Diversification can save your bacon

During the ancient days of marketing – roughly three years ago – I believed that businesses should focus on a very narrow set of skills, products and services. That philosophy had always served me and my clients well during my three decades in the field.

Recent economic developments have led me to rethink my position. While companies like Southwest Airlines and In-N-Out Burger continue to outperform their competition by concentrating on a few things, I’ve come to realize it’s a potentially risky position for the rest of us mortals.

Here at Imagine Marketing, through a combination of luck, necessity and design, we’ve managed to dodge a whole machine gun full of bullets by being diversified. Diversification means different things to different people. Recently, I read an investment book that said if you put all your money into stocks and mutual funds, even if they run the gamut from small caps to index funds, you’re not really diversified. It helps to be in real estate, commodities, gold and silver, etc. If one or more sectors take a dive, the hope is that another will pick up the slack.

Imagine Marketing, as far as I can tell, is diversified in these areas:

Clientele – Marketing firms that relied heavily on gaming, automotive and construction have seen those large-scale clients evaporate. For good or for bad, we were never a major player in those arenas. Our clients are all over the board: medical, legal, HR, architecture, sports, engineering, financial, retail, education, government, nonprofit, union and more. While some have been hit very hard, others have taken advantage of new opportunities. And we like to think we’ve helped.

Expertise – We’re good at a lot of different stuff. (As Muhammad Ali once said, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”) Some of the areas where we excel include strategic planning, graphic design, copy writing, public and media relations, social media, facilitation, training, public outreach, video production, animation and consultation. Oh, and we’re nice people to work with (if I do say so myself).

Geography – For those of us who have called Las Vegas home for many years, it’s hard to believe that other parts of the country are doing much better than we are. Thanks to virtual-this and e-that, there’s no reason we can’t ply our trade anywhere. Which is exactly what we’ve been doing.

People – Our team couldn’t be more different in personality, temperament, strengths, weaknesses, skills and work styles. Some of us are “shoot first and ask questions later” types, while others process everything, and I do mean everything, through the analytical meat grinder. But together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. I wouldn’t want it any other way. You couldn’t have a bunch of people like me, for example, or they’d multitask their way into oblivion.

So diversification has saved our bacon on more than one occasion. Of course, we have to be ever-vigilant about not losing focus. But that certainly beats losing business.

Brian Rouff is the managing partner at Imagine Marketing.
Contact Brian at brouff@imnv.com

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