Are you in the “plastics business”? Perhaps you say that you make small appliances, or fishing tackle, or gas grills… Most people describe their business by either the technology they specialize in or the end products that they produce. That’s not an inherently bad thing, but it can limit your growth, especially if your consumers don’t operate by the same definitions.
Let’s say for example that you make aluminum shelving. Your expertise revolves around the forming, shaping and packaging of aluminum shelving systems. You sell your products through big-box retailers and consider your competition to be low-cost imported aluminum shelving.
But how do consumers define your business? Realistically, they’re not looking for shelving specifically, but rather a solution for organization. Specifically they are buying an “organized closet” or a “neat garage”. When they go to the store, they are probably not pre-disposed to aluminum shelving at all. They look at wire, wood and plastic alternatives, then move beyond shelving altogether. Cabinets, peg-boards, tubs and wall-mounted rail solutions all come into play.
Every one of these products is vying for that consumers dollar, and they will ultimately decide which variation will provide them with the best option for their specific need. By definition, the aluminum shelving company plays into a very small sub-set of the consumer’s consideration. No matter how “innovative” they try to be with their shelving they may or not ever intrigue the decision maker when it comes to a purchase decision.
Fast forward and assume this same company redefines themselves as a provider of home organization solutions. The world of opportunity literally opens up before them. Now they can learn what the real needs of their consumer are, and develop new products accordingly. While they will still wear the lens of aluminum forming core competency, they can look beyond that in terms of areas they can explore.
Don’t let your definition of your company limit the possibility of your future.