In the quest for market domination, many businesses have decided to follow each other, sheep-like, into the realm of limitless offerings and unfettered growth.
What do I mean by that?
Think about airports offering car rentals, massages, food, alcohol and entertainment. Think about big box stores offering groceries, beauty products, jewelry, plumbing and car parts. And then consider dentists who are offering orthodontic treatments, Botox injections and facial massage.
Where will it end?
That's not a rhetorical question. I know the answer to it.
It ends when concentration on the core of the business (e.g. air travel, groceries and cavity prevention) ceases in favour of extension into other areas. Suddenly, the airport isn't improving its flight experience. The big box store isn't paying attention to what food items are moving. And the dentist's office isn't working to innovate new dental cleaning and cavity treatment methods.
They stagnate in their core business.
Then they scramble to get back to basics by shedding the extras or opening new, more focussed stores. And in the shuffle, they lose customers.
And therein lies the oxymoron: The bigger and more unfocussed a brand gets, the smaller its chances of market domination…and survival.
Just a few decades ago, Walmart broke all kinds of boundaries when they started selling underwear and groceries in the same store…and then keeping those stores' doors open 24 hours, including holidays.
It was a novel idea at first. Customers liked the convenience of all-at-once shopping at any hour of the day. What has happened now is a pendulum swing in the opposite direction: those same customers are becoming annoyed with the crowds and non-stop traffic created by the ceaseless retail giant, which has also come under fire (and suffered boycotts) for its decision to stay open on holidays.
So what's the moral of this oxymoronic story?
If you want staying power and bottomless loyalty for your brand, stay focussed. Think niche. Run far, far away from the bandwagon.
Promote Brand Growth, by Maintaining Focus
I'm not going to lie: The temptation to regularly add products and/or services to your brand's list of offerings is going to be strong.
You'll see it as a way to reach more people and to appeal to a wider audience. However, I urge you to avoid that temptation and all its empty promises.
Instead, focus on these points:
- Put your Ideal Customer and His or Her Needs First. You have one thing you're best at. And you have ideal customers who value that one thing above all else, and who are more-than-willing to give you their full loyalty. Now imagine how they'll feel if you expand into other areas, taking attention away from your craft and from them. That loyalty will dwindle…as will your brand equity.
- Concentrate on the One Thing you do Best. Remember that thing you've loved to do since you were young? It was the thing that fueled your dream of owning your own business, and it was the thing you became known for, because you were better at it than anyone else? That's what you need to get back to. Hone your craft. Strive to be the best. Focus on that one thing and, at least for now, forget the rest.
- Put Quality Before Quantity. In the struggle to create more profit, expansion into other areas is going to seem like the right thing to do. Avoid this compulsion and instead, focus on making your core offering the best it can be. This will not only create a higher-quality brand, it will set you up for solid, future success (as opposed to a short-lived profit burst that dies when your attention to each sector of the brand is diluted).
- Stand Firm Against Expansion Suggestions. You're going to run into potential customers who don't have a need for your core offering; however, they're going to try to talk you into expanding to include the service they need. Warning: These people will not be satisfied with the final result, you'll have to put more time in than you're getting paid for, and they will not be happy to pay you at the end. Why? Because this is not your specialisation. It's not the thing you use to thoroughly impress…and that fact will manifest itself in the ultimate weakening of your brand.
- Understand that your Greatest Profits will Come from Repeat Sales and Loyal Customers. The cost to acquire new customers far outweighs the cost of maintaining existing customers. So, wouldn't it make more sense to invest every brand effort into keeping your customers happy—the customers who love your core product?
- Make Yourself Indispensable to a Few People. This is a far better plan than being mediocre to many. Those few loyal customers will work to bring more like them to your brand, and their loyalty will compound over time, as you prove to them that you're willing to maintain focus and build your standard of quality…just for them.
- Understand that there are Exceptions. I am not suggesting that expansion into new areas is never an option. It is, in fact, a good choice in some cases…only after you see a persistent need within your target audience, and you can foresee that adding a product or service will bolster the effectiveness of your initial offering.
Deciding how and when to grow your brand is never easy. There are always a number of directions in which you can turn and a variety of ways to make that brand growth happen. Deciding to 'try something' or simply doing it because the competition is doing it are unfounded reasons that are sure to end badly.
In order to learn more about brand growth and all its quirks, I would suggest that you look into the possibility of joining the Brand Builders Club, where freedom-focussed entrepreneurs are gathering to learn how to build their purpose-driven brands. Contact me at [email protected] and we'll talk about the club, about your brand…and if they're right for each other.