The Focus Theory
Focus is the secret of success.
Companies, businessmen, brands, but also artists, can find growth and prosperity by focusing on core products/offers and forgoing the temptation to diversify into adjacent activities.
In the short term, a wide approach can increase revenue, exposure to the media, and results. But in the long-term, and in the presence of narrowly focused competitors, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Take laser. A laser is a non-expensive, weak, and easy-to-use form of energy. But with a laser, you can drill a hole in a diamond, or wipe out cancer.
Moreover, 80% of your results are usually driven by 20% of your efforts (the Pareto Law). So, yes, it is effective to focus on that 20% and expanding only those activities, instead of spreading yourself too thin into the not-so-effective remaining percentage of actions.
Another one thing to consider about the power of focus, is that people love specialists: you don’t go to the drugstore to heal your tooth, even if there’s a cool, branded corner with the latest orthodontics technology.
I bet you prefer going down the traditional, old route of visiting your dentist.
And this is the same for gyms to work out, groceries at markets, and a website designer for your online presence.
That’s the psychological power of narrowing your niche down and focus on your core competencies.
The better product will win in the marketplace.
This is called “the quality axiom”, a truth so self-evident it doesn’t need to be proved. Then suddenly, someone proves it wrong. Doing the other way round.
The fact is: quality is a perception value, and perception is subjective. What people buy is a brand. What that brand communicates to them. If it’s aligned with their interests. Their core values. Their persona. Their lifestyle.
Why I’m telling you all this?
As this focus theory (and practice) in business it’s absolutely true; in any kind of business.
But it states that “branding” is the most important thing, the basis to start with to define your focus.
What do you want to communicate? To whom?
Wait, why is a book focused on unfocusing we’re talking about focus?
Because I’m not talking about not focusing. Not at all.
Focusing and branding are part of a marketing strategy you create to promote yourself or your business.
Let’s take a step back here…
I want to emphasize the concept that you don’t have to choose between two sides of yourself, if you, like many of us, have multiple passions, multiple skills, multiple talents, or multiple ways of earning a living; and you don’t want to be confined in silos, old labels, and cliches.
Today is possible, even preferable, to be a multi-hyphenated individual: someone that one her business card writes “Songwriter/Marketing funnel expert”, “Chef/Food newsletter copywriter”, or more broadly “Artist-Preneur”.
But, please take a while and look better at what I just wrote: you see? In my first two examples, there are both multi-talent approaches but also focus on a specific market niche.
It’s no the same to write “Chef/Writer”: those are too generic definitions. You can write poetry, you can write letters to your mum, whatever. In personal branding, that what we are talking about, it’s important to define, to narrow down your niche, so you don’t look everything to everyone, but a multi-talented person with a clear, laser-like focus in her niche or sub-niche market.
Back to our example: instead of “Chef/Writer”, what about “Sushi-Chef/Food newsletter copywriter”?
Now, we know that your specific skill is cooking Sushi, and we know that you write to help to sell (copywriter), you focus on online stuff and you focus on newsletters on, of course, food, your market.
If I was someone asking for a consultation, or a business wanting to hire you, which one do you think would work better?
But we can go deeper down the niche and sub-niche rabbit hole: what about “Sushi-Chef in New York City/Asian food newsletter copywriter”? Now we also know you know really well your niche because you write about the same food area you work in, and from knowing that you work in New York, we gain knowledge of the fact that you can work at a rapid pace, in major cities, probably your kind of cooking is for premium or luxury places, and so on…
But hey, let’s take a breath and immerse ourselves another level deeper: “Tempura-Chef in 5 stars hotels/Sushi newsletter Copywriter for 6 figures businesses”.
Alright, so now we are extremely focused. We can even go down deeper again, but you run the risk of narrowing too much; it really depends on your niche. If after some market analysis, you find that with this level of focus you still reaching a wide-enough audience (taking into account the total addressable market, the market share you think you can attack, and an average conversion rate of that share), go for it.
It’s your brand, your choice.
But now, you got a wow-personal brand.