Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Nobody's Perfect: Putting Your Limitations to Good Use in Your Marketing

I'm in a networking group that requires its members to schedule one-to-one meetings with each other. These meetings allow us to learn more about each other's business so that we can refer decent-quality clients to each other. One of my favorite questions to ask during these meetings is, "Who is a bad referral for you?" Newer members usually react as if I'd smacked them upside the face with a dead trout. Surely there are no bad referrals! We want to promote ourselves as all things to all people, right? 

Wrong. All of us, individuals and companies alike, have our limitations. And believe it or not, acknowledging what you can't or don't do can actually help drive more (and better) business in your direction. How is this possible? Let me count the ways.

1. Targeted Marketing

Face it, you can't help everybody, so you might as well focus your marketing efforts on those you can help the most. It would crazy of me to promote myself as a writer of every kind of content, because I'm just not that guy. I don't feel comfortable or even competent writing technical manuals, for instance, so I might as well focus on my niche as a writer of marketing content. This allows me to put my whole effort into attracting the clients who can best benefit from my services -- and who are most likely to want them. You can emphasize this in your marketing as a big plus for your customers who want focused skills and expertise on a particular type of product or service, not a jack-of-all-trades who can sorta-sorta do everything.

2. Honesty (the Best Policy)

How many times have you heard some company trumpeting its products or services as the greatest thing since the proverbial sliced bread? Did they mention any provisions or limiting factors at all, apart from an unreadable mass of asterisked fine print way down at the bottom of the page? How do you feel when you see that mass of fine print? Why don't they want you to read and know their limitations? What kind of shenanigans are going on here? Anyway, after sifting through lots of "We're the solutions to all your problems, yours is not to question why, just call us" messaging, it can come as breath of fresh air to read a message that says, "Hey, we may or may not be right for your needs. Why not contact us so we can discuss it?" That approach sounds more honest to me, so I'm more likely to believe whatever else that business has to say.

3. Imperfection as Uniqueness

Japanese art and philosophy embrace a concept called wabi-sabi, which holds that transient, limited, imperfect things have a unique attractiveness -- the patina of age on a statue, perhaps, or the slight unevenness in a handcrafted bowl. This kind of "flawed beauty" has also made many a "primitive" artist rich and famous. We appreciate the unique, the fingerprints of the maker on the object. Depending on your line of work, it might even enhance your attractiveness to prospects. Remember cabbage Patch Dolls? their phenomenal success was entirely based on the fact that they weren't perfect. Each doll had its own unique "personality" which holds a special appeal for someone. So does every brand that offers a well-defined, well-communicated UVP (unique value proposition). Build that into your marketing content, and you've got a lock on a truly tight niche -- Yourself, Inc.

If you really are perfect, of course, disregard all of the above. Otherwise, contact me for assist