In the previous article, I challenged you to focus on just one target vertical as your market.

Most consulting firms have a wide range of different ways that you can help your clients, for the many different problems that you can solve for them.

Where Does It Hurt?

For the purposes of this challenge, I’m asking you to find out what the biggest, most painful, most urgent problem they’re having that you can solve. Where can you provide value?

  1. Ideally it should be an important problem, because those are the problems that most valuable to fix.
  2. Ideally it should be an urgent problem, if it’s not urgent it will get placed on a backburner for more pressing but possibly less important issues. This is why selling prevention is always more difficult than selling a cure.
  3. Obviously, it should be a problem you can solve, and solve well.

Perry Marshall asksDo they have a bleeding neck?

 A bleeding neck is a dire sense of urgency, an immediate problem that demands to be solved. Right. Now.

If you want to make the big bucks, your product has to deal with something that involves one or both of the following: a) Pain and great inconvenience, loss of money, threat of loss, and / or b) some craving for pleasure that borders on the irrational.

If they’re not in a hurry, they’re not writing the check today.

You may be confident that you already know what this problem is, but I’ll ask you to challenge your assumptions here.

Qualitative Research


Have exploratory conversations with your clients, asking about what kind of challenges they are facing. Ask open ended questions, using Socratic questioning (intel have a great guide to Socratic questioning here – PDF). At worst, you’ll develop stronger relationships, and at best you’ll uncover some hugely valuable insights into where you can provide more value.


Another option is to perform some original research through surveying your clients or target market. Make sure that you are asking open questions – answers should be free-form text, not just multi-choice.

Conducting this research can also help you develop thought leadership content, which can help with your authority and positioning. It can also generate interest in social and traditional media for a triple-win. See my Marketing for Consultants Research Project for an example of this.