Why don't most people specialize even though they know that they should?
Because there is inevitably time in between creating a more focused business model, and actually achieving a healthy revenue stream.
Most people can't handle the fear.
You see, there’s this dark, scary place you have to pass through first—turning down customers, and therefore, money.
How do you make this jump in a practical way?
You still need to make money, and many of your contacts may still recognize you as an all-things-to-all-people brand.So how should you market yourself during this crucial time period?
There's no easy way around it, you need to TRUST.
Trust that the fear you experience is the canyon between who you are now, and the invincible badass you will become, is worth it.
The side you’re on now is the Everything-to-Everyone Cliff. The other side, the Badass Brand Mountaintop. If you want to reach it, you’ll have to take the leap.
The truth is, there will be a lull, no question.
But the length of that lull depends on how much energy you put into educating people about your new niche. Passively hoping clients will find you is not productive. Go to a networking meeting every morning for a month and call everyone on your contact list to update them.
Hit the ground running with a clear target and message, and you will have success very quickly. But you, of course, have to notify everyone! When we decided to only do Brandups and say no to all other work, I called three old prospects to whom I’d submitted proposals for large projects. I told them our offers no longer stood—that we'd changed our model, and now we could do the same project but in two days and at a fraction of the cost. All three signed up. But it required some legwork on my part.
I often say with a badass brand you can attract clients instead of chasing them, and I mean it. You have to at least plant the seeds, though. It takes upfront work. But the work garners larger and better results when you have clarity about what you offer, and then every time you say NO, you further strengthen your brand's positioning in the world.
So what am I saying: pick a niche and never waver?
On the one hand, I think you should commit to your niche 100% for it to be successful.
But if someone comes along asking for something outside of your specialty, and you need the cash—if it's not too far outside, if it's not going to drain all your energy—who am I to say you can't? Sure you can, it's just going to prolong the good stuff because it's taking your focus away from your target.
If you're desperate for money, do what you need to do. But the quickest way to get there is to stay the course.
Steve and I went into debt because we doubled our price from $16,000 to $32,000, and then didn't close a client for five months. But we knew if we worked at the lower price, we wouldn't profit anyway, so we'd just be spinning our wheels. That decision put us $40,000 in debt.
But it eventually paid off. We brought in $100,000 worth of projects the next month when all those proposals finally closed!
And this only happened because we stayed committed to the $32,000 projects. We ended up doing our first real Brandup with a client who desperately wanted to work with us but couldn't spend the money. We basically adjusted our existing Brandup offering to fit her needs. After doing a few more projects like that, it was like—lightbulb! Just do that!
I don’t believe we would’ve had this success if we hadn't said no to the clients with tighter budgets. We wouldn't have been in debt, but we would have been stuck in purgatory, not making any money.
When we were going into debt, we probably could have closed at least a couple of those clients by lowering our price. But those would have been nightmare clients, and working with them wouldn't have gotten us to where we are today.