Stretching yourself too thin is a surefire way to fail. Everyone understands this intellectually. So why do businesses fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone? Various reasons, but in a struggling economy, some entrepreneurs are tempted to grasp at every dollar, every opportunity, every customer. So come with me briefly and consider Apple Computer, a company that is indisputably one of the most successful companies in the world.
Apple produced one of the earliest personal computers, but for a period, the Microsoft operating system juggernaut seemed to be taking over the computing world. Apple hunkered down and focused on a specialty market, one it believed had a lot of future potential: the media-intensive market. Apple became the personal computer of choice for designers and musicians. And they put a lot of time and energy into quality and performance, and paying attention to their niche market.
As Reuben Swartz at Dollars and Sense: The Pricing Blog explains:
You can always expand your market by going after “adjacent” segments.
But sometimes that expansion causes you to lose focus on the value
differentiators in your core market. Dell suffered a similar fate when
it finally moved into low priced PCs. For years, Dell basically sold
great (high-end) PCs at a reasonable price. When it started selling
reasonable PCs at great prices, it had to cut costs and lost a lot of
the product and service quality that had made Dell so popular in the
Swartz quotes Steve Jobs (via CNet): “We’ve seen great success by focusing on certain segments of the market
and not trying to be everything to everybody, and you can expect us to
stick with that winning strategy.”
Rather than going after the entire market, take some time to figure who your customers are not. Identify which market you can serve better than your competition, and provide the customers you choose to serve with what they value most.