KaiDavis.com ยป Articles

What can cybercriminals teach you about specialization?

This article on How Cybercriminals Recruit and Look for Skilled Developers (https://insights.dice.com/2020/02/10/how-cybercriminals-recruit-skilled-developers/) gives an interesting perspective into specialization in a very unique niche.

Quoting from the article:

A deeper look into these underground forums, whether originating in Russia or elsewhere, shows that, much like mainstream programming, certain skills are a must among cybercriminals.

For instance, Guirakhoo and his fellow researchers at Digital Shadows found that underground developers who are proficient with Python and C/C++ are currently in demand.


Many threat actors choose to specialize in one area of cybercrime, such as carding or hacking. Often threat actors become experts in one or two programming languages, dependent on the language that most suits the projects they are involved in….

Even in this out-there example, the core concepts of specialization still apply.

By specializing in a particular problem or project, you better communicate to prospective clients, “This is something I can help you solve. This is a problem I’m experienced in solving.” That benefit applies to you even if your specialization is only marketing-deep (on your website, collateral, and marketing you say “We specialize in A,” even if you also do B, C, and D).

If you want to be the more trusted option within any target market, you need to specialize in what your market cares about.

  • Step 1 is figuring out what your market cares about. That could look like having a few informational conversations with other service providers or potential clients, doing a deep-read of a forum that focuses on your target market, or following another market research path.
  • Step 2 is figuring out what problem/project you’re going to specialize in. Of the things that your market cares about and outcomes they want to achieve, is there a particular problem or project that appeals to you (or that you could learn to love)? Focus on that.
  • Step 3 is figuring out your sub-specializations. For your problem or project of choice, what tools or resources do you need to develop a specialization in to succeed (e.g., tools, languages, methodologies, apps)?

No matter if you’re selling cybercrime-as-a-service or helping Shopify stores get found online and get more traffic, the same core steps and principles apply.

Your turn. Send back a short reply with your answers to these three questions:

  • What’s your target market? Who do you help?
  • What project/problem do you specialize in?
  • What sub-specializations do you have that serve the projects/problems you specialize in?



Activity-Based Lead Generation

Let’s end the week with a (great) reader question:

What are some leading indicators to measure progress in habits that should generate leads?

I have a lot of thoughts on this.

First, this is similar to the concept of Activity-Based Selling (more here: https://kaidavis.com/videos/activity-based-selling/). That is, you’re identifying the leading indicators that correlate with “doing the work to sell more things” and then tracking them overtime to make sure you’re taking the right actions.

How does this differ when it comes to lead generation (or as I’ll call it, Activity-Based Lead Generation)?

The first difference is your actions aren’t as clear out of the gate as with Activity-Based Selling. Because Activity-Based Selling is based on moving someone forward through the stages in your sales pipeline (e.g., https://share.getcloudapp.com/DOuA1GE5), it’s easier to identify activities that move someone forward (like ‘send a follow-up email’ or ‘schedule a meeting to discuss proposal’).

With Activity-Based Lead Generation, it’s a bit more… squishy. You want to focus your time and attention on the habits that bring you more leads, but what should you focus on?

As I say in my book Get More Leads! (https://kaidavis.com/leads/), if you want to get more leads, you need to do two things:

  1. Make things (e.g., content, sales pages, marketing assets, interviews, offers)
  2. Tell people about them (e.g., outreach, podcast tours, write guest articles, webinars, have conversations)

So, reader, if you’re wondering what to track, the answer is that it depends.

You and your personality, your available time, the marketing habits you want to build, your target market and niche, and your overall marketing strategy all affect what you could be tracking as leading marketing indicators.

These are a few excellent starting points to consider as you work on building your lead generation habits:

  1. How much time have you scheduled this week to work on your marketing and lead generation?
  2. How much time have you planned this week to research your target market? (e.g., read articles, listen to interviews, watch talks, read books)
  3. How much time have you scheduled this month to try and stimulate conversations with people in your market? (e.g., informational interviews, market research conversations, conversations with leads, marketing outreach, sales outreach, informal conversations)
  4. How much time have you scheduled this month to write content? (e.g., blogs, articles, guides, ebooks, social content, email templates)

And a few lagging indicators that I enjoy. These can be at the ‘quarter’ or ‘month’ view.

  1. How many pieces of content have you published so far this month/quarter? (e.g., times you’ve hit the publish button)
  2. How many outreach emails have you sent to colleagues, cooperative competitors, audience owners, or new contacts this month/quarter?
  3. How many conversations have you had with people in your target market so far this month/quarter?



Client feedback, ‘fringe benefits,’ and testimonials

Over the weekend, I started to reread my copy of Value Based Fees (link), and I opened to this quote:

Constantly survey your past clients to determine your full breadth and scope…. We are often ignorant of what the client feels has been the true impact of our partnership. Clients will often say, “What surprised me is that we were able to do this in addition to what we discussed. That was a great fringe benefit.” Fringe benefits to one party are primary benefits to another.

As Alan Weiss points out in VBF, this feedback from your past clients helps you better understand aspects of your services to highlight to future clients AND how your services are more valuable than you think (so you can charge more).

How to make a habit of surveying your past clients

Is it just me, or does the idea of surveying your past clients feel a bit… uncomfortable?

To make this feel more natural, what you can do is take a standard, expected process (e.g., asking for a testimonial) and add a few additional questions to understand what the client feels has been the real impact of your work together.

To get you started, Meg Cumby (testimonial titan & case study celebrity) and I put together the Ultimate Testimonial Guide (a 100% free resource).

This guide outlines a repeatable process you can follow to survey your clients and gather feedback and insights. While the questions we recommend are meant to help you get a great testimonial, this process also enables you to learn more about your partnership’s true impact with your client.

Here’s how to use this:

If you’re looking for the best way to get started with testimonials, the (free) Ultimate Testimonial Guide has the information you need https://kaidavis.com/courses/client-testimonials/ultimate-testimonial-guide/.

Or, get expert testimonial help

If you’re looking for expert help to get testimonials and client feedback, check out Meg Cumby’s services (https://megcumby.com/work-with-meg/). Meg specializes in getting you high-quality testimonials and case studies without the awkwardness.

Her Client Success Stories are great to read through https://megcumby.com/clientstories/.

Here’s what one of Meg’s clients has to share about working with her:

My biggest fear was having someone else talk to my client without me there. What put me at ease was seeing that Meg had a clearly defined process for the service and that she conducted herself professionally in our conversations. I could see that she knew exactly what she was doing and would get better results than if I were to collect the testimonials myself. — Mike Julian, CEO, Duckbill Group



Revisiting The Law of Raspberry Jam

Again and again, I’m drawn back to Gerald Weinberg’s The Law of Raspberry Jam.

The more you spread it, the thinner it is.

As indie consultants & freelancers, the law of raspberry jam is one that we violate at our peril. Think about the essential marketing items that you need in place to market your business, grow, and generate leads:

  • A narrow, specific target market for your positioning
  • An expensive problem that you solve for your clients
  • An ideal client that you’re trying to get in touch with
  • Specific marketing channels you’re consistently using to reach your target market

If you spread any of these out, your marketing starts to get… thin. Would you want:

  • A broad target market? (e.g., small business positioning kaidavis.com/small-business-positioning/)
  • A not-so-pressing problem to solve for your clients?
  • Just a fuzzy idea of who your ideal client might be?
  • A new marketing channel each month (or week)?

The more you spread your marketing, the thinner your marketing gets.

But, you can always identify where your marketing is thinner than you want it to be and define a plan to improve (https://kaidavis.com/levels/).

That is to say, if you have a broad, ill-defined target market, you can look at your past clients and identify the best. You can then update your positioning (e.g., target market, tagline) to focus on this narrow, more specific target market.

Likewise, if you’re suffering from a general, vague idea of who your ideal client is, you can take the time to think through the attributes (e.g., market, maturity) and qualities (e.g., friendly, pays invoices on time) of your ideal client. You can then update your screening/application process to help you better identify who is a fit and who isn’t before you start working together.



Talking Testimonials (And Celebrating Successes)

One thing that I’ve long believed (but failed to practice) is that when you receive a new testimonial, you should take the time to tell people about it.

As Directive #8 tells us:

Be the first to celebrate your own successes. ‘If I ain’t cheering for me, why would anyone else?’

Today? I’m delighted to share a pair of new testimonials (and a slight reworking of the copy on my Marketing Clarity Call offering https://kaidavis.com/services/call/).

Here’s what Mitzi Perdue shared with me as a testimonial right after we finished our Marketing Clarity Call:

I’m thrilled by our time together! I calculate that with the five super-tips you gave me, that your time was worth to me roughly 50 times what I paid for it. You are so personable and knowledgeable and helpful. — Mitzi Perdue, Businesswoman, Author, and Professional Public Speaker

And here’s what Jakub Zajicek shared about his experience with the Marketing Clarity Call when I sent him over the testimonial questions from The Ultimate Guide to POWERFUL Client Testimonials (https://kaidavis.com/ultimate-testimonial-guide/)

“In the first 10 minutes of the call, I immediately saw a positive ROI”

I booked a Marketing Clarity Call with Kai because I was unclear on some steps in my Podcast Outreach process. I had a bunch of questions about Podcast Outreach and I couldn’t find answers online simply because my questions were too specific.

I decided to speak with Kai because of his level of experience and the overall vibe around his communication: no hyping, no income claims, and clearly stating the price. Plus, I had purchased a couple of his materials in the past, so I was sure that it would be money well-spent. ๐Ÿ™‚

After the call, I have more clarity, more confidence, and actionable steps to take with my outreach. I thought that my process and numbers sucked, but thanks to Kai, I can see that I’m above average. With the tips from Kai, I’m sure that I can become one of the best podcast booking agencies in the long run.

I strongly recommend having a Marketing Clarity Call with Kai. In the first 10 minutes of the call, I immediately saw a positive ROI. The level of his preparation and ability to answer even the most complicated questions surprised me in the best possible way.

— Jakub Zajicek, Podcast Outreach Consultant

If you’re looking for actionable, specific, and helpful advice on marketing and growing your business as an indie consultant, there are call times available starting on July 1st.

Run, don’t walk, to https://kaidavis.com/services/call/, and schedule your 1-on-1 Marketing Clarity Call today.



p.s., If you’re thinking “Hm, how do I get POWERFUL client testimonials,” then you’ll want to check out The Ultimate Guide To Testimonials, a free resource that Meg Cumby and I created, right here: https://kaidavis.com/courses/client-testimonials/ultimate-testimonial-guide/

Getting rid of that pain in your neck

Not a pain in the neck client (though if you have that pain, you should most likely fire that client).

I’m talking about a literal pain in your neck.

A few months ago, a friend (and fellow Indie Consultant) mentioned that their back, neck, and shoulders started to ache.

They had been pulling late nights working on a large project, and their posture while working at their computer had degraded into that uncomfortable hunched back and leaned forward head.

I shared a slightly unorthodox recommendation with my friend: get thee to a physical therapist!

For most of my life, I assumed that physical therapists were there to help you recover from the more substantial injuries in life (e.g., car accident, slip and fall, muscle tear).

Turns out, they also help their clients improve movement and posture as well as manage pain.

If you’re feeling more and more aches from working on your computer (at a desk or on the sofa) or craning your neck down to use your phone, a physical therapist can help. They can recommend posture tips for your unique situation and specific exercise routines to follow to fix up your posture and unwind the tangled mess of knots in your neck, back, and shoulders.

The other resource that I strongly recommend you explore is yoga. My yoga habit changed for the better and become consistent once I discovered Glo (https://glo.com). Glo’s extensive online library of yoga classes and Yin/restorative yoga1 makes it super easy to practice. During my workday, I’ll often go to my living room and do a ~10-15 minute Yin session to unwind my back.

Yoga (especially Yin/restorative yoga) can provide a lot of relief for your back/neck/shoulders if you’ve had bad posture while working at your computer.

And, dear reader, if you see a Physical Therapist or start Yoga and realize that you have two pains in your neck (one from bad posture at your computer and one from a hard to work with client), I recommend you let that client go to make space for the new, better, higher-paying clients in your future.



  1. Restorative yoga helps an unhealthy body, or an injured body, restore itself to normal, back to healthy, back to uninjured. While Restorative yoga focuses on restoring bodies with particular ailments, Yin yoga works deep into the connective tissues to activate change at that deepest level. โ†ฉ

Premium Pricing For Priority Projects?

When it comes to client projects, what do you do when you get booked solid, but the leads keep knocking on your door? Tap reply and let me know, I’m curious what you do.

Thinking on this (and talking about it in https://freelance.camp, my micro-community for indie consultants and freelancers) three options come to mind:

One option is to turn new clients/projects away.

I’m booked solid right now. I can provide you with a few referrals to other folks who might be able to help you out.

Another option is to let folks know that you’re booking X weeks (or X months) out.

I’m booking new work for <s>August</s> September. As a next step, let’s get on a call, discuss what you need help with, and see if our timelines match up.

But! There’s a third option. What if you had intentionally set a client slot aside?

With this, you’re selling time that you’d typically use for working on your business. If a client wants to buy that time out and get ‘priority access,’ they can pay a premium and start working with you now (or, soon) instead of not working together at all or waiting X months to work together.

If you usually charge $1,500 for a project, you could sell this priority access for, say, at $2,000 or $2,500 for the client slot.

This isn’t a new idea by any means. You can look at service providers in almost any industry out there and find examples of premium pricing for priority access.

But I’m curious, what do you do when you’re booked solid, but someone wants to work with you now? Tap reply and let me know and feel free to share as much or as little as comes to mind.



p.s., there’s also a fourth option of ‘start work with the new client now at your normal rate even though you’re booked solid,’ but that’s an unhealthy, stressful option that is in no way endorsed by your friend Kai or The House of Consultants.