As someone employed at a relatively small firm, and a services firm at that, this is a question I ask myself often. Asking a question like this to someone else regardless of the size company they work for can easily take the conversation down several paths, especially depending on whom you’re asking.
The answers will vary from, “well, we serve the clients that we’ve identified are a fit with our expertise and our goals to grow in X vertical this year”, or “we are a strong B2B firm so we stay away from B2C, unless we need the revenue”, or simply (and candidly) “we don’t care- whomever is paying us”. None of these answers is inherently wrong, but I’d argue the first approach is one worth exploring a little more.
Focus – Pocus
There’s an old adage that states, “You can’t be all things to all people”. Granted, there are some companies that have such a deep and wide offering that they’d give this quote a run for its money, but by and large, I believe we are in the age of “specialize or die”.
There is a lot of noise in the market these days, regardless of what you sell, make or do. Focusing in on an area of expertise and then putting the systems in place to elevate that message to your defined customer set is a great way to try and raise up your firm above all that chatter out there on the world wide web.
All I want are Sharks with frickin’ Laser Beams
Dr. Evil (of Austin Powers fame) knew exactly what he wanted, but due to changes in the market and a team that was unable to deliver on his special request, he had to compromise with mutated Sea Bass. He knew how he wanted to finish off Austin Powers, but his team lacked the focus to get him there. The same could be said for many business owners today – they know what they want, but not how to get there. It’s our job as service providers to deliver.
So what do you do well? Are you selling too many products? Is your team tied down with work that is uninspiring? Are you simply chasing revenue to make a number, without regard to how it might impact your abilities to grow elsewhere?
And whom do you serve? If you do a great job with healthcare marketing services, are you doing you and your team a disservice responding to an Automotive RFP? Or if you make awesome, hardcore backpacking gear and clothing, perhaps branching out into more casual, everyday retail accessories is a mistake at this time. Who knows?
Being a company that is laser-focused on what you do well and taking the time to figure out exactly whom you serve best is no small task, rest assured. However, it can help position you as specialists and make it easier for your customers to find you. And most importantly, when you go out and find them, having this focus will help drown out all that other noise and allow them to hear you, and only you.