July 3, 2016

Broad or narrow?


Starting out, there’s a debate between two principals. One says, “We need to offer a broad range of services that puts our arms around the widest possible group of customers.”

The tempting thought: that if you tell potential customers everything you can do for them, they’ll pick just the right thing from your long menu of options. That generalists are always in demand.

The other says,  “We need to go narrow to tempt a smaller but more interested group of customers.”

The contrary thought: Customers may need specialists less often, but when they’re looking for a lock-smith, they don’t want a metal-worker. That specialisms open doors.

Should we go broad or narrow? Or, what’s more attractive: an all rounder or a specialist?

Customers prefer specialists. They use generalists, but when they value price or convenience. Start-ups who don’t want to be treated like a commodity must focus on a narrow offer. “Great coffee,” not “hot-beverages” or “food and drink.”

More important, the start-up builds mastery, takes control and can charge a premium. Even more important, a focused offer is easy to talk about – and customers will tell their friends.

“I need to find a consultant.”

“What kind?”

Option One: “Someone who understands social media.”

“Good luck with choosing.”

Option Two: “Customer service through social media.”

“Oh, you should call …”

Skippy Strategy: Make the offer specific.

First published 28th February 2015.