I’ve developed a scary but cool talent. Unbeknownst to me, over the past 6 years of owning my marketing consulting firm, this ability developed as some kind of super power that I have no control over. As I listened to hundreds of CEOs describe their businesses and their growth woes at countless Coach’s Corners, seminars and sales calls, I came to actually be able to predict within seconds why a business wasn’t growing as fast as it wanted to. And yes, you guessed it, it was usually because of one thing: Their positioning was too Generic.
What it Looks Like
Let me explain what this type of positioning looks like. It’s when a company has no stated (visible) industry focus and it’s when they are marketing multiple services at one time, with no apparent expert positioning in any one area. An example from a past client was a Leadership Consulting firm who we niched into Decision Making Experts in the Manufacturing Sector. Another was a Financial Consultant who became a Profitability Expert for the Construction industry. Another was the Food Safety Consultant who became the Rapid Certification expert for Tier1 Grocery Manufacturers. The list goes on. I have seen first hand what having no focus and no specialty can do to a company.
The Generic Death
In a world where experts can often charge multiples of their generic competitors, claiming to know everything about everything is a certain death for a business. For every CEO who claims to be ok being positioned as a Generic service to every industry under the sun, I find out upon further conversation that there actually is an industry or a service that emerges as being a favourite profit centre for them. The crux of the problem is that not only have they not identified this niche and positioning strategically, but in some cases they are even resistant to narrowing their focus.
Generic But Growing Anyway
The only cases where I’ve seen phenomenal growth in Generically positioned companies is where the company has unknowingly done something to differentiate themselves. For example, a transportation company CEO I recently spoke to told me that their 450% growth over the last 2 years was due to the fact that they had their own driver’s school to compensate for the horrendous industry turnover. This was clearly a differentiator and it was working for them but what more could they create if they actually targeted key industries and positioned themselves as a solution to those specific industry needs? Another case of a Generic but growing company is where it’s become a specialist in an industry niche because of close ties to it. Like a former government executive client who built her entire business selling to government agencies with her Language School. Differentiators are ok as long as nobody else is going to copy you in the market. The true test of time is met only with a strategic and consistent positioning and plan.
Can’t Leverage Your Marketing
Even if you’re a CEO who is speaking at every conference and quoted in every newspaper you still may not be growing to your full potential. Remember that no amount of marketing is going to grow a Generic company. People don’t buy what they don’t understand. Amplifying your generic message only gets it out to more people who don’t understand what makes you different and how you can help their specific pain.
Get focused and position on a targeted niche and then spend the dollars to get more visible.