Lessons From A Six Year Old

My 6 year old daughter Emily knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up. Two weeks ago she knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Last week she knew that she wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. This week she knows that she wants to be a professional singer.

Emily’s not indecisive. In fact, she’s a natural born marketer. Here’s why:

• Emily Has A Laser Focus. Regardless of which career is the career of the week, Emily is behind it 100%. She’s all teacher, then all swimmer, then all singer.

She doesn’t muddy the waters by trying to embrace too many things at once, and as a result, the listener both understands what she wants, and remembers it.

Many businesses — small ones in particular — take an opposite approach. Working from the belief that, “the more services we offer, the more business opportunities there will be,” these companies attempt to cast as wide a net as possible:

“We’re executive coaches. We do everything from presentation training to life skills workshops to one-on-one CEO mentoring.”

“We’re painters. We specialize in residential and commercial buildings and projects of all types. No job too big or too small.”

“We’re executive recruiters. Sales, Marketing, HR, IT, and Finance are just a few of the areas we focus on.”

The unfortunate result of this scattered approach however, is that potential clients and others associate these businesses with nothing in particular.

The single most effective thing I ever did to grow my business (other than naming it after a flightless aquatic bird) was to stop offering “web marketing services” in general, and to instead focus 100% of my efforts on the very narrow niche of electronic newsletters.

Not only does this allow me to become more expert on this topic than my competitors who simply dabble in it, it also gives me a clear hook to hang my hat on. Clients, prospects, colleagues, friends — even my mailman — think of me as, “the E-Newsletter guy.”

As a result, they are more likely to come to me when they need this particular service; more likely to trust from the beginning that I know what I’m talking about; and more likely to recommend my services to their colleagues (can you say, “viral marketing?”).

Rather than reducing your opportunities, narrowing your focus has the effect of attracting business to you.

• Emily Ignores The Past. She doesn’t waste a breath trying to explain how she went from teacher to swimmer to singer. She only talks about where she is today.

How many times on the other hand, have you met somebody at a business event who spends twice as much time justifying how the pieces fit together, as he does talking about what it is he does in the first place?

“Well, I decided to open the pet cemetery because I always liked animals, and I spent 10 years in the shovel division of Black & Decker. When my aunt died and left me those 15 acres of land, it all just fell into place.”

The truth is, nobody cares what you used to do, and nobody will take you to task if the path you’ve traveled doesn’t make “logical” sense. All they want to know is what you do now.

Bottom Line: As we’ve said here before, marketing is mostly about standing out from the crowd. Take a tip from my favorite 6 year old: Pick a clear, memorable, narrow focus for your business and get behind it with everything you’ve got!

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