What does online dating have to do with business? Let’s unpack this.
By far the biggest mistake I see clients make is: not defining their brand before they launch a blog or website.They either get intimidated and think they have to do Proctor-and-Gamble-style branding, or they get wrapped up in what I call “tool-itis” – worrying about having all the right online tools instead of who your target customer is and what problems you can help them solve.
I use a lot of analogies to make concepts easy to understand, so I want to challenge you today to start thinking of your brand as the” online dating profile for your business.”
Anyone who’s ever used match.com, Zoosk, eHarmony, etc, knows that the key is getting your online profile written properly so that you put your best foot forward, and you attract the ideal person you want to date. It takes some thought and work, but the payoff is well worth it. I mean, think about their process: they ask you your marital status, whether you smoke or drink, whether you have pets, your race or ethnicity,hobbies/interests, where you live, and so on.Then, they turn around and ask you to spell out exactly what kind of person you are looking to date,
Now, this is not the time to leave anything to chance, right? For example, if you are allergic to cigarette smoke, and therefore do not want to date someone who smokes, you probably ought to state that, right? This way you can zero in on your ideal person, and they can zero in on you.
Now, how does all this apply to defining your brand?
It’s the exact same concept.
You start to define your brand by spelling out who your business is, what you have to offer, how you are different than your competitors, and how to get in touch with you. Truthfully, most folks get this part right most of the time. Where people fall short is failing to think about, research, understand, and communicate who the target market is they want to “attract”.
The Problem: Trying to Grow Too Fast
New York Times entrepreneurship blogger Jay Goltz says one of the top 10 reasons small businesses fail is “out of control growth.”
“This would include moving into markets that are not as profitable, experiencing growing pains that damage the business, or borrowing too much money in an attempt to keep growth at a particular rate. Sometimes less is more.”
This is usually caused by trying to sell to the world, or taking on a large account without having the financial resources or personnel to handle it. In today’s market, having a profitable niche is the key to success. Pretty much all the mass market product ideas are taken up. I mean how many more fluoride toothpastes or paper towels can there be?
So, why is niche the right approach? Because specialists can charge more.
Don’t believe me?
Which kind of mechanic gets a higher labor fee, a large retail garage like Pep Boys, or a third-party mechanic who specializes in Honda maintenance? Or, who makes a higher co-pay, general practitioners, or the pediatric dermatologist?
I rest my case.
Online Dating Profile Formula
Step 1. Who are you?
First, you have to define your business. This is where you state what kind of specific business you are in: graphic designer, personal trainer, freelance writer, email marketer,etc.
2. What do you do or offer?
You will sink your company in a heartbeat if you try to take on every piece of work, every customer, or every project that comes your way.
Have you ever seen this slogan in an ad?
With all due respect to Mr. Palmer,yes some jobs are too big or too small.
What I’m saying is, set yourself up for success.
As Derek Halpern of Social Triggers says “you can’t dig 100 1-foot wells, you have to dig one 1000 foot wells…or something like that”.
Let’s use a freelance writer as an example.
- Wrong: I’m a freelance writer.
- Right: I write copy for online entertainment, pop culture, and music blogs.
See the difference?
Step 3. What Don’t You Do?
Wait, hold up. Isn’t that a money-limiting move?
Not at all.
I am a firm believer that it is important to spell out in black and white what you do not do, services you do not offer orproducts you do not sell. This way, you convey transparency and honesty to your target audience, AND, equally as important you don’t attract customers you do not want or can’t properly serve.
Applying the online dating profile formula to this step, if you don’t date smokers, you need to say so up front. If youdon’t work with non-profits, say that. If you build websites but you don’t do logo design (a common assumption) you need to state that.
Think I’m joking when I say this will help, not hinder your business? Consider this example:
The Roast Grill is a hot dog restaurant in Raleigh, NC. They state very clearly and firmly they sell hot dogs with chili, chips, and Cokes – Cokes in 8 oz glass bottles to be exact.
And that is it.
No fries. No ketchup. No mustard. No onions. No relish. (And don’t ask either.)
So do people stomp out and go home? No.
There’s a line out the door for lunch every single day they’re open. Bill Cosby made his way there when he was in town doing a show. Most importantly, they’ve been in business for over 75 years with that exact same business model.
Who is your product or service for? What kind of customers do you want to serve?
Small, medium, large? Beginners or tech geeks? A specific industry or speciality? Local or world-wide? These are all important factors to consider,validate, and state for your intended audience – and the more definitive the better.
Brain Currency serves people who want to start a side hustle business and turn it into a full-time venture. They’ve got working knowledge of the web and blogging, but just not the marketing side. The reason is, I do not have time to teach a beginner about the web and PCs. Is it needed? Yes, definitely, but I don’t have the bandwidth to serve that audience. I should know, I’ve tried. I don’t mean you need to be a code expert for me to work with you; I just mean when I say “type in this URL”, you don’t think its a sports league.
So, coming back to our freelance writer example again:
Wrong: I write for blogs.
Right: I write for entertainment blogs with a unique readership of 5000-50,000 visitors per day. I don’t write gossip or paparazzi-type posts. I won’t write posts that criticize a public figure’s children.
So, the challenge from this post is, write an online dating profile for your business.
Post it in the comments below, and
remember “sometimes less is more.”