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Want to grow your business? Narrow your focus

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

Though it may seem counterintuitive, narrowing your focus as a company is a key factor for success. Steve Brody, a current chair of Vistage International and president of Naviond U.S., talks about how focusing on just the right market segment makes all the difference.

Robin: Hello, and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at tops brands and their marketing strategies. I am Robin Tooms, VP of strategy at Savage Brands, and my guest today is Steve Brody, a current chair of Vistage International and president of Naviond U.S. So Steve, welcome back to Brandonomics.

Steve: Thank you, Robin. It’s good to be here.

Robin: Well good, I’m glad you’re back. You’ve obviously had a great career, even formerly a Senior VP of Marketing at Coca Cola, so I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of different challenges, and some things over and over again. One thing that I’d like to tackle with you is just this idea that sometimes brands try to be everything to everyone, and maybe that’s not such a good idea. So I was curious what kind of advice you have to share about that.

Steve: Well, that’s a fun one also because I’ve worked with primarily CEOs of privately held companies, and they all have an illness, if you will. The illness is that they never saw a customer that they didn’t like, and that’s what it means by being all things to all people. When you do that, and you try to offer your product or service to anyone, you tend to dilute what it is, and you become gray to the marketplace.

So one of the suggestions that I recommend and have people try to do, which is really counter-intuitive, is to try to narrow the space that they’re working on. And when I say space, I’m talking about a market segment or market segmentation. So one of those guiding rules is that all of marketing is really about segmentation, and most of the companies don’t understand that. So let me give you a quick example of that. I had a client some years ago who was in the engineering space and dealing with oil and gas companies, and started off early on in his company taking business anywhere; on the rigs, on land, any type of projects.

Robin: No focus, yeah.

Steve: And there were tons of companies in that space who realized that they really had hard time separating themselves. When he started looking at something that they do that they love to do, that some of their people love, it was the much bigger challenge: the most difficult assignment, working in 10,000 feet of water and the challenge of how to design the project to do a rig in that. So they changed their entire company to focus only on deepwater rigs, and have since become the leader in that marketplace. By narrowing what they do, they’ve become an expert in that field, and their business just took off and blossomed. But very different than what they were doing previously.

Robin: That idea of homing in on strategy makes you actually an improved brand, an improved company, whereas some of your other clients see that they’re excluding a bunch of people — but focus is actually better.

Steve: And they have a hard time avoiding to just do business with anybody.

Robin: Well that is solid advice, I appreciate that. Thank you so much, Steve. This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.


Vistage International is a peer-to-peer executive coaching organization, providing CEOs, business owners and executives of small to mid-size companies leadership training and business coaching to help them grow their companies. Founded in 1957, Vistage has more than 18,000 CEO members in 16 countries.

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