The Trick to Standing Out in a Busy Marketplace

Face it: You’re not going to conquer the world. But you just might nail a niche, if you market deep instead of wide.

Maybe you’ve heard this business saying: “If you market to everyone, you are marketing to no one.”

Just like in your personal relationships, you can’t be everything to everyone all the time in your marketing, either. And you shouldn’t try to be.

This can be a very tough concept for some business owners to accept.

I hear it all the time from really creative, innovative business owners: “Our products and services can help all sorts of people! Why would I only want to market to one group?”

Are you like that, too? Do you ever fear that you might miss out on a sale? Do you worry that if you only focus on a small part of the market, you will lose out on new opportunities?

Look, I understand how difficult it is to make trade-offs in your marketing efforts. It’s scary to say no to any possible avenue of success. Especially if you’ve worked hard to bring an offer to life and you’re deeply emotionally connected to it.

The ego struggles to admit limitations on its greatness! Your products and services are worth proclaiming to the universe, so shouldn’t your message be one of universal appeal?

The truth is, unless you’re a pop hitmaker, no, it’s not worth your time to shoot for the widest possible audience. (And today, even pop music splits its targets into numerous sub-genre niches. They’re mostly built around universal themes but presented in specific contexts.)

Throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks isn’t just a terrible idea for testing whether your pasta is done. It’s also a foolish marketing strategy.

Let’s consider what happens if you do try to be everything to everyone.

Perhaps you’re taking that marketing-by-committee approach, with each member of the committee adding new attributes. The message gets completely watered down.

When your marketing message is too broad or tries to do too much, then your best prospects have to make it through a lot of extraneous detail to get to what might matter to them. Can you expect a particular business leader you’re trying to reach to put down the smartphone or fidget spinner long enough to pay attention to you until they find that one tasty morsel?

The person, the one who calls the shots and signs the checks for a business that fits your ideal customer profile, is a specific person with a specific problem. Your marketing is going to be more powerful if you market specifically to him.

OK, quick caveat.

Note that I’m talking about marketing here, and not necessarily sales.

It’s one thing to get laser-focused on getting high-value prospects to give you a call. It’s another to completely ignore a very likely sale to someone who actually does dial your number. If the opportunity arises, you have the capacity to take on the business, and it won’t mean taking a hit to your bottom line, well, most of the time, you should probably go for it.

All that said, it’s never a good idea to betray the fundamental values of your business simply for the sake of a sale. It will come back to bite you.

There’s a slippery slope from that one desperate sale down to a full-on embrace of the shameless “ABC” rule from Glengarry Glen Ross (Always Be Closing). You’ll hate yourself for it. And if you treat everyone you meet as a potential sales “mark,” how would you ever know when one comes along who represents a real growth opportunity?

There’s great power in saying no. Or at least in not just saying yes all the time.

It may seem counterintuitive, but there’s a lot more growth potential in narrowing your focus.

One big reason is that you have more freedom to hone the specialized expertise and skills that your more targeted prospects value. You can focus on your strengths and your passions.

Let’s take a very simple example. Say your company offers home restoration services.

In any given market, there are dozens of these companies. And each of these companies is capable of a very wide range of restoration services.

So how do you stand out?

Every company in your market will make similar claims:

  • 24/7 service
  • A+ Rated BBB
  • Insurance Approved
  • “Top Rated”
  • Best Service

You might be tempted to top that off with a dull, all-encompassing list of the many projects you’re willing to take on. Wouldn’t want to leave something out that somebody might want, right? The problem is that your message will quickly drown in a sea of marketing monotony.

Again, the trick to standing out in a busy marketplace is to clearly define your specialty as it relates to a specific problem for a specific customer. That customer doesn’t want to work with an unfocused company — especially one that isn’t focused on their particular situation. 

Think of it like you’re in a one-on-one conversation, perhaps over a pint. Tailor the conversation.

In this case, it might make sense to market yourself as a Residential Fire Damage Restoration Specialist. Focus your marketing on your ability to restore any home to pre-fire condition, on time and on budget guaranteed.

Your marketing would speak to the unique challenges the owner of a fire-damaged home has and how you are uniquely qualified to help them. You’d probably want to show examples of your work and case studies of homes that you have restored.

When the language in your marketing is geared towards this specific client, you can make a deep connection, earning trust and confidence in the process. While you can try to conquer the whole world, or even just market to multiple niches at once, you will always have the greatest impact when you narrow in on one niche and go deep instead of wide.


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