you talk to all day on Facebook.