I live in an area dotted with small towns where much of the community is self-employed. The reality of our economy is that most of us need to earn our living through varied and multiple income streams. In order to create those streams, many people attempt to capitalize on as many of their skills as they can.
The result is that people try to market themselves as multi-hyphenates, such as: Artist-Life Coach-Chiropractor, or Massage Therapist-Housekeeper-Yoga Instructor, or Musician-Muralist-Handyman. Some might think this is a good strategy because, by covering many bases, it would seem to increase opportunities for income.
Unfortunately, this is NOT a good strategy and all it does is create a muddled brand.
If your prospects and customers don’t have a crystal clear perception of what your ONE Specialty is, they will NOT think of you when they are seeking solutions to their problems.
Someone who needs a chiropractic adjustment is NOT going to call someone whose business card reads: Artist, Life Coach, Chiropractor. They are going to call someone whose card indicates excellence and experience in Chiropractic healing.
This same rule applies to Small Business Owners. Trying to cast a wide net and position your company as a solution to many problems is not as effective as taking a strong position on ONE Unique Specialty and touting that as your Core Marketing Message.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t offer ancillary products or services – of course you can. But, they will exist under the umbrella of your overall brand.
Let’s look at some examples. There is an independently-owned (franchised) hardware store that brands itself as ‘The Helpful Place’. They don’t just tout this in their marketing, they live it! Every time I walk in this place, the employees are falling all over themselves to help me out.
Now, focusing on that One Unique Specialty doesn’t limit the amount of products or services this company can offer, rather, it promises prospects and customers that, regardless of whatever they are looking for, they WILL get the help they need.
There’s another hardware store in town that promotes itself as ‘The Outdoor Headquarters.’ This store is located in a mountainous region of northern California, so that is a legitimate niche to focus on.
Again, this company can still provide all the necessary items redolent of a typical hardware store, but by calling attention to the fact that they specialize in Outdoor Gear, they are targeting a certain segment of customers who will think of them FIRST when camping, grilling or ski season approaches.
Standing out in your customer’s mind as the “Go-To Solution” to their specific problems is the entire objective of branding. And remember, a customer’s “problem” can be anything from being hungry, to wanting a car wash, to needing a new tent for a camping trip.
Now, let’s get back to the Artist-Life Coach-Chiropractor for a moment. An important question that may have come up is: How DO self-employed multi-hyphenates market their myriad talents?
The answer is this: Create separate brands.
If people are truly trying to successfully market all three of those services, they need to take the following steps for EACH of the different categories:
- Define and articulate their Unique Brand Promise
- Create complete and separate Brand Identities and Marketing Collateral
- Find the appropriate Target Market in each category
- Market each different service to its own appropriate audience
Whew, that sounds like a lot of work! That’s because IT IS! That is why I recommend really focusing on what you do BEST, and starting there. Then, as momentum either builds or stalls in your primary category, you can determine if it’s necessary to implement your additional brands.
There is certainly something admirable about being skilled in many areas, EXCEPT when it comes to positioning your brand in the minds of your customers.
When consumers are seeking real solutions to the needs and problems in their lives, their trust – and hard-earned money – does not belong to the Jack of All Trades. It belongs to the Master of One.