Your Business Has ADHD
HOW PERSISTENCE CREATES GROWTH
When I say Cadillac, what do you think of? A Bicycle or a Car?
When I say IBM, what do you think of? A computer or an office copier?
When I say Lamborghini, what do you think of? A sports car or a 4WD?
When I say Life Savers, what do you think of? Candy or gum?
All of these companies, and thousands more, have fallen for a cardinal sin of branding and marketing. The fallacy of line extension. All of them have spent millions of dollars on products that did not align with their brand positioning and have not only failed with new products but as a consequence have also lost large amounts of market share.
It is not just large companies either, small businesses are making the same mistakes on a daily basis, damaging their profitability and growth as a result of it. When we brand and position ourselves correctly we become known for and create a single association in the mind of the consumer.
Let me explain…
Excitement, passion and aspirations of a bright future motivate us to take the leap in becoming business owners. The idea of turning an idea into a successful business that helps us achieve our vision is an attractive picture.
This idea that starts our journey is often formed but not fully developed. Without a strong strategy for positioning, branding and marketing we often rely on our ‘gut feeling’ and look at competitors for inspiration on what to do next.
This is in-fact the complete opposite of what you should do, but I spoke about that previously with Success starts with understanding your competition article.
This type of thinking is contagious, we fear what others are doing will make them more successful than us. We feel like we are missing out on clients, customers and leads. We look for a new shiny object of an idea to boost our business. We dart here, there and everywhere, attaching ourselves to the latest thing to grab our attention.
In the short term this can occasionally give us a short term boost. Sometimes it can provide a quick increase in revenue that gives us confidence that we made the right decision. It also feels good, we love adding more, it makes us feel like we are expanding the business. This ‘gut feeling’ decision is the business equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses. It is driven out of fear and not strategic thinking.
Inevitably this approach makes us just another business that has failed to differentiate itself and is viewed, in the eyes of a customer, as just another product or service. When this happens we are positioned as a commodity and a lower price is usually the only way we can secure sales.
The long term effects are much worse. This hurts our business with resources operationally, it destroys any positioning and makes marketing more difficult. We lose our ability to craft a brand, as there is now a gap between what we say we do and what we actually do.
As Al Ries says “Less is more. If you want to be successful today, you have to narrow the focus in order to build a position in the prospect’s mind.” I will expand on that and say that narrowing focus will also allow you to remove competitors in your category and allow you to find gaps in the market where customers are not having their needs met.
This all comes down to the fact that these businesses have not developed a brand and positioning strategy as the foundational layer that guides our decision making progress. They instead allow themselves to be distracted by any new and attractive idea that is presented to them. As Lou Gerstner said “If you don’t know where you’re going any direction will get you there.”
The solution is to develop a strong brand and positioning strategy that provides you with a clear understanding of the market, competitors and a roadmap to differentiate yourself moving forward. This differentiation makes it clearer for customers to understand how you can serve their specific needs more effectively, this differentiation allows us to find our niche.
To find this focus, and our niche, we must ensure our product and services, what we offer, align with the narrow market we want to target. When these are in alignment it becomes easy for our ideal customers to recognise our business as the best option for serving their needs. We are no longer viewed as a commodity with thousands of other businesses but as an expert with very few competitors who are able to charge a premium price.
However, if we become distracted from this and decide to start to offer products or services that do not align we risk destroying this focus, and association the consumers have of our brand. Now when the consumer wants a business that knows what they are doing, that only provides the best, most targeted solution they will find someone else.
A business without focus on positioning is not brave enough to niche down and wants to try to serve everyone. Their complete lack of clarity around who they serve, and how, means they don’t know what direction to go in. Their products or services constantly change, and they are never persistent enough to get results they are after.
Compare this to the business that took a courageous step to serving a very niche market, knew exactly who they served and used that to develop highly specialised, and profitable, products and services. This business set themselves apart and associated themselves clearly with a segment of the market who got to know, like and trust their brand.
This is the story of businesses that are focused specialists and distracted generalists. The specialists are set on their path and have strong offerings, whereas generalists can be swayed on a regular basis and tend to be weak with their offerings. Where the business world is highly competitive it is the narrowly focused specialists that get consistent growth. The generalists become stuck in a constant cycle of growing, plateauing and pivoting.