Gone are the days when we should feel the need to be all things to all people – personally and professionally. But don’t worry, I get it. As many of us who have started businesses know, those lean, early days can turn even those of us with the best and most focused intentions into ‘Yes Men’ (or women!)
You’ll know what I’m talking about here if you are currently (or can remember back to when you were), a young business and you fielded requests from customers or potential customers that fell outside your core remit. My mouth would be saying “of course we can take care of that for you”, while my brain was thinking “Really? How?” We existed to make people’s lives easier and to go the extra mile, and that’s what we did… and it worked. For many years it worked, and we assembled a fantastic team of contractors and partners who enabled us to deliver all the periphery things that we took on.
However, you learn a lot of different things as you grow in business – and I think one of the key learnings is the importance of focus. Our incredible and trusted business advisor always says: “When it comes to defining your business, and moving along the path to success, it’s just as important what you say no to, and what you don’t do, as what you do”.
People want to deal with the best, and it’s much easier to be the best when you know the one or two things that you’re freakin’ awesome at, and focus there. So, 2017 has been all about saying no. You would have heard us say this before, but it’s been about us going back to the core thing that we’re the best at (crafting incredible stories) and playing there, and there only.
That’s been our journey anyway – although I know we’re not alone in reaching this turning point. Some businesses even get the memo right from their outset; just look at the explosion of increasingly niche businesses in more recent years. From tighter targeting, to more potential to tap into influencers, there are a range of benefits when it comes to marketing to a niche audience.
However, I’m not just talking about businesses that do something for a very specific group of people here. Your market might still be relatively broad, like ours, but the thing that you do, or provide, could be increasingly specific. Either way you’ve found your niche; you’ve figured out where you want to play, so the next step is determining how you are going to win there.
I’ll leave the overall business pep talk to the strategists and the business coaches – what we’re concerned with here are stories. Once you’ve found your niche you need to cement your story. Strong brands – and strong businesses – know what they’re about and communicate that in a compelling and consistent way. There’s the prized elevator pitch – the short and sweet way you sum up what you do in the time it would take you to ascend 10 floors. But there are also all the stories that sit around and behind that too – the ones that show, time and again, what makes you special and different. The ones that bring your values to life and really resonate with people.
When you have a fixed focus, those stories become more important than ever in helping you to stand out in the crowd. Used both internally, and to your market, they become the narrative that determines how your customers and potential customers see you, and how your business feels from the inside… pretty powerful stuff!
We’re passionate about helping cool companies to craft their compelling stories so, if you’d like some help in this area, we’d love to chat.