Do you know what it is? Do you suffer the same issue?  It’s called focus and clarity of message.  I recently read an article by Paul Leinwand and Cesare Mainardireprinted in the Harvard Business Review.  They compared K-Mart Target and Wal-Mart.  It doesn’t’ matter how you feel about each store’s practices and policies, the latter two are thriving and K-Mart isn’t.  The reason is how they position or focus themselves and that they do everything to demonstrate that image.

  • Wal-Mart: Their well-defined way to play focuses on “always low prices” for a wide range of consumer items, from food to prescriptions to electronics.
  • Target: Their way to play emphasizes design-forward apparel and home decor for image-conscious consumers. Everything from store layout to advertising to inventory conveys an eye for style.
  • K-Mart: Mass merchandising company that offers customers quality products through a portfolio of exclusive brands and labels.

K-Mart is ambiguous and it shows in their stores.  Now think about your message; how do you differentiate yourself from others in like businesses.  My clients know my focus is foundational infrastructures for business. I don’t do turnarounds; I don’t do sales training although I have great colleagues who do.  I focus on the planning, marketing and people side of the business and am clear on what I offer.  My clients know they get value and support.  What do your people know?  How do they describe you? Does everything you do follow with your image?

There was a great commercial describing how confusing it can be and they showed signs like motorcycles and pedicures or bridal and pet shops.  Find the image you want to convey and focus on it. Don’t be K-Mart.