In 1996 Motorola introduced a cellular phone you could wear, email surpassed snail mail for the first time, and a computer named “Deep Blue” defeated the world chess champion. In the midst of this technological change, Al Ries published a marketing book entitled Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends On It.
Reis was already considered a marketing thought-leader, having coined the word “positioning” along with Jack Trout. Positioning was used to describe the perception of your brand relative to that of your competitors.
Ries reminds us that it’s a company’s urge to grow that causes them to become unfocused. In their “pursuit of growth, they often make serious strategic errors.” For a company to be successful, they probably started out focused, then overtime they try to serve more markets, at more price levels, with an increasing list of products and services.
A simple rule of thumb is that it is always better to do one thing exceptionally well, than two things subpar or even average. Ries cites that a major reason for many (if not most) business failures is trying to do too many things at once.
Focus on too many customers leads to trying to serve all masters from a limited pool of resources. When one client wants black and the other wants white, the results tend to be gray. Gray serves neither market well, and someone more efficient at just offering black or just offering white is able to come in and super serve your client.
4 ways focus can increase your position of quality in the mind of the customer:
- The Specialist Effect
- The Leadership Effect
- The Price Effect
- The Name Effect
Focus also makes it easier to identify and track your Key Performance Indicators. Metrics take time to collect and analyze, and the more focused you are, the more efficient it will be to track your KPI’s.
Peter Drucker called it the power of concentration. He said, “(economic) results require managers to concentrate their efforts on the smallest number of activities that will produce the greatest amount of revenue.”
Focus means making sacrifices. It means you can’t serve everyone who offers you money. It means you have to say no sometimes. It means you have to continually define who you are “not.”
What should you be focusing on? What is the smallest number of activities that your company, your department, or you as a personal brand can focus on for the greatest return?