Learn to Say “NO” and Stick to What You Do Best
For brands and the organizations behind them, there is always a temptation looming out there, prowling around like a lion waiting for his next meal. That temptation is developing a product, project, or service outside your sweet spot as a company. It is an extremely attractive temptation, the “easy money” right at your fingertips waiting to be made. While the short term gain may smell sweet, straying from your brand’s core competencies can have a souring effect over time.
Straying from what your brand does best can be a silent but deadly killer. The truth is, a brand is only as good as its reputation. With brands, every touch point really does matter. If you take something outside your wheel house, whether it is viewed as good or bad initially, you are impacting the perception your customers have of what you do. The seeds you sew today is the harvest you reap tomorrow. Sew small consultative projects and reap a small one-off consultative brand. Sew “lowest prices” and reap a brand racing to the bottom of a cut throat market. Sew “we’ve got the best features” and reap a brand contingent on useless do-dads.
Colgate, the toothpaste manufacturer, presents a fantastic case study of why brands should avoid straying from the products that made them successful in the first place. Several years ago, in a move that in retrospect seems completely off base, Colgate decided to enter the frozen entrée market. The company’s rationale was that consumers would eat the frozen meals and then brush with Colgate toothpaste. Unfortunately, consumers were confused and turned off by Colgate’s new product offering. As a result, the product was removed from shelves and Colgate has wisely recommitted itself to the oral hygiene market.
The failure of Colgate’s frozen entrée’s illustrates perfectly the importance of saying “no” to services outside your sweet spot. “No” is a brand asset. It takes discipline to pass on potential revenue opportunities, especially if you have sales or revenue goals to hit, but in the long run it will pay off. Saying “no” today to something outside your focus gives you a platform to clarify what makes your organizations the best in the world. The prospect will not only understand your true value proposition better but also appreciate your honesty. In my experience, this ALWAYS pays off down the road.
Try saying “no” more today and see the clarity and power it can bring to your brand tomorrow.
Craig Johnson is the chief strategist and co-founder of Matchstic, a premier branding agency.