Great brands are built through focus. It’s often very hard for a small company, especially a young one, to limit its concept of “who is our customer” and “what do we sell.” But trying to market all the things you might do or could do to all of the people who might use your products or services or who could use them does nothing but dilute your promise and confuse your prospects.
Here’s an example. I worked with a small company that had a new technology (pre-smart phone) to deliver information on demand to remote locations. The founders had developed gaming applications, equipment repair applications, and search-and-rescue applications for their technology. But they would have to choose an application to start with. The buyers for search-and-rescue technologies, such as FEMA or the military, would not want to buy from gamers. Likewise, those who sell or lease business equipment would probably think a company doing life-saving technologies for the government is too expensive for them. Their decision to focus on industrial customers paved the way to a thriving business.
Another one of my customers makes products to control dust on roads or dirt driveways or even on unpaved landing strips or helipads in desert war zones. At the time, their website featured all of these applications. But military officers in Afghanistan would be afraid to buy from the driveway tamers, and the homeowners would fear that a company working in war zones would be too expensive for them or that they would not get priority service. Once the company decided to focus on the high-risk military and industrial applications, their business really took off.
Here are two examples of small businesses that really focus in order to stand out. One is Blue Penguin Development, whose brand promise is “helping solo professionals get more clients, more consistently.” Founder Michael Katz started his business with even greater focus–helping small businesses get clients through their digital newsletter. Michael’s business has grown consistently since its founding because the more he gets to know his market–solo professionals–the more services he can design specifically to meet their needs. His current biggest-ticket program is a one-year group coaching plan that sells for $395 per month per person, and he’s selling it at least twice a year.
Another focused small business is Beloved Brands, founded by Graham Robertson. Graham’s promise is this: “I only do two things: 1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better . . . My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.” What’s especially important about these examples is that they are both in marketing, which is a hugely competitive field overrun with providers. As marketing professionals, each of these founders could offer a much broader set of services, but by choosing a narrow, specific focus, each is building brand awareness that differentiates them from all the others in their industry.