Quit multi-tasking your business and focus.

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

One of the main keys to success in any endeavor is focus. It doesn’t matter if it’s in sports, business, or your personal life. A company can be good at a lot of things, but it can’t be great at everything. It takes focus to be great at what you do and understanding what it is you do is the key ingredient to success. The sharper the focus you bring on that single idea, the more dominate you can become in your sector. This equates to success.

Too many companies try to be the best at everything or they try being good at many things. Either way, they settle for second best or mediocre. Unfortunately, that’s good enough for many companies. If you have bigger aspirations, read on.

First of all, you need to become first in category. This doesn’t mean you’re the first one to do something. There are many examples where the first innovator lost its position to the second in line because they rested on just being first. Netscape lost to Yahoo who lost to Google. Ames lost out to WalMart in the rural discount store concept even though they created it 9 years earlier than Sam Walton. What first means is “first in mind”. This is the real battlefield. First in the hearts and minds of your customers is where being first counts the most. Not when you entered a niche or category.

Second, you need to narrow your focus on what you want to be great at. Dell narrowed its focus to being the dominate player in direct sales of personal computers to consumers. They didn’t enter the personal computer until 9 years after IBM, Apple, among others. 3M became great by focusing on solving problems innovatively. They believed that a company can manufacture innovation and being”lucky” by having a process that fosters these qualities. They instituted the 20% rule. This allowed their engineers and scientists to experiment on anything they wish with 20% of their work time. (And no, Google didn’t come up with this idea first. 3M had this as a policy in the 1020’s.) WalMart focused on bringing discount stores to rural markets. Ames lost their way when they expanded to go after big cities, thus, started carrying expensive, luxury goods.

Third, do the opposite. If you can’t be the “first in mind” leader, don’t follow them. Do the opposite. Home Depot is a male dominate brand. Lowes has been making up ground and became the #2 home improvement warehouse by being clean and appealing to women. WalMart owns cheap, so Target became affordable “chic” and cool.

Fourth, dominate a category. The misconception about marketing is that it is there to increase sales or increase profits. While this is important, it is not the main goal. The main objective of marketing is to dominate a category and, as a result, dominate “first in mind”. The other objective is to provide a visual hammer. Think Nike swoosh, Starbucks black and green circle (no one really cares if they can identify the mermaid or not), the cowboy of Marlboro, and the apple with a bit out of it.

Expansion is not the key to success. It’s focus. If you look at the category leaders, they didn’t dominate by expanding what they did. They focused more intently and sharpened their marketing efforts. Boston Chicken dominated because everyone knew what it was, rotisserie chicken. They changed their name to Boston Market (expansion) and no one knew exactly what they were great at or even stood for any more. Now, they are out of business. If you want to expand, create another brand and let that dominate the new category. Toyota did it with Lexus and Black & Decker created DeWalt. So quit trying to multi-task your company to success. All you’ll do is distract yourself and become just average while you watch a competitor with a singular concept zoom right by you.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

2 Responses to “Quit multi-tasking your business and focus.”

  1. I subscribbed to your rss feed but for some reason I haven’t been getting the updates. Maybe its something on my end. Any way I guess I have to just look through the archive. Thanks

    • Rodrigo, I’m sorry the rss feed doesn’t seem to be working for you. Thank you for letting me know. I’ll check it out and see what the problem is. I appreciate your readership and hope they continue to inform, educate, and provoke additional thoughts and questions. Best Wishes, Tony

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