What Happens When You Don’t Focus?

If you feel scattered because your clients are all over the place and you need to find more but aren’t sure where to look, Ilise Benun’s series of Live Workshops on focusing your creative business is for you. 


Many creative professionals believe that marketing the widest range of services to the largest possible group is the path to success. You’d rather be a generalist because you think you’ll get more business.

And on one level, it makes sense: The more opportunities you have to make a sale, the more sales you are likely to make. But in reality, it doesn’t work that way. In fact, success comes to those who focus on the smallest number of activities most likely to yield the quickest and largest return.

It is tempting to position yourself broadly, but if you want to be credible, you’re better off limiting your offerings — otherwise, you will pay for it. You won’t be able to provide a coherent message to the marketplace, nor will you be able to qualify potential clients quickly, which leads to wasted time and effort.

We live in the era of the specialist. In fact, the larger your target market, the more you need to specialize. Being a generalist — trying to be all things to all people — doesn’t sustain long-term business growth because you never create an identity and you never focus on a market that identifies you as “their” expert. Instead, you’re a blur in the mind of your market.

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Major creative firms have resources and wide experience in a variety of industries that make it easier for them to be generalists. Specializing will allow you to show the marketplace that you have a set of competencies that are focused enough to be done by a sole proprietor or small firm with a limited number of associates. Besides, your clients need to know that you not only understand the specific challenges that they face, but also that you have explicit experience that will help them.

In order to rise above the information overload that bombards your clients, you must distinguish yourself from all the other creative professionals clamoring at your clients’ doors. The only way to make a strong enough impact in the minds of your prospects so they choose you is to be clear about what you stand for: your focus or area of expertise.Ilise-Quotes

And while corporations everywhere attempt to grow by expanding their offerings with spin-offs and line extensions, the majority of successful businesses — large corporations as well as small ones — succeed by sticking with a very narrow focus, typically based on a market, a product or service, a benefit to the customer, a single need of the customer, a geographical location or a category within a category.

Your clients need you to specialize in exactly the service they need. They need to know they are dealing with an expert who serves their particular needs. That’s what will make them feel more comfortable trusting and choosing you. That’s what will help them sell you up the chain to their managers. So in reality, and in the long run, specializing gets you more business.

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But focus doesn’t come naturally. Focus requires ongoing attention and discipline, which is why many people don’t do it. It’s not something you do once and then it’s done.

Focusing means committing — and then recommitting — to your plan every day, refocusing your attention and reevaluating your choices on a regular basis. That’s the way to dominate the marketplace.

But there are plenty of benefits — here’s what you get when you do focus:

  • Fame: You’ll become known as an expert in your area of focus.
  • Fortune: You’ll command higher fees for your expertise.
  • Choice: You’ll get the work you want instead of taking whatever comes along.
  • Success: You’ll achieve your personal and business goals.

So if you feel scattered because your clients are all over the place and you need to find more but aren’t sure where to look, my new series of HOW Design University Live Workshops is for you. You can take control of your business by focusing on the clients with better projects and bigger budgets.

I will teach you how to find your ideal clients (or clone your favorite ones) so you can find more of them and develop the elevator pitch that makes them say, “This is the creative professional for me.”


How to Focus Your Creative Business

A Series of Live Workshops at HOW Design University with Ilise Benun

If you feel scattered because your clients are all over the place and you need to find more but aren’t sure where to look, this series of Live Workshops is for you.  You can take control of your business by focusing on the clients with better projects and bigger budgets. In this 3-part series, Ilise Benun, the Marketing Mentor, will teach you how to find your ideal clients (or clone your favorite ones) so you can find more of them and develop the elevator pitch that makes them say, “This is the creative professional for me.”

Learn more about each one and register:

One thought on “What Happens When You Don’t Focus?

  1. Seabee

    Thank you very much for this great article Ilse. Thats exactly what I’m trying to deal with at the moment, rather to specialize or not. I totally understand the big disadvantage of not doing so, especially when it comes to promote yourself and social media. But the thing is, it is really hard if you are already working on projects from different areas (let’s say illustration, logo design, and websites) and also if you really enjoy all of it. It’s not that I am greedy and would like to offer everything, absolutely not, I just don’t see how to focus, without having such a big demand in only one area that would allow me to do so (and still being able to do the other things somehow in my free time).

    And yes, I am struggling, also with making people understand what I exactly do.
    If you are interested in reading my blog post about this dilemma and how I am trying to deal with it, you’ll find it here: bit.ly/comm_service.

    I always appreciate feedback.

    Thanks again for sharing this.
    Best,

    Seabee

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