CAN YOU BE A "JACK OF ALL TRADES?"
If one of your key trusted employees came to you and said "I think we have a problem - I think we offer too many services," what would you say to them? They might even say "Sales are suffering because we confuse prospects with so many different services, and because of that, people are less likely to buy.”
The natural tendency of many business owners is to try appeal to all buyers, providing everything and anything people might need. If you do that, however, you will have less business. When you specialize and differentiate, you will be much more successful. Trying to offer everything usually creates confusion, lack of focus, frustrated staff, wasted energy and more.
Are you a disaster contractor that offers: water mitigation, sewage cleanup, fire restoration, contents pack-out, mold remediation, carpet cleaning, duct cleaning, pressure washing, trauma scene cleanup, reconstruction, electronics restoration and even more? What do you do best? What makes you the most profit? What takes up the most time with the least results? How do you train and keep skilled people in all those different services? Why are you trying to be all things to all people?
You may very well be a five, ten or fifteen year old company that has experienced a downturn, and even had a panic attack or two about possibly adding more services to try to pick up the slack and "capture" more work. Your marketing materials, promo's, advertising, and sales and marketing efforts may be costly and inefficient at best, draining away valuable time and money from your core competencies. I know many contractors that operate on the philosophy "if you want it, we sell it." Circle right back to "You cannot be all things to all people."
Possibly, somehow over the many years of existence your company lost focus on providing exceptional services in your best area of expertise. We often tend to subscribe to the common idea that expanding our line of products and services was a sure path to more success. It isn’t. What almost always happens is; the company wallows in mediocrity trying to chase every market possible. Specifically, the quality of your products and services decline, employee morale suffers, resources are wasted, sales level off, and confusion abounds.
Multinational companies are often guilty of this, but it is certainly not limited to huge corporations. This mentality debilitates small and medium-sized businesses, jeopardizing the very roots of their existence (and often puts them out of business). Remember, during the 1990’s, Apple suffered from an expansive product line that almost led it to bankruptcy. You probably know the story. It took the return of Apple’s cofounder, Steve Jobs, as CEO to turn the company around. How did he do it? Jobs eliminated nonessential product lines of the company, keeping only four. Some of his eliminations were profitable lines. When discussing the amazing turnaround in a 2008 interview, Jobs said, People think focus means saying “yes” to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying ‘no’ to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.
Pepsi-Cola stopped trying to be all things to all people in order to compete with its rival Coca-Cola. Pepsi went from being outsold by Coca-Cola in the late 1950s by five to one to being only 10 percent behind in total sales in the United States. There seems to be a foolish belief that the wider net catches more customers, in spite of numerous examples to the contrary.
We commoditize ourselves, and are happy because that’s what we thought we were supposed to do. And, if you don’t already know it, commoditization is all about lowest price… and I hope your services are all about being the very best – and that calls for higher or highest price! The last thing we want to be in the service business is a commodity – it’s highly unlikely that you will make the kind of money and profit you could if you specialized in a limited number of superb core competencies.
Yes, the challenge is deciding which core services will get the business on the track to success the fastest and the most economically. No matter how broad you consider the appeal of your product or service, not everyone will be interested in it. We tend to think that if we offer it “they will come” – one of our ego challenges! That’s why it’s important to identify the appropriate niche for your business - your sweet spot.
Once you’ve defined your sweet spot, you need to identify when and where your ideal customers get information about services like yours. You can also determine who influences their buying decisions. Do they listen to their friends on social media? Do they rely on local review sites? Do they read certain publications or visit specific websites? Do they use Google or Bing search? When you are selective and offer your core services, you don’t have to cast a wide net to engage your customer base because you can pinpoint where they are.
Don’t waste your time and money in the wrong places. Identify your target customer and develop the right marketing campaign with the right core services and specialize to make your small business a big business success.
Need help identifying your core services and creating a marketing strategy to get that business?
Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration and Commercial Marketing Consultant. 419-202-6745