Be Specific to Lead Your Team to Grow Business
I love it when everyday life provides a great business lesson. Recently my wife and I learned that our son has Celiac disease. Of all the things you could have, our hope is that we never face anything worse – as this is not that horrible. It just means that gluten triggers an autoimmune response. So, he absolutely needs a gluten-free diet. Whereas before we would select a restaurant based on what we felt like eating that day, now it seems every dining decision starts with “Do they deliver gluten free menu options?”
What Problem Do You Solve?
I often say that in order to grow your business intentionally, you must be in touch with the problems you solve for your ideal customers. Almost every year for the past 15 years, we have taken a family vacation to San Diego. Years ago we first discovered Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill located near our resort. We first went there, because Sammy’s catered to families with young children and their menu appealed to children and adults. Sammy’s became a favorite spot for our family, but the gluten-free need had us wondering if it would be possible on this trip.
However, when we visited their website, we noticed that their menu had a GF icon next to all of the gluten-free items. Sammy’s menu made it very easy for us to know they satisfied our gluten-free needs. They earned our business for many meals during our vacation.
Don’t Just Sell “Food”
By highlighting the gluten-free options, Sammy’s caught our attention. Statistically, 60% of restaurants fail within the first 3 years of business. When we first came to the area on vacation, Sammy’s had 1 location. Fast forward to today, and Sammy’s just opened their 18th location including 4 in Las Vegas. Even if other restaurants happen to have items that do not contain gluten, the fact that those other restaurants don’t clearly address our gluten-free issue means that we didn’t even consider them as a dining option.
How Does This Apply To You
The same principles hold true for your business. If you are a “full service accounting firm” or “full service law firm” or “management consulting company” or “IT consulting firm” you are the equivalent of an apparel store that sells “clothes” or a restaurant that sells “food”. Your differentiator might not involve creating something new. Instead focus on what problems you solve. Don’t assume clients will know what you do really well. Here is another example to help explain what I mean. While on vacation, we passed a popcorn vendor that displayed a “gluten free” sign.
My son said “Dad! It’s gluten free. Let’s get some.” Of course, unless you do something odd, all popcorn is gluten free. The popcorn vendor is being specific and making their position known as a resource for those who are now in search of gluten free options. We passed other popcorn vendors, and none of us cared. But the gluten free sign caught my son’s attention.
Pick 3 Specialties
Sammy’s does not just offer gluten-free items. In fact, if you look closely at their menu, you’ll also notice that they have a “V” next to their vegan items. The vegan customers would similarly notice the vegan options. I’m sure there are other restaurants nearby that also could prepare vegan or gluten-free items by request.
Sammy’s makes it clear: If you have a specific dietary need, they will accommodate it with flair. Keep in mind that of our four family members, only one needs to eat gluten-free. But, Sammy’s gets business from the whole family because they meet his needs.
The lesson is that you need to evaluate what types of challenges you solve for your ideal customer, and then carve out 3 niches. This does not mean that you are not allowed to offer your services to others. However, by putting a stake in the ground around your specialty, you will stand out from the competition.
By being specific, the organizations that fit the criteria already know that your “menu” automatically aligns with their business (thus, leading your team to grow business). Sammy’s gets plenty of customers who just want good pizza and salads. But, they get all of the customers seeking gluten free or vegan options.
You cannot specialize in “everything”. You also do not need to limit your scope to one area. However, you will find that if you identify three areas of specific challenges you solve, that you can attract a large segment of the market with your “unique” offering. Your firm might specialize in helping government contractors, or family-owned businesses, or companies owned by 2 or 3 partners. Get the idea?
It’s Your Turn
What area of specialty do you serve for your customers? Share it in the comments, and I’ll offer feedback for every entry (and I’ll bet others might chime in, too). Think of the popcorn vendor who didn’t have to change a thing. What’s your Gluten-Free?