Narrow Your Focus to Increase Your Impact


The trouble with many smart people is that they tend to say too much. As a result their message is lost in a fog of detail. What they don’t recognize is that less is better when selling an idea or positioning their product or service.

Someone once said that presenting an idea is like drilling for oil. If you don’t strike oil right away, STOP BORING.

Years ago I had a radio talk show in Los Angeles for over a decade. Listeners would call in with a wide range of life problems seeking some piece of helpful advice. I quickly realized that the audience would change to another station with the flick of a finger if they lost interest. As a result I learned to keep the topic succinct, aim for focus with the listeners, and set the expectation of getting one thing accomplished. Hence the show was named “The Next Step”. We have to realize that,

o  At best we remember 10% of what we hear

o  We live in a short-attention span self-centered generation

The solution to the attention and absorption challenge for any message is to

Narrow our focus to increase our impact

This involves surrendering the impulse to be all things to all people. We have to curb our fear of leaving important stuff out. What we don’t realize is that one thing said well and focussed on the customer has what psychologists call a “halo” effect. It generalizes to everything else.

I love the question Harry Beckwith asks in his classic book on marketing “Selling the Invisible”

Which terrifies service marketers the most:

A)  The suggestion that they must position their service?

B)  The shower scene in Psycho?

The correct answer is A.

Think of how Avis Car Rental leveraged it’s second place to Hertz in positioning a customer oriented message,

“We try harder”

I don’t know about you, but I will go most anywhere where the Company works hard on my behalf. 


What one distinctive thing differentiates you from all your competitors and gives the customer what they want?


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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