When I say the words, “Grey Goose,” what automatically comes to mind?
a) Purple fairies
b) Your high school prom date
c) Roseanne Barr
As much as I'd love it if the answer were C, you probably picked D, vodka.
Congratulations, you are correct.
Whether prompted or not, most everyone who sees the words “Grey Goose,” will automatically think, “vodka.” Unless they're twelve. Or Amish.
The reason for that is pretty obvious. You ready?
It's because GREY GOOSE = VODKA.
Not rum. Not whiskey. Not gin. Not cognac. And certainly not the spring line of Victoria's Secret panties.
But you knew that already, right?
Perhaps what you didn't know, however, is WHY. It isn't that the company couldn't make rum, whiskey, gin, cognac, and/or a limited edition series of pink panties with a pack of white geese flying across the ass.
It's that they deliberately and strategically choose not to. And for good reason, m' lord.
Imagine, for a moment, that they did make all of those things, in addition to vodka. And then imagine if I asked you what automatically comes to mind when you hear, “Grey Goose.”
How would you ever know how to respond?
And that's the thing: You wouldn't.
And that's precisely why Grey Goose only makes vodka, because they're known for it. And that's the same reason why they can charge top dollar for it. And that's the same reason why you'll actually pay it.
And that's also the one little tiny diamond-in-the-ruff concept that can either make or break your business. Becoming known for something. Most business owners understand this concept, and sure, they want to become known for what it is that they're doing. The problem is that many go about it the wrong way, unknowingly doing everything they can to sabotage their own goals.
You see, in order to become known for something, you cannot attempt to become known for many things.
That comes off as overly simplistic, but it's really not.
How many of you are out there, taking whatever freelance photography jobs you can get? You've done weddings, family portraits, senior pictures, professional headshots, boudoir, and your cousin Mikey playing the guitar. You call yourself a photographer, and have a list of services that spans from here to Antarctica. You know, just in case someone's looking for that, so you don't ‘miss an opportunity.' Tell me, what will you become known for?
How many of you are out there, taking whatever freelance writing jobs you can get? You've done web copy, sales copy, blog content, SEO article writing, direct response mailers, newsletters, and your sister's maid of honor speech. You call yourself a copywriter, and have a list of services that spans from here to China. You know, just in case someone's looking for that, so you don't ‘miss an opportunity.' Tell me, what will you become known for?
Not to worry–you aren't the only one.
Both small businesses and big businesses alike are guilty of this. Small businesses are desperate to make any profit at all, so they take what they can get, and try to appeal to as many people as possible. The rationale is that the more people you appeal to, the more clients you'll have. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works.
Big businesses, on the other hand, are always trying to increase profits, so in order to do that, they assume the best way is by increasing their market share. So they start launching new products, new off-shoots of the same brand, and as a result, instead of strengthening their brand, they dilute it, because now their brand doesn't stand for one thing, it stands for a big blur of things. And then their market share ends up going down–the exact opposite of what they were going for. Sucks, huh?
In both cases, the businesses act against their own best interests, because they've got their eye on quick profits, rather than long-term ones. So they expand. But instead of expanding their brands to meet other needs, they should perhaps focus on expanding within their own category. And then OWN THE SHIT OUT OF IT.
Become known for something–rather than trying to become known for everything.
Because frankly, that's impossible.
Another great example of how this can work in your favor is Stephen King.
What words came to mind there? Most likely, “horror,” “suspense,” or “holy-fucking-freak-show.” (I really hope it was the latter.)
Do you know how significant it is that we can instantly identify him like that? First of all, he's known for it. What that means is that there are loads of people who don't even read the jacket of his latest book before buying it; they just do, because they know he's the best at what he does. (How's that for a marketing technique?) Second of all, anytime anyone is looking to read a book in the horror/suspense genre, who do you think they'll be referred to first? That's right, Stephen King. Lastly, because he's known for it, and because there's a demand as a result, how much do you think he's able to command from publishers, every time he works on a new book? That's right–a whole hell of a lot more than you or I, my friend.
Translate this into the role of a freelancer. Let's say you take a route like I have, and become known solely for witty, personality-filled web copy. I make a point of only working with cool, hip companies who have a sense of humor and need that translated into cool, hip web copy. I don't do dry. I don't do corporate. There are plenty of people out there who are good at that, and who enjoy that–I'm not one of them. So I don't. And I refuse to.
As a result, I've become known especially for this particular style of web copy. So let's liken this to our Stephen King example; just like there are loads of people who buy his latest book before they even know what it's about, I typically get clients who hire me before ever seeing so much as a sample. And just like anyone looking for terror/suspense will automatically get referred to Stephen King, any companies who are looking for lively, fun web copy that jumps off the page and keeps readers interested in their message, automatically get referred to me. And just like Stephen King is able to command top advances for his books, I'm able to command top rates for my writing. Because I'm known for it. And when you become known for something, it's assumed you're the best. And people want the best. So they pay for the best.
See how that works?
Specialization = summoning money.
Generalization = groveling for it.
Which equation do you want to be a part of?
Grey Goose, baby. Grey Goose.
Those are the only two words you need to remember. And maybe Ashley Ambirge, too–I hear she's pretty hot.