In Business: You Can’t Please Everyone

Many businesses try to capture a wide ranging variety of customers. After all they reason, the larger the market the more chance of getting business. I can understand how they reason.

I was in a shop a little while ago in a small market town in Wiltshire. From the layout of the shop it was very obvious that they were trying to please everyone. The shop is a very small version of a department store and is literally trying to sell everything!

Hardware, gardening, linens, a few armchairs, one bed, photo albums, stationery, toys, china, haberdashery and the stock list goes on and on. In the end the shop is getting full of stock and much of it is getting old and not moving. I can imagine asking to buy a super size xyz widget and being told they don’t have any but will order some for me. Next time I go in sure enough they are selling xyz widgets and I only need one!

This store is not alone. Many businesses try to please too many people. It is far better to have a niche, to become a specialist. When customers ask you for something you don’t sell recommend where they can go, be helpful but don’t spoil your niche market by trying to sell everything. You don’t want to appear to be a “Jack of all trades and a master of none”.

A niche or specialist supplier can have a range of items so that anyone wanting a product in that niche from you will not be disappointed. Such a business becomes the first place to go for choice in that niche. Indeed specialist suppliers are in great demand both as physical shops and online stores.

Feel free to leave your comments in the box below.

Roland Millward
The Entrepreneur Club

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3 thoughts on “In Business: You Can’t Please Everyone

  1. I have to agree – I see a lot of people offering far too many services that you end up questioning what it is they actually do!

    It is far better to narrow your focus.

  2. This is an extremely important point that Roland is raising, as I see more and more businesses of all kinds trying to do this, particularly given the economic situation.

    But doing so is madness, and here’s why…

    The more specialised you are, the more you can be perceived as being an expert in your field with the correct marketing and positioning, that makes sense right? You can’t possibly be an expert in 10 or 15 different fields, but in one or two, you could, couldn’t you?

    This is where it benefits a business. If you’re considered an expert in your field, not only will you be considered as one of the businesses that prospects will want to use (simply based upon on the fact that you are an expert), but you can charge (within reason) what you want.

    This means an end to trying to keep your prices at a level where they’ll suit everyone, an end to you trying to have your services be appropriate to everyone, and it means that you can work around 25%-30% less for the same money.

  3. Good comments here. Another important factor is that if you want to be perceived to be an “expert” then you really have to be in a position to keep up to date within your area of expertise. If you spread yourself too far then that becomes increasingly difficult and can lead to an acceleration of a business decline.

    I am sure if the shop you reference sat down and analysed sales they would quickly realise where the real margins are and would probably make significant changes but that involves reviewing your business on a regular basis and how many do that? I would argue that the successful businesses do!

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