Our friend James showed us the wonderful independent bookstore, McNally Jackson while we were in New York recently. We left with a stack of books (which I never do, because I’m a digital downloads kind of guy) and probably could’ve stayed there an hour or two more if I hadn’t needed to take a quick tour of highly functional plumbing (bookstores do it to me every time!). I loved the store because it wasn’t selling every book. It sold books it thought would challenge you or feed you or make your mind better. And that showed.
Five Good Dishes
Some time over the past few days while walking around various parts of New York City between my other duties, I wrote a note in my Idea Machine ( what’s that?) that just said “Five Dishes.”
The idea that came to me for YOUR business and mine was this: We should really focus on having just five good “dishes” for our business. And by “dishes,” I was thinking like a restaurant and meaning offerings. Don’t serve everyone and don’t serve everything. It’s something I wrote about a lot in Freaks, too. We can no longer work for just everyone any more.
I was speaking with Daniel Rosenthal the New York photographer who was shooting Jacq for a project, and he agreed. When his website featured all kinds of different types of photography, he didn’t get a lot of work. When he narrowed it down to just edgy and attractive portrait work, business really picked up.
After her photo shoot, Jacq and I headed to the Upper West Side to eat at a really cool place called Jacob’s Pickles. Talk about a “five dish” kind of name. They sell beer, biscuits, and pickles. Everything else anchors around that. They’re so successful that we couldn’t eat there. The place was packed and so it felt like it was 200 degrees with people wedged into a small tiny space.
Pick Five Dishes
To make your business too complex is to make it harder for people to know whether they’re your customer. To serve too many people is to get lost in the shuffle. I’m very much opposed to most of the ways that people talk about “niche” marketing because they usually split their ideas along far-too-narrow lines, and yet, the goal for you (for me, for us) is to pick five plates we can serve well.
Five offerings (or fewer). Five complementary business elements.
Instead of “we do websites,” maybe it’s “Business generation websites for Main Street businesses.” Instead of “marketing consultant,” maybe you’re a “Print-to-online marketing conversion specialist.”
In all ways, look to narrow and tighten what you offer. Look to make it serve a very specific group of people. Cut out all the parts of your business that don’t matter. Cut out the weird offerings that only one in 20 people pick up. And make your business thrive.
I’ll cover this more in my newsletter on Sunday, only in a different way. Sign up?