Online Marketing and the Olympics: Narrow Your Focus

I’ve always been fascinated by the Olympics. Sure, I love the global sense of community it creates (minus a few cheating scandals, of course) and I must admit that I’m particularly partial to the Olympic theme song. That aside, however, what really sparks my interest is the fact that to be a medalist in an event, an athlete needs to be utterly, completely focused and trained in a very narrow skill set. Even more interestingly, that’s all they need to succeed – any other skills outside their event are unnecessary.

Think about it – Michael Phelps is hailed as the greatest Olympian of all time. That said, all the success he’s had has been in just one area of the Olympics, swimming. Now, I can’t say I know this for sure, but I’m willing to bet that Michael isn’t also a world class ping pong player. (No guarantees, but just a hunch.) I’d also be willing to be that if Phelps was entered in many of the other varied events across the Olympic forum he wouldn’t even come close to making the first round of trials. Still think he’s a super-athlete?

Fortunately for us (and Michael Phelps), being incredibly successful doesn’t have to mean being a leader in all fields (or pools, I suppose.) While it might be nice if Michael’s ping pong skills were sharpened a bit for the upcoming community center ping-pong-O’rama, his Olympic success in the water isn’t likely to suffer if he can’t keep a serve on the table. Likewise, if your company is great at selling real estate, but sucks at selling coffee, that’s okay – there’s enough “potential success” in any one field or niche to keep your business more than just afloat. (Insert helium joke here.)

In fact, trying to expand yourself and your business too much can actually harm any current positive momentum you might have. Think about it. Michael Phelps spends about eight hours a day in the pool, which is about the maximum time a person can physically train for, especially if you factor in the pot-smoking breaks. (Kidding – everyone makes mistakes, Mike.) If Michael Phelps gave up an hour of that time to practice ping pong, an hour to work on his high bar routine, and another hour to perfect his high jump, he’s now only left with five hours to practice in the pool. Instead of leading the pack in swimming events, he’d be stuck lagging behind, his only consolation being the fact that now he can finally beat his little sister at table tennis.

Take a lesson from Michael here and reevaluate what your company is aiming to offer to clients. Would you rather be the leading expert in the best way to produce an eBook, or just a company with a vague knowledge in many aspects of publishing of all sorts? In today’s market of nearly limitless options for consumers (and nearly limitless amounts of customers), the best way to get more business isn’t to expand your focus, but to narrow it. Make it clear that you’re an expert in what you do, and focus on making those services better rather than just trying to be a Jack-of-all-trades. As I’m sure Michael Phelps will tell you, this method works – he’s got 18 medals to back it up.

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