I’ve been reading some old posts by Seth Godin recently and stumbled across an article about change and how it is a paradox of excitement and fear.
In this, he introduces a concept called ‘zooming’. He defines this as meaning “stretching your limits without threatening your foundation” – that way it makes change more palatable and less scary.
I have essentially interpreted this to mean ‘zooming out’. By defining your focus slightly more broadly, you can alter what you do in closely related areas, meaning your core focus doesn’t drastically alter.
The most effective way would be to diversify and offer products related to yours. If you define an overall problem/journey of which your product is a part, you can branch out and offer more of the solution.
Lots of businesses have been very successful in doing this.
One quick example of this that sprung to mind is Vistaprint – it expanded from defining the problem it solves from being business cards to promotional print products to helping people market their small business as a whole. As such, it now offers websites and social media marketing.
But perhaps this is too much change for your business. It’s so difficult to launch new products and it could be taking more attention away from your existing core then you’re comfortable with.
However, just because you aren’t able to branch out into related areas, doesn’t mean you can’t talk about them. And by talking about them, it means you can introduce your brand at another stage in the customer journey towards solving the overall problem.
This is exactly the opportunity offered by the huge explosion in content consumption that the web and – more recently – mobile has spawned; as long as you do it well (a different story, perhaps).
Content allows you to talk to potential customers in new, related areas and craft a journey towards becoming your customer without having to be commercially active in those areas. It allows you to comfortably ‘zoom out’.
In fact, by not being commercially active in the new areas, it means you can be more objective and therefore more trustworthy. It also potentially offers a comfortable baby step into being commercially active in the new areas in the future.
The sooner businesses realize this, the more impact they are going to have – as right now you can talk to customers in areas where your competitors aren’t. That isn’t going to be true for long.
But if you do it well, then it won’t matter when your competitors wake up anyway.