February 28, 2015

What’s your coffee?


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 useful.

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?

What’s your coffee?

It’s like coffee. If a customer wants great coffee, they won’t stop at the corner shop where it’s a commodity served for convenience, hotness and a coffee-like flavour. They’ll look for high quality in a great atmosphere, where they’re served with passion and joy by an artisan. They’ll seek it out, walk further and pay more.

Customers prefer specialists. They use generalists when they value price or convenience, or when the firm is large enough to have specialists in many fields. 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.”

Customers benefit from expertise. 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 …”

Easy to share, easy to buy

A focused proposition is stronger, clearer, more understandable, buyable and recommendable than a menu. The higher the value you offer, the more specific the offer needs to be – and the more shareable the story becomes.

Skippy Strategy: What’s your great coffee? What specific value can you offer that is memorable, shareable and will get customers to your door?