I recently met a friendly gentleman whose business card seemed to come out of a holster.
“Hi there, I’m John.” The company name on the business card – we’ll call it “Acme Promotions.”
The card showed that John was in Brand Development. I handed John my card and introduced myself.
“So you guys do brand development?” I asked John.
“We do everything.”
I had to think on that. “We do everything.” What does that mean, exactly?
For the next couple of hours as I ran a few errands and made my way back to the office, it was on my mind.
The first thing I did when I got back to my desk was visit the Acme Marketing website listed on John’s card.
Here’s a list of their services:
- Creative Advertising
- Public Relations
- Event Planning
- Team Management
- Promotional Products
- Video Production
- Web Design
- Search Engine Optimization
- Direct Mail Marketing
Quite an ambitious list, isn’t it?
Now consider the hammer.
At the fundamental level many small business owners are afraid of the idea of limiting their offerings. If someone calls a web design company asking about print design for direct mail marketing, who wants to tell them “that’s not our area of expertise?” Can’t you just wing it, get your web designer on the job and cash another check in the mean time? Cash flow is, after all, the main concern for a small business of any kind.
The justification from the agency as to why they should take the work even while knowing full well that it is beyond the scope of their core competencies is often the same:
We can’t afford to turn down any work right now.
These people are willing to pay – why would we send them away?
I am certainly not one to trivialize the plights of the small business owner in keeping cash flowing in. It pays salaries, covers overhead – it feeds families.
But it’s tough to build a brand by doing “everything.” Usually doing everything means you’re only doing a few things well.
Why not focus on those few things?
Market for what you’re best at, maybe the best at. That may mean saying “no” to projects – and, yes, sometimes even saying “no” to money. In the long run, though, you just might make a name for yourself.