But can I trust you?

May 24, 2017

trustI can’t guess how many times I’ve written about trust over the past ten years.  I’ve talked about the importance of the know • like • trust model, I’ve discussed the connection between trust and a brand’s equity and I’ve explored the role of trust in shortening the sales cycle.

Suffice it to say, trust is a cornerstone of marketing success.

But it occurred to me that when I’ve written about trust, it’s been one-sided.  I’ve focused on the trust we need from our prospects and customers in order to make them feel safe enough to make that first purchase or repeat buy.

I’ve been ignoring the whole other side of the equation. Trust has to be a two-way street or else it doesn’t work.  When you don’t feel trusted – it’s very difficult to trust. Just like in our personal relationships, it’s difficult to let down your guard enough to develop trust when you’re feeling like a criminal, based on how you’re being treated.

Think that’s a little extreme?  Think about some of the signage you see in retail locations.  “You break it, you buy it” or “video surveillance cameras in use.”

Without meaning to, in a million little ways, many businesses communicate that they don’t really trust their customers.

And if you think we have work to do in that arena – it’s nothing compared to how many organizations treat their employees. It’s pretty tough for them to trust you, trust your brand and create a trusting environment for your customers.

If you want to cultivate trust among your prospects and customers – you have to start by demonstrating trust in your own team and those same prospects and customers.

Let’s look at a couple ideas for each.  First, the customers:

Your customer service promise: Call it a pledge, a promise or a policy. Whatever you call it – make sure it’s written in simple English, errs on the assumption that 99% of your customers are honest and good people, and cuts your customers a great deal of slack.

Make it very public – post it on your website, in your store and in your contractual agreements. Celebrate the fact that you believe in your customers and in servicing them with respect and affection.

Arm your employees with both authority and resources: Every time a customer complains or has a bad experience and you make them wait for a manager to resolve it, it feels like you don’t trust them or their story.   You also teach them that you don’t have enough confidence in your team to give them the ability to resolve the issue. But when your employees can immediately respond and fix the problem, the customer feels heard and that your organization believed them and their concern.

And now, for showing your employees that you trust them:

Treat them like grown-ups: Flip through your employee manual.  Are the rules for adults or does it assume that your team will act like teenagers trying to sneak out after curfew?  Too many employee rules are made for the few, not the majority. Create rules that make it clear to your employees that you hold them both capable and accountable.

Ask for help: Nothing says “I believe in you and your abilities” more than asking someone for their help. Involve your employees in key decisions involving customer-facing policies, pricing or R&D options.  You can’t just give this tactic lip service.  You actually need to listen.  The upside of that – you’re going to learn more than you think.

Remember that the know • like • trust model is a two-way street.  What are you doing to pave the way to trust for your customers and employees?



What does your welcome mat say?

April 19, 2017

WelcomeWhat does your welcome mat say?  Several summers ago, I spent some time in Europe with my daughter celebrating her college graduation and even though I was on vacation, I couldn’t help but see things through a marketing lens.

One of the places we visited was Madrid, Spain and neither of us spoke very much Spanish. I was eavesdropping as we did our tourist thing and I would say about 50% of the people in Madrid are from the United States or Canada and spoke English. It was interesting to me to see how different businesses react to the challenge/opportunity of a non-Spanish speaking guest.

Just a note – we try very hard to show our respect for the countries we visit and always learn many of the more common phrases. We address everyone in Spanish in terms of greetings, directions, saying please and thank you, etc. We certainly don’t expect them to Americanize their country, but we are hardly fluent and are very self conscious of that fact.

My point isn’t about communicating in Europe but instead, how some of the business owners have recognized an opportunity to attract more foreign guests by making it clear that they’ll be welcomed and accommodated. And even more to the point – It got me thinking about how we can adopt that same attitude, even if we don’t face a language barrier with some of our potential customers.

Some establishments make it clear by displaying English versions of their menus, by having a large sign that says, ”we speak English” or by hoisting a British flag near their entrance. This was true in the more tourist crowded parts of the city as well as some of the very local pubs, where we were the only non-locals in the joint.

All of this got me wondering – how do we put out welcome mats (or not) for our potential customers?

Identify your outliers: First think about who, beyond your usual customer, might need your services/products. Is there a group of people who are “lingering” outside your door and just need to be invited in? Might they actually be even more grateful for your product or service, if they felt welcome? Imagine what that kind of word of mouth among their peers might be worth to you.

Move the barriers: Could it be there’s a communication barrier of some kind in the way? It may not be a language issue but are you using jargon that tells the novices they’re not welcome? And remember, sometimes it’s what you don’t say that gets in the way. What might make a potential customer pause and re-think “walking through your door?”

Add more welcome mats: Let’s assume you either have a literal front door to your business or your website is your virtual one. How welcoming are they? Do they reassure that fringe audience that you not only can help them but you really want to? Do you have a way for them to see themselves as your customer? That could be anything from a FAQ section that answers their specific questions, testimonials that come from folks just like them or a marketing tool that explains how you onboard new clients so they can visualize becoming one of your best customers.

You know that you want them as a customer. But they may not be as tuned in as you think. If they’re nervous about doing business with you or spending big money or switching from an old vendor – they may need a little positive reinforcement. Or it may be that they feel like an outsider or that they wouldn’t belong.

It’s your job to make sure they know just how much you’d like to help them and make it easy for them to walk in the door.





Are you a commodity or are you different?

April 5, 2017


One of the first questions we ask a new client is “how are you different?” We usually hear things like:

1. Our people are better

2. Our products/services are better

But rarely do we hear – we do what we do differently than others do it. The harsh truth is, your people probably aren’t better. They may be great but your competitor’s staff is probably also pretty great. Odds are, your products and services do have rivals that are equal to what you offer. I’m sure you also have competitors who have lousy people and mediocre products/services but they’re probably cheaper than you are and that’s how they compete.

Let’s assume that there are a handful of companies who sell a product/service that is comparable to you and who have well trained, eager to serve employees. Those are your real competitors – the ones who do it as well as you do.

The danger to your business is that it’s just as easy to choose the other guy in the blink of an eye. When there’s really nothing different between you and the other companies – you all become, over time, average.

And that’s a very scary place to be. The reality today is that average doesn’t cut it. There are so many places I can get a “decent” buying experience. If that’s all that is available to me – why wouldn’t I then decide who to do business with based on the resources I hold most dear in a buying transaction:

  • My time
  • My money

I put those in that order on purpose. Today’s most scarce resource for the vast majority of consumers and business buyers is time.

I love the Buy Local movement but there’s a problem with it. If Buy Local doesn’t offer me something special and unique – most people are not willing to spend additional resources (both time and money) to support the cause.

Without something special in how you deliver your goods or service – you become a commodity. I know that’s harsh and I know it hurts to hear it. But if you don’t offer your customers something beyond what your other worthy competitors do, it’s your reality.

So how do you avoid to commodity trap?

Be more helpful than everyone else: If you are a resource that your consumers turn to time and time again, long before they buy, then they’re going to form an attachment to you. That attachment is a combination of trust, appreciation and obligation. You’ve already been so helpful – of course they’re going to consider buying from you.

Be more memorable than everyone else: One of the biggest factors in today’s buying decisions is the experience. Make it cool. Make me feel important. Make it selfie worthy. Do something to create an experience I want to tell others about. Don’t poo poo this if you’re a B-to-B based business. Those purchasing agents, business owners and general managers will love it if you wow them.

Be easier than everyone else: Why is Amazon winning? It’s so dang easy. 24/7, free shipping (with a Prime membership) and voila, it’s at your doorstep in a day or two. Plus, they have everything from shoelaces to lawnmowers and thanks to the customer reviews – you can quickly get a sense of the product’s quality in relation to what you’re trying to buy. That’s tough to compete against.

We may not like it – but offering something of value at a reasonable price is no longer a game changer. It’s a commodity.

If you want to be a company that buyers seek out, recommend and remain loyal to – you’re going to have to do better than that. You’re going to have to change the way you deliver your product or service so that it’s downright remarkable.


Transparency leads to trust

March 29, 2017

TransparencyI really don’t like surprises. Granted, I’m anti-surprise to the extreme. I used to drive my mom crazy by ferreting out where she hid the Christmas gifts and then “guessing” what I was opening on Christmas morning. I suspect most people aren’t quite that determined to avoid surprises, but the reality is, especially when it comes to business – we don’t like them.  Your customers want transparency, not surprises.

There’s an excellent book out there by Patrick Lencioni called Getting Naked, A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty. The core message of the book is that the more transparent we can be with our customers the more they learn to trust us over time.

Businesses are often plagued with customers who have doubts, uncertainties and unexpressed concerns. Those emotions breed mistrust and worry, which leads to a lot of questioning, push back and micro managing from your clients.

I’d like to suggest that there’s a different way, as does the book Getting Naked. I think many businesses operate under the misguided notion that clients shouldn’t see you sweat, know if there’s a potential problem or will throw a fit if you explain your pricing to them.

I think that’s a recipe for disaster. Here are some areas (I call it the three Ps of Transparency) where transparency can lead to trust, better customer relationships and increased sales.

Pricing: This is probably one of the biggest areas that needs more transparency. I believe many businesses are uncomfortable talking about their pricing because they’re either not sure how to justify the cost, know they’re not the cheapest game in town or hate the negotiations that come after the initial price is outlined.

We can’t let our money insecurities trickle down to our clients. If you are uncomfortable with your price point, maybe you need to think about how to add more value to what you deliver so you actually believe the client is getting a bargain. If you can’t hold your head up high when you talk about your pricing, then the problem is in what you deliver, not with your customer.

Process: If you’d like your customers to stop calling and asking for updates, proactively give them not only an outline of the entire delivery process but frequent updates. When they know exactly where everything is at, they will stop asking.

The other factor related to process is that for some reason business people believe that they can’t admit they don’t know something. So they fake it. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t that good at faking it and the client gets this vague sense of unease, which leads to more micromanaging on their part.

Saying “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable response as long as it’s followed with an explanation of how you’re going to get the information. We have to get over the idea that our clients expect us to be perfect and all knowing.

Problems: This is the biggie. No matter how buttoned up you are, sometimes there are issues that cause delays, errors and other undesirable results. This is the worry that keeps your client awake at night. And the companion worry for them is that it’s going to be a surprise.

The minute you get an inkling that there might be a problem – tell your customer. Give them as much advance warning as possible and carefully outline the possible solutions or workarounds. If it’s your fault – tell them. Don’t mince words or make excuses. Own up to it, clearly and directly apologize and then tell them how you’re going to fix it.

If you want your customers to trust you and to grow to rely on you – remember that they know you’re human, they know mistakes happen and all they want from you is your honesty. Weave transparency into every interaction and watch the trust grow.


How’s your marketing game plan going?

March 1, 2017

Marketing Game PlanI know everyone is anxious for spring to arrive but you have to admit, March got here in a hurry. You’re almost 25% of the way through the year. How are you doing on meeting your goals? If you aren’t hitting all your key metrics, maybe your marketing game plan is a little off.

Rather than wait until late in the year to do a course correction, let’s do it now so you still have most of the year to make up any lost ground. Let’s look at some of the common mistakes that get made.

Depth not breadth: While I applaud people for being ambitious, the truth is, most marketing plans are unrealistic. Even if you had nothing else to do all day, you’d never be able to execute everything you have in your plan.

That doesn’t serve you well. What usually happens is that a company kicks off the year with all of these big and bold marketing initiatives. But because you have so many plates spinning, you can’t possibly attend to all of them. Which means none of them get enough time and attention. As plates crash to the ground, you abandon many of the tactics in the plan and really have no idea which ones could have gained traction. Or you’re very hit or miss on your execution, which sends the wrong message to your audience.

Here’s my suggestion. Do about a third of what you thought could be accomplished. But, do that one-third better than you could have imagined. Great marketing is about leaving a lasting impression. It’s tough to do that with mediocre messaging or execution.

Deadlines are not optional: When you cut out two-thirds of your tactics, you absolutely can and need to deliver on the one-third. That’s not just about quality. As mundane as it sounds – deadlines matter. When you tell someone you’re going to send out a monthly e-newsletter and it goes out 7 times a year — that sends a message. When you offer quarterly webinars but cancel them because you under promoted them and didn’t attract enough bodies –- that sends a message.

After you trim back your marketing plan to a manageable level, you must commit to the timeline. This is particularly challenging if you wear other hats in the business. It’s easy to run from customer fire to customer fire. I hate to tell you, but the only time your own marketing is on fire is when the ship is about to sink. Don’t wait for that to happen. Your customers make their needs a priority for you. You have to do the same for your own marketing. If you do not carve out and protect the time, it just won’t get done.

Talk less, listen more: The marketing monologue is dead. There are so many ways for your consumers to talk to you, about you and around you – you’ve got to make listening a priority.

Do it formally by launching customer surveys, creating a client review board, or ask your best clients to test new products for you as part of an insider’s club. Do it informally by chatting with them at trade shows about how they’ve adapted your products, hang out with them on Facebook or in forums where they gather to talk about their work challenges.

Your best customers have plenty to say. Your least satisfied customers have plenty to say. The ones in the middle don’t care enough but if you show them that you care, they just might.

I know you’re probably tired of hearing me say this but marketing is simple, which is why it’s so difficult. We can’t help ourselves. We complicate it and muck it up. If you’ve gotten off track, now is the perfect time to do a course correction.


Remove the barriers

February 15, 2017

I recently spent some time at Walt Disney World and observed how brilliantly they remove barriers for their guests.

There’s a free Disney shuttle from the Orlando airport to any Disney hotel and back to the airport at the end of your trip. Once you’re on property, there are free shuttles to all the theme parks and other attractions (like their water parks, putt-putt golf area, Disney Springs – their dining and entertainment district, etc.) If you don’t feel like taking a shuttle, you have other options like monorails and boats that can get you around as well.

That free transportation probably saves the average family a couple hundred dollars in rental car fees for the average 4-5 day visit. In fact, most Disney hotel guests don’t bother with a car at all.

Given that Disney wants to fill those hotel rooms and keep their guests on property for as much of the vacation as possible – they just removed some significant barriers to make that happen.

You don’t need to know your way around. Just get on the right bus. It’s efficient and free. Now, if you want to visit Universal Studios or Sea World – you have to rent a car or take a cab. Most families, given the sheer volume of things you can do on Disney property, will just opt to stay put. More money in the Disney pocket.

But the transportation system is peanuts compared to their new magic bands. They are a master class in removing barriers. That wristband is your room key, your ability to charge food, merchandise, tickets, etc. and gives you the ability to skip the lines on popular rides. They have a corresponding website and app so you can customize your vacation months in advance or on the fly as you walk through one of their theme parks.

I was just there for a week and never had to pull out my wallet. Every member of your party has their own band and, if you want, their own charging privileges. Imagine the increase in food, beverage and merchandise spending since they implemented this program.

But don’t think barrier removal is just for the big boys. Every one of us has the same opportunity to identify what slows down or gets in the way of a potential buyer during their customer journey and blast it out of the way.

Here are some of the areas many businesses could make smoother/easier:

Contract/Project sign-offs: Are you still sending your clients paper contracts to review and sign? Then what? They either need to fax them back (assuming they still have a physical location and a fax machine) or they have to scan them so they can digitally get them back to you. Why not use one of the many e-signature services available today? With a few clicks, the authorization is signed and work can begin.

Access to you: People hate voice mail and with good reason. Why not forward your work number to your cell or better yet – get a number that intuitively knows which phone to ring, no matter where you are. At the very least, in your voice mail message — give them another way to reach you (email, mobile number) if it’s urgent.

Anticipate their concerns: The bigger your price tag, the more concerns your prospects are going to have. Answer their questions and worries before they ask. Create a FAQ section on your website. Include a PDF of it with your proposal. Go out of your way to answer all of their worries before they even express them.

Spend some time identifying the biggest barriers in your business and put together a plan to reduce or eliminate them all together. That could lead to an impressive 2017!


Will it work?

January 25, 2017

I was sitting with the leadership team of a new client during an onboarding meeting and we’d gotten to the “do you have any questions for me” stage of the meeting. One of the senior people looked at me and said, “Yeah, I have a question. Will it work?”

I’m a big fan of being straightforward, so I appreciated the opportunity to be equally frank with him. I said, “Well, that all depends on you and the rest of the team. I know our part of the equation will work.”

Marketing, no matter the product or service, is about connecting with the right audience in a way that they find interesting/helpful so that when they’re ready to buy what you sell – you’re in the consideration set.

Within that reality are several places that things can go awry and when something does get off track, the marketing results suffer or over time, the marketing might not work at all.

What are the must do elements to making your marketing work? Here’s what I shared with my new client that day to answer his question, “Will it work?”.

We have to be consistent: Marketing is like investing in the stock market. You never know exactly when the market is going to go up or down, so the wisest investment strategy is to invest consistently so you can be in a position to take advantage when it goes up. The same is true with marketing. You never know when a prospect might be ready to turn into a customer. So you have to be consistently in front of them with messages that are attention worthy so that when they are ready, you are top of mind.

Where companies mess this up: You start something but don’t really commit to it. The monthly newsletter goes out four times a year. The blog gets updated once in awhile. Your best customer calling program gets derailed every time you get busy.

We have to narrow our focus: The worst marketing is aimed at everyone. When you try to be relevant to everyone, you can’t help but be very general and broad. It turns out, that’s not particularly helpful or interesting to anyone. The best marketing is when you can get incredibly specific and most people are completely uninterested but the ones who are interested – are very, very interested.

Where companies mess this up: This is a tough one for organizations to wrap their head around. Every dollar is not a good dollar to chase. Knowing who your sweet spot customers are and only communicating to them requires incredible discipline and bravery.

We have to be customer-centric: If your marketing is all about you, you’ve lost the battle before you’ve even started.

Where companies mess this up: You blather on about you. You talk more than you listen. You push for the sale too soon rather understanding there are many tiny next steps that need to come before the ask.

We have to make the marketing to sales connection: The only way to be confident that your marketing is worth the investment is to track prospects through the sales funnel and identify what got them there in the first place.

Where companies mess this up: Most companies either can’t or don’t put the mechanics in place to accurately track and measure conversions.

It seems so simple and yet very few do it really well because it’s actually a very delicate dance and it’s so easy to get out of step.

Will it work?  It will if you: Know your audience and what they care about. Earn their trust by helping not selling and be absolutely consistent in your delivery. Track their progress through your sales funnel so you can quantify your results.

That’s it. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?


Year-end charitable giving

December 14, 2016

year-end charitable giving

Is that your hand in my pocket?  Every holiday season my mailbox is stuffed and my phone is ringing off the hook. Alas, the increase in activity is not just holiday greetings – it’s mostly people asking me for money. It’s time for the year-end charitable giving appeals.

Call me Scrooge if you will – but it’s annoying and ineffective. In most cases, I’m receiving communications from charities that I haven’t heard from since last holiday season. They’ve made no attempt to engage me throughout the year. They haven’t shared their successes with me along the way or even bothered to see if I was interested in the work they’re doing. In other words – they are shooting blind.

They have a huge list of people that includes anyone they can think of that should give, might give, attended an event 5 years ago or sold them something and BOOM – out goes the generic, “hey stranger give us money” mailing.

I sit on enough boards to understand why nonprofits feel compelled to send out a request for money between Thanksgiving and Christmas but the truth is – while they may enjoy a small surge in donations, they’re doing some damage too.

If you know that part of your organization’s business plan is to send out a year-end charitable giving appeal – let’s do some things throughout the year so your efforts drive more results and cause less of a disconnect.

Identify your target list in January: Don’t freak out – you can always add appropriate people to it – but let’s identify a list of people that you can spend an entire year preparing for your appeal letter.

I know this is counter-intuitive, but your job in selecting these people is to reduce the list, not add to it. Your goal is not to reach out to every breathing human being but to really narrow the list down to likely donors. Why? Because rather than the one gun and done method, we’re going to communicate to them throughout the year – increasing the likelihood that they will give.

Share throughout the year: You don’t want to be the nonprofit I only hear from when you want to put your hand in my pocket. So this year, you are going to work this donor list all year long. Yes, it’s going to cost you a little more but remember, we’ve reduced the list so hopefully there will be less waste and a better yield.

At least once a quarter you need to reach out to this list. Share success stories. Show them how you are spending your 2015 year-end appeal dollars (actually say it, don’t assume they infer it) and talk about your impact on the community. In short – do all of the things you try to cram into the year-end fundraising letter throughout the year. If you skip this step – you can count on mediocre results at year’s end.

Yes, I know it costs money. But you can’t expect them to invest in you if you don’t invest in the relationship. Think of how many charities are out there – and every single one sent out a letter asking for money between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most people are going to choose one or two at the most. They all do good things to make this community and the world a better place. Sadly – those are the table stakes. If you want to make the most of your year-end charitable giving appeal, you have to do even more.


Don’t forget to recognize your good fortune

November 23, 2016

good fortune

It’s easy to get caught up in the metrics, goals, sales projections, and all the other things we measure in business. But as Thanksgiving approaches, I want to suggest that the best parts of being in business can’t be measured in dollars, percentages or increases but by your good fortune.

I don’t know about you, but by this time of year, I’m getting a little tired. I’ve been going full throttle ever since the holidays wound down last year and I’ve been chasing some pretty aggressive goals. This coming week is the perfect time to slow down and genuinely be grateful for our good fortune. Why not take advantage of the slower pace of Thanksgiving week and actually say thank you to those who make your work meaningful and successful.

Your employees: Let’s be honest – your employees are awesome, aren’t they? They care about your customers, they care about your business and they care about you. They work hard and your bottom line benefits from their efforts.

If you have a small staff, take the time to handwrite them a thank you note. Point out the things they do that make such a difference and let them know you appreciate all they do.

If your team is too big for that, gather them together and tell them how much you appreciate them. If you have multiple locations – why not shoot a video? It doesn’t have to be fancy — you can do it on your computer or phone. But make it personal.

Your clients: What if you spent a couple of hours this coming week and called all of your customers just to say thank you. Don’t try to sell them anything or talk about 2017. Just say thank you. But be specific – tell them why they’re such a wonderful client and why you appreciate them so much.

Encourage your employees to do the same thing with the customers that they serve.

Your vendors: You know who I’m talking about – the ones who bust a hump when your client shortens their deadline or wants to double their order but not the time it takes to get it done.

Let them know that you value their skills, commitment to your customers and willingness to bend over backward to help you over deliver. If there’s a sales rep or front line person who is always going out of their way for you – why not pick up the phone or write a note to their boss? Express your gratitude for their employee and make sure they know just how lucky they are to have them.

Your past customers: Even if they haven’t done business with you in a while, why not drop them a note to thank them for their past business? Tell them how much you appreciate the faith they had in you and the opportunity they gave you. Again, this isn’t a sales gimmick and you’re not trying to win them back. Just acknowledge that you enjoyed working with them, are grateful for the chance and wish them well.

In keeping with this blog post’s theme, I want to thank all of you for reading my blog content. Your emails, calls, notes and kind words make my day. I love it when you disagree, agree or just ask a question. I’m very grateful for our on-going conversation about marketing and all things business.

The magic of this week of giving thanks is that the more gratitude you express, the better you feel. You’ll be reminded again and again of your good fortune and that’s the perfect way to wind down this year and gear up for even more blessings in the year to come.


Narrow your focus

November 16, 2016

narrow your focusAs you begin to look to at your marketing plan for the coming year, I’d like to suggest you adopt a theme of “narrow and deep” for your marketing and even your business model.   In other words, narrow your focus.

What do I mean by that? For some reason, business owners and leaders struggle with the idea of specializing. We get the concept in our own lives – if you had a heart problem would you go see a cardiac specialist or your general practice doctor? If you wanted to update your bathroom, would you choose a company with years of experience in updating bathrooms or a general plumber? If you were flying, would you prefer your pilot have logged most of his hours in your specific kind of plane or be a generalist?

When we are choosing professionals to work with – we tend to gravitate to specialists and we justify that choice by saying:

  • They have experience in exactly what I need.
  • They can better anticipate and solve problems along the way.
  • They’ve built up resources and partnerships to help them be successful.
  • They will be faster and more efficient because of their depth of experience.
  • They are more likely to get it exactly how I need it to be.

And we acknowledge that they may appear to be more expensive but because of all of the reasons we just listed, in the end, they will probably save us time and money and if not, it’s because something went wrong and then we will be glad we invested the extra money.

I get why it’s harder to narrow your focus and choose to specialize rather than be a generalist. There’s money on the table and someone wants to hire you. You have a payroll to meet, financial goals to hit and you’re hoping for a little bonus at the end of the year. So why would you turn down anyone who is ready to hire you?

It’s a challenge to say no when someone is offering to hire you or buy something from you. But let’s be honest – your company is not equally good at everything. When you make a sale and it’s tied to delivering something that is outside your sweet spot – it’s difficult to get it done on time and on budget.

It’s often the project that requires you to do more legwork for the same price because you aren’t as familiar with the specifics. Even if you’ve done it a few times, it doesn’t come as naturally, so you slow down to make sure you do it well.

I’m betting that if you took the time to identify the deliverables that you have the most expertise in and have done the most and compared the profitability to the one-offs you do – the difference will be striking.

Let’s add to all that – when you are a specialist, you can charge more for your expertise. Why? For the same reason, bathroom makeover specialists can charge more than the handyman. Look at your own buying choices. People will pay more for the reassurance that you’re very good at what you do and if something goes wrong, you will know how to quickly fix it.

The advantages to specializing are pretty dramatic:

  • It’s easier to market yourself and help people understand what you offer.
  • Because you’re very good at it – you deliver a superior customer experience that leads to more word of mouth and repeat business.
  • You can charge more per deliverable.
  • You differentiate yourself from all the companies who are generalists and also do what you do best.

As you think about what’s next for your marketing and your business – rather than adding to all the ways you communicate and all the things you talk about – why not narrow your focus and consider pruning down to what you do best?