From Chapter 4 of From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin.
Imagine you’re clicking through radio stations. You have jazz or classical, classic rock or easy listening, and then you hit one called KALL—“we play jazz, hip hop, rock, classics, oldies, dance, holiday music, and anything else you want—you tell us what to play!”
It’d be a confusing mishmash. Don’t be a mishmash!
Get smaller. Get to that one thing people want from you, at which you’re the best. Remove the clutter to make it easier for the right customers to see why they need you. We know, this is easier said than done.
If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Going Narrower Simplifies Everything
Do you have too many good opportunities in front of you, in your radio station? You have to narrow it down to make it easy for people to tune into your frequency. And when you do, it vastly simplifies many of your challenges, like whom you’re going to go after and what you’ll say to them to see if they’re interested.
As the world gets busier and people’s mental inboxes get more crowded, what you need to do to stand out from the crowd and connect with your customers will also change.
The simplest way to do this is to go narrower, that is, to further specialize and simplify. Remember, you can try this as a whole company, for a product, for a project, or for a marketing campaign, or even as an individual working to advance your career.
Let’s say you’re a part-time CFO. Is it easier to write an elevator pitch as “a part-time CFO” or as “a part-time CFO who lives in Los Angeles and works with media companies with $1–$10 million in revenue”?
Or you can serve healthcare, financial services, and technology companies, both small and large. Where’s the most money coming from?
Writing emails or blog posts that speak to all those businesses would be a lot harder than zeroing in only on large financial services companies. Maybe you refocus the whole business that way. Maybe you refocus individual case studies, blog posts, web pages, or outbound campaigns that way. But narrow in. How?
It can be by type of target customers. Or where you work. What you offer. What you’re fixing. The results you create. Anything that makes it simpler for a prospect to tune in and see why they need you. A few examples are:
- Instead of “North America,” which states or metropolitan areas are you strongest in? “San Francisco,” “Los Angeles,” “Chicago and New York.”
- Instead of “pipeline management,” what standout function do you have? “Proposal conversion,” “demo mastery,” “15-minute executive pipeline reviews”.
- Instead of “author coach,” how about “business author coach” or “e-book author marketing coach.”
- Instead of “employee learning,” how about “salesperson onboarding.”
- Instead of “crowdsourcing,” how about “support ticket translation.”
Hey, broad categories can work, too. We’re just saying that if they aren’t working, try thinking narrower, then test it to see if it clicks with customers, because a sexy, fancy, or grandiose message that doesn’t click with people is useless.
A sexy, fancy, or grandiose message that doesn’t click with people is useless.
Specificity—in target, desires, or message—doesn’t limit you; it makes it easier for customers to “get it.”
Why It’s Harder for Services and Superstars
American Data Company was a Salesforce.com implementation and development partner that wanted to grow. But as a services company, they’d grown up doing anything for anyone. In starting an outbound prospecting program, initially nothing worked in looking for companies that needed help in improving their marketing, sales, or services results.
It turned out they’d created a mobile application for Westfield Shopping Centers used by their leasing agents. When they focused on running outbound campaigns just to shopping mall management companies, they started getting appointments right away.
Going narrower helped them figure out how to make it easier for prospects to tune into why they mattered.
Editor’s note: Whether it’s fixing leaks in your sales and marketing funnel or just about any other sales topic under the sun, you’ll want to be in the room–virtually, of course–for the upcoming Sales Kickoff Summit 2016, a virtual event with over 30 featured speakers covering Sales, Marketing, and Social.