Insights: Alienate to accelerate
Differentiation can mean standing against the crowd. And it can yield big results for small businesses, says Steve Howard. Finally has been shortlisted at the 2020 Transform Awards Europe
Through our lives we are all conditioned to fit in. At school, we have to wear a uniform, abide by the rules, be quiet and follow a curriculum. When you grow up, not a lot changes. You are conditioned to get a serious job, climb the ladder, dress a certain way and, if you don’t get drunk on a night out, you are viewed with suspicion that increases with every round of drinks.
The same goes for business, it is a scary thing standing out when the safer thing to do is fit in. One of the most difficult challenges is defining your precise target market and why your business exists.
The perceived danger is that if you narrow your audience, you run the risk of reducing your ability to grow and get business fomo. The reality is, however, for many businesses the opposite is true, because if you try and appeal to everyone, you will in fact appeal to no one.
Sometimes the quickest way to grow is to seriously shrink the size of your audience. If you can really drill down and drill down again into the company purpose and the target market, it will enable you to create a watertight marketing plan. You will know where you need to be seen, what content to write, what your message needs to be and all of this will appeal to your exact audience. In effect, you alienate the majority of your wider market and hone in on something specific.
Cordell & Cordell is, in essence, a solicitor firm. Okay great, but how on earth do you get new business as a solicitor firm apart from picking up bits of local work? What it has successfully done is alienate the majority of its wider market.
First, it says no to women. Second, it says no to men that are happily married. But who it definitely says yes to are men going through divorce. The message is: ‘Family law solicitors dedicated to helping men through divorce.’
There are approximately 90,000 opposite-sex divorces each year, so out of the 68 million people in the UK, the firm’s target market is only 45,000 people. But if you are one of the 45,000 men going through a divorce, which solicitor firm are you going to choose? You choose the one that understands and has the most experience of your situation. Cordell & Cordell has grown faster because it has a clear proposition targeting a defined market. Its marketing mix and message is made so much easier because of this clarity.
And the whole point of positioning is to make it really easy for someone to choose you.
If you are a small business looking to grow fast, you need to work exceptionally hard to understand what you are truly great at, and who your audience is. Then, you can hit them with crystal clear messaging and relevant content that backs up your story.
Steve Howard is the co-founder of Finally.