Unlock untapped markets by finding your customers’ watering holes


If you’re an agency owner, consultant, solo entrepreneur, or small business owner who wants to attract more suitable clients, the best business development book I’ve read in two years is The widest network by Pamela Slim. The book made me think, laugh, cry, and feel noble for the work I do.

In my opinion, Slim is arguably America’s finest business development expert. This is a book to buy and keep handy. I also advise you to get it on Audible and listen.

Her book details a proven strategy for unlocking untapped markets and discovering new customers right in front of you. Her book explains how to drive unprecedented business growth by connecting with customers you don’t know and haven’t met yet.

As Slim advises, the key to meeting them is finding the waterholes where they congregate. Simply depending on referrals to populate your pipeline is weak; its strategy is proactive.

I met Slim in May 2022 at the Build A Better Agency Summit in Chicago, where she spoke with 250 owners of advertising, digital marketing and PR agencies. We caught up with a recent Zoom interview.

“Nothing helps business owners grow more strategically and faster than looking at their marketing through the prism of an ecosystem, which consists of all the services, products, organizations, events and media that correspond to your values ​​and provide your ideal customer with resources to solve their problem,” says Slim. “Your ideal customer is at the center of this ecosystem.”

The widest network is filled with concrete examples as a roadmap to follow.

“Within this ecosystem are watering holes where your ideal customers reside, such as associations, events, podcasts, popular magazines, best of lists and online groups,” says Slim. “The organizers of these watering hole hotels share a mission with you: to solve the central problem of your ideal client.

As an exercise, Slim suggests creating a list of watering holes. You may want to manage effort in a spreadsheet. Start with these categories:

1. Service providers

2. Opinion Leaders and Influencers

3. Associations and clubs

4. Religious communities

5. Media hubs

6. Events

7. Non-profit organizations

8. Government Institutions

9. Academic institutions

10. For-profit businesses

“Now that you have a starting list of watering holes, both in-person and online, where you could potentially reach multiples of your ideal customer, you’re ready to develop a deliberate and cohesive plan for making connections,” says Slender.

“Reach out to members of your selected watering holes by sharing information and resources to support their work and solve the problems of your ideal customers,” says Slim. “Sow your seeds of connection slowly and methodically and break your efforts down into small marketing actions.”

Slim’s website offers many free downloads to help you in your efforts. Additionally, from February 16-19, 2023, she is hosting a live retreat The Widest Net Retreat in Mesa, Arizona to jump-start your efforts.

For it to work, you have to work. You must act every day to plant seeds. I put his book to the test. In one week, I did what she calls “a little act of marketing” that got me a free invite to a $2,200 event that’s a watering hole full of desirable prospects, and the organizer offered to defend my work to boot. Not a bad return on investment for the price of a book.


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