My BNI chapter follows the standard practice of requiring its members to have one-to-one meetings. They’re great opportunities for us to learn more about each other’s business and how to refer clients to each other. One of my favorite questions to ask during these meetings is, “Who is a bad referral for you?” Newer members usually react as if I’d smacked them upside the face with a dead trout. Surely there are no bad referrals! We want to promote ourselves as all things to all people, right?
Wrong. All of us, individuals and companies alike, have our limitations. And believe it or not, addressing what you can’t or don’t do can actually help drive more (and better) business your way.
How is this possible? Let me count the ways:
1. You can target your marketing. Face it, you can’t help everybody, so you might as well focus your marketing efforts on those you can help the most. It would crazy of me to promote myself as a writer of anything and everything, because I’m simply not that guy. I don’t feel comfortable or even competent writing certain types of projects, so I might as well focus on my niche as a writer of marketing content. This allows me to put my whole effort into attracting the clients who can best benefit from my services — and who are most likely to want them. It also does prospects a favor by helping them make a more informed decision.
2. Honesty is the best policy. How many times have you heard some company trumpeting its products or services as the greatest thing since the proverbial sliced bread? Did they mention any provisions or limiting factors at all, apart from an unreadable mass of asterisked fine print way down at the bottom of the page? How did you feel when you saw that mass of fine print? Why don’t they want you to notice their limitations? What kind of shenanigans are going on here? Anyway, after sifting through lots of “We’re the solutions to all your problems, yours is not to question why, just call us, stupid,” messaging, it can come as breath of fresh air to read a message that says, “Hey, we may or may not be right for your needs. Why not contact us so we can discuss it?” That approach sounds more honest to me, so I’m more likely to believe whatever else the company has to say.
3. Imperfection can attract. Japanese art and philosophy embrace a concept called wabi-sabi, which holds that transient, imperfect things have a unique attractiveness — the patina of age on a statue, perhaps, or the slight unevenness in a handcrafted bowl. This kind of flawed beauty has made many a “primitive” artist rich and famous. We appreciate the unique, the fingerprint of the maker on the object. Depending on your line of work, it might even enhance your attractiveness to prospects. Remember Cabbage Patch Dolls? Their phenomenal success was based entirely on the fact that they weren’t perfect; each doll had its own unique “personality.” And so do you! Sell that, and you’ve got a lock on a truly tight niche — Yourself, Inc.
On the other hand, if you really ARE perfect, disregard all of the above.
For information about writing services and current package deals, check out my website at www.reynoldswriting.com.