Focus or diversity in marketing and business: How do you decide?

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Google will soon have offices in this building once it is rebuilt

There is a marketing argument that focus is good, and that being too many things to too many people is bad. In this regard, perhaps I’m caught in the middle with this blog:, after all, focuses on the architectural, engineering and construction community and nothing else — but that community is quite large and clearly encompasses many different types of contractors and businesses, whose relationships may be distant, at best. You don’t need to look far to find several well-developed and specialized blogs and sites serving different parts of this community, from residential contractors (and even specific sub-trades) to resources for architects and engineers, or others seeking large-institutional/government projects.

The diversity can be jarring, I realize. For example, this link to consultant Bernie Siben’s blog, outlining How to Schedule SOQ/Proposal Development would hardly have any relevance to the one-person residential renovation contractor referred in this?previous Construction Marketing Ideas blog entry. So, am I failing at Marketing 101 with this diverse coverage? (In case you are wondering, SOQ means “Statement of Qualifications).

The answer, here, is challenging. For example, we are profiling an incredibly successful residential renovation contractor in the next issue of our original publication, Ottawa Construction News. The contractor has about 130 employees in my mid-sized Canadian city and says he has barely tapped the market.

However, the story has become even more interesting in that this business has decided to set up a commercial division, and to do that, is building a new headquarters with the objective of obtaining the highest number of LEED points for any project ever built in Canada. Even if the builder doesn’t achieve that goal, he will still have one of the clearest examples of a LEED Platinum project built anywhere near his market service area.

Why do this? ?He has decided focus on what he believes is his market sweet spot — commercial and institutional LEED projects in the $1 to $10 million range. He figures that, by building his headquarters to the highest LEED standards and documenting everything systematically, he will be able to replicate the process at much lower cost for others — and make a good profit in the process.

Obviously residential renovation and high-end commercial construction reflect two different markets, but they connect at the intersection of building supply firms, subtrades and consultants.

Not surprisingly, this blog reflects my business’s original market, straddling both the residential and non-residential markets. After all, advertisers with something to sell to the AEC industry often serve both communities.

Nevertheless, if you would ask me for advice if you are seeking to define your marketing/business strategy, I would generally recommend focus rather than diversity, and even if you diversify, think about your focus in the process.

Sure, that residential renovation contractor has decided to expand into commercial work, but look at his clear niche — High level LEED projects in the $1 to $10 million range. You can’t get much more focused than that.

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