What Businesses Can Learn From a Movie Cowboy

Curly's Law

Do you know what the secret of life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean sh*t. ~ Curly, City Slickers.

Sometimes, you just stretch yourselves too thin. You want more sales, and more business. So you keep adding services. You may start with SEO.

Then someone asks if you can design a web site, then there’s a request for Facebook page setup. You try to keep it organized and under control.  You ask friends and friends of friends for help.  You scour the web for people to outsource all the new services you’re offering.

Suddenly one day, you look at your web site and see that you’re promising to do SEO, blog post writing and setup, email marketing, website design, Facebook branding and page setup, Twitter setup and posting, lead nurturing, Facebook campaigns, list building, and website analytics.

Confusing the market

That’s a lot of services for a small or medium size business to offer.

The more services you list, and the more features you focus on, the more confused your audience will be. And the more you’ll be scrambling to meet their needs.

It happens even to seasoned businesspeople. You take on too much. You say yes to things because you want more. Or, because you don’t want to disappoint a valued client. Or because cash flow was weak last month.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to stretch yourself and learn something new. But it can get out of control. Pretty soon, you’re a jack of all trades, and master of none.

Market first, product second

Start with your existing clients. Is there something they’ve have been clamoring for?  Have you gotten way more requests for SEO than for Facebook pages?

If you have a blog, look at the blog posts that have gotten the most attention. Do they have anything in common?  Where there particular topics that got more comments, or more traffic?  Which ones prompted people to email you with questions?

Go through those emails (and emails from your clients and your network too).  See if there are questions that or requests for help that appear over and over?  What are your clients and your readers struggling with?

If your audience isn’t big enough, go check the broader world.  Look at your connections on LInkedIn.  Or check the Q&A there.  It can be a great source of ideas for services.

Monitor Twitter and Google+ too.  Ask your followers and circlers what some of their biggest challenges (in your field) are.

See what problems people have. What are they complaining about?  What frustrates them?  Look for signals that say they have a problem.  Look for patterns and repetition.

Just one thing

Now, you need to do some thinking. Is there just one thing you can offer to fix one of these problems?

If Facebook pages are the problem, offer a service to setup, manage, and promote Facebook pages. Or, offer training for larger companies to help their employees manage a page.  Many companies, particularly older and larger ones struggle with using social media and make mistakes. If you’re fluent in Facebook, you can train them how to avoid social media faux pas.

Marketing for medium size businesses

Executives at smaller and medium size businesses are too busy running their companies and selling their services to properly write, design, and manage their email campaigns.  Or, they send the emails, but fail to track the clicks, opens, and conversions.  How about an email management service to do that for them? If you’re great at digging into analytics and numbers, you could sell them on easy-to-digest email marketing reports that show ROI at a glance.

Quite a few companies have  lost a lot of traffic recently because they were hurt by Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates.  Some have even been de-indexed or gotten warnings from the Google team.

The companies suffering from the latest Google algorithm change would welcome a surefire Google Panda recovery plan to help your clients get re-indexed, and get their traffic back.

Own it

Once you pick  your one thing, own it.  Emphasize it in everything you do: your website, your LinkedIn profile, your Google+ profile, etc.  Become known as the Google recovery maven.  Or the easy email marketing guru. You’ll find it’s much easier to promote yourself (and for others to promote you too).

What about you?  Do you have just one thing? What is it?





How to Narrow Your Marketing and Improve Your Results

milk jugsA client told me that his wife often sends him to the store to buy groceries. Seems simple, right? But, there’s a hitch. She says “dairy,” when what she really wants is:

½ gallon 2% milk
1 pint whole milk
1 dozen eggs
1 lb. unsalted butter

If he comes home with just the milk, or only one kind of milk, and no eggs, he’s in trouble. Not knowing what groceries you really want can annoy your spouse, not knowing who your customers are can jeopardize your business.

When going shopping, you need a list of what you want to buy. When looking for customers, you need a list that describes your ideal customer.

To avoid problems at home (and at work), decide what you’re selling, what problem it solves, and who you want to sell it to.

Who are your ideal customers?

Can you describe them? Build a picture in your head. Are they companies? Consumers? What kind of people? Men? Women? Executives? Plumbers?

What problem do they have?

Poor replacement pipes? Accounting software that takes five hours to run payroll for 100 people?

How can you solve the problem?

A lightweight exhibit design that cuts shipping costs in half? A payroll system that runs the same report in 10 minutes?

Where are they?

Worldwide? Next door?

Can they afford your services?

Do they have money allocated to buy what you’re selling? Is your offer appealing to them? Does it save them time or money or both?

When you know who you’re looking for, and what they’re looking for, it will be much easier to find them, and find more of them.

(I gave this same advice to someone recently, telling him to focus on a niche. He took down his general marketing message, re-focused on a specific industry, added appropriate content and keywords, and his traffic went up!).

Photo: LFL16