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Are You Offering Too Many Services or Products?

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3 Legged Stool ParableYou probably know that a stool only needs at least three legs to stand and support your weight.

Yet how often do you see a stool with more than three legs?

If a stool only needs three legs, why would you bother adding more?

That’s a series of questions I find myself asking so many business owners. If you’ve done it right, you’ve built a business providing services or products to a specific niche customer.

Ideally you have 1, 2 or 3 services or products all focused on serving that niche customer base.

So why would you start offering services that your target customers aren’t demanding and, more importantly, that takes your focus off of your unique selling proposition?

After 8 years of advising businesses I know the answer to these questions and everyone is directly related to MONEY, cash flow.

Instead of improving your marketing to target more of your ideal customers, you add new services to attract or serve more of the general market.

When you do this, a couple things happen:

  1. You lose your unique selling proposition
  2. You create confusion among prospects

Let me illustrate this with a real example!

Recently, I was doing research for a client. This client provides residential and commercial window cleaning services and I was on Google checking out the competition.

After going through the organic and business page listings, I started clicking on the ads.

One of the ads, which was promoting window cleaning, took me to a homepage for a service company, but no obvious mention of window cleaning.

The first thing I saw on the site were pictures of solar panels. Then the first sentence on the page, in fine print below the images read, “Southern California’s leader in solar panel cleaning”.

Needless to say, I was a little confused, but because I’m curious, I took the time to look around.

Offering too many services

“So why are they advertising for window cleaning?”, my thoughts exactly!

The next thing I did was go to the service tab and there it was, their “7 legged stool”.

overwhelming options

At this point you might be thinking about your own website and current business model and wondering what’s wrong with this?

In this case, the website will prove to be confusing and for those looking for window cleaning, they won’t bother to look around like I did, they’ll just leave.

What’s wrong with a 7 legged stool?

Have you taken a kid to the store for a candy bar or to buy a new toy?

Even if they knew what they wanted before you got to the store, chances are, once they are confronted with all those new options, they’ll hesitate and start to rethink their choices.

They get overwhelmed, and after some back and forth, they usually end up getting what they originally planned on.

However, website visitors aren’t so patient. They wont take the time to look through all of your services and offerings. They’ll just go to the next store to find that one thing they’re looking for.

This overwhelmed feeling is what website visitors experience when they see so many options.

The frustration that you feel as a parent is how the website visitor feels when they are misled and their time is waisted.

In the example I’ve been using, the company has a niche business, they clean solar panels. (I honestly didn’t realize that was necessary, but then I don’t own solar panels.)

I see this all the time and the result of focusing on so many services, is always the same, the company is diluting their unique sales proposition.

Which makes them just like every other company, offering cleaning services to anyone who will pay for them.

What’s the solution?

Instead of trying to market and sell 7 different services, focus on the one you do the best or the one that is the most unique. Make that your signature service or product.

Then make it more unique and attractive by wrapping it up with two others that complement it (your three legged stool).

For example, with the solar panel cleaning company, I’d recommend they do this:

Focus their marketing completely on solar panel cleaning, for residential and commercial.

Make solar the core service, but then use window cleaning and pressure washing as a package deal or bonus.

It’s safe to assume when you’re on the roof cleaning solar panels, dirty water is likely to run down the walls and windows. After the panels are clean you clean everything else.

I’m not saying you do it for free, but unlike your competitors who are charging for solar panel cleaning and then upselling pressure washing and window cleaning, you package it all together for one simple solution at one simple price, no candy store dilemma.

And as for all the other services, in this case, I’d probably stop advertising them and with Graffiti Removal, I’d make that another niche service. And recommend it any time they’re cleaning a commercial property and notice graffiti.

Sounds good right?

Then why do so many business owners resist these types of recommendations?

From my experience, there are two main reasons:

  1. They don’t know how to market
  2. They think they can reach more customers (make more money) by offering more or independent services

Here’s the problem with trying to be the “everybody’s my target market” business owner, you have to deal with everybody, and that includes the customers you don’t want. You spread your marketing so thin nothing works. And you don’t really end up making more money.

What do you say, is it time to rethink your business model, or shave a couple legs of your stool and get back to your core business?

Hopefully this article will serve as a guide to get you started!

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