Why Focus Is Your Friend

In a world with numerous social networks, where everyone is creating every form of content directed toward a public with the attention span of a goldfish, it’s easy to think that the best thing to do is more. More branding. More marketing.

But, in the immortal words of Admiral Akbar, “It’s a trap.” As the virtual volume online reaches a fever pitch, it’s harder than ever to stand out. And yet, that’s what you’re charged with doing for your brand. Whether you’re a business, nonprofit, governmental, or personal brand, I’ll bet your assignment is the same. Get the word out about who we are and what we’re doing. Get people excited. Make them take action.

Sound familiar? With a tall order like this, it can be comforting to answer by saying, “We’ll do everything!” To be fair, it doesn’t always sound exactly like that. Doing everything often creeps up on you. We’ll say everything. We’ll cram the whole sales pitch — every benefit, every competitive advantage — into everything. We’ll be everything to everyone. In every message, in every form of content that we share on every social network. 

I’d like to suggest a new approach. Stop being everything and doing everything. Embrace simplicity in what you say and what you do as a marketer. Instead of just doing more for the sake of doing more, you’re going to stand out by doing less. And that starts by focusing more.

Focus What You Say

Unlimited access to free publishing platforms has made brands lazy. We don’t have to edit. We can say everything.

But it in a crowded media environment where everyone is fighting for attention, less can be more. This simple advice is easy to nod along with but few take the time to put it into action effectively. That’s because doing less only works if you’ve pared your message down to the most essential elements. Try writing a short sentence — think of a 140-character tweet — that tells your brand’s story.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t merely shortening what you say. It’s editing what you say to be as clear and concise as possible for the audience you’re trying to reach. With your core story in place, you can use this as a lens to apply to each new form of media you embrace.

Just remember to …

Focus Where You Say It

In my book Get Scrappy I caution against the dangers of checklist marketing. Checking social networks and forms of content off of an arbitrary checklist. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all marketing plan.

Take your carefully crafted brand story and nurture it by telling it consistently, one form of content at a time. If writing comes naturally, focus on blogging. If you have broadcast and production experience, podcasting or videos may be best.

Focus where you share your content as well. Instead of trying to be on every social network and falling short on most, select the network where your audience spends the most time and start there. By committing to one social network first, you can better learn what works best for your community instead of the plate-spinning that is managing multiple social networks.

Could you expand and do more? Sure, but not at the expense of your core story told through focused content on your most important network. Forget being everything to everyone everywhere. To stand out, focus your story and share it carefully and consistently over time.