Your difference is your strength

Rob Kinsey attended one of my workshops on business development in Derbyshire, England. Rob is an artist who’s also passionate about motocross, having raced motorbikes, and remains involved in the motocross world. He came to my business development workshop to find out how he might diversify his work away from his passion of motocross art in order to ‘hedge his bets’. He wanted to have the ability to sell a greater variety of paintings to a wider range of clients.

By the end of the workshop he had changed his mind.

Instead of diversifying away from his passion, he decided to concentrate on it, painting exclusively motocross art and focusing on customers in that sport. Within a year, Rob was invited to exhibit his paintings at the international motocross championships in North America. There he was fêted; he was in his element; he was amongst the most enthusiastic customers for his work. And he sold many paintings.

Tessa, a young graphic designer in London, whom I advised, was enthusiastic about designing websites that in her eyes were not only functional but also of high artistic merit. They were so artistic that other people commented (sometimes not wholly in a complimentary way) that they were ‘pretty’ websites. She told me that other business advisers had recommended that she must diversify. They said she must be able to turn our hands to all kinds of designs, not just ‘pretty websites’. She could understand what they meant but this advice nevertheless went against the grain. Deep inside her, it felt wrong.

My own advice was different.

Instead of diversifying and competing with thousands of other website designers, I suggested that she should focus on designs about which she was passionate and which were consistent with her own personal style of creativity. She should focus on her competitive advantage. She told me that this felt right and was happy to hear my distinctive advice. But working with your passions in itself does not win customers – we also need to address the question of how and from where she should win new clients.

A complete business formula needs to link a product speciality with customers who want that speciality.

So the next stage of my consultancy was to explore with her which particular types of customers might want her particular style of highly artistic website design.

Obviously, not all businesses want pretty websites, and nor should they. On the other hand, some businesses would definitely want her designs – she spoke of florists, hairdressers, clothing boutiques, beauty salons and other types of business. Coincidentally, she said, these were the kinds of businesses she had dealt with so far. I wasn’t surprised. She was happy to work with them but felt that she needed a wider range of customers. Other people had said that she must diversify. That’s why she was asking me for marketing advice. She was, in effect, asking me how could she sell her particular style to all kinds of customers.

I changed the question to this: instead of trying to sell to everyone, how can we identify and win customers who want the kind of designs she excels at?

As a result, she approached the ‘right kind’ of customers for her work and built a business in those sectors. She didn’t try to do everything. She focused on what she could do well and the customers who wanted what she did well, deliberately and positively saying no to other kinds of businesses.

For both Rob and Tessa, there was no conflict in the end between their passion, marketing, and business success. Indeed, these elements were tightly connected within a marketing strategy that works for them and their chosen customers. They are not alone. They are not even unusual. Like many successful businesses they are true to their passions and work within a marketing strategy that connects their authentic selves with the right kind of customers.

Key Points

Connect your passions, personal style and difference to customers who want what you can uniquely offer. Don’t try to do everything. Focus on what you are best at and find the customers who want that thing.

What to do next

• Don’t diversify, specialise. What is your real passion and speciality? Which particular kind of customers want the speciality you are passionate about?

• Write down what you are passionate about, what you can specialise in, and what makes you different from your rivals. Then list the customer types who particularly want your speciality.

This is an extract from David’s marketing book ‘Chase One Rabbit: Strategic Marketing for Business Success. 63 Tips, Techniques and Tales for Creative Entrepreneurs’.
Read this and 62 more inspiring and practical marketing techniques on your smartphone by downloading this strategic marketing book as an eBook. It is also available as a paperback and as an Audiobook. This highly-acclaimed marketing book is also available in Spanish and French.

David Parrish is a marketing speaker, author and consultant. He works worldwide helping businesses to become even more successful by using the best strategic marketing techniques.

David Parrish. Marketing speaker

Paperback, audiobook and eBook

Translator Florence Magee (neé Harmelin) with author David Parrish

French edition translator Florence Magee (neé Harmelin) with author David Parrish


Marketing book Chase One Rabbit. Spanish translation

Celebrating the launch of the Spanish translation of the marketing book in Spain

David Parrish is an international keynote speaker and author on marketing. He makes speeches and presentations on marketing authentically and other marketing strategies and techniques.

He works world-wide as a marketing speaker and consultant, advising creative businesses, digital enterprises, cultural organisations and other enterprises on their marketing strategies and marketing authentically. David has a track record in helping businesses to make their marketing strategies more successful by providing marketing advice that is in tune with clients’ values and objectives. He works in partnership with his clients to devise winning marketing strategies and action plans that deliver successful results. Marketing authentically is often an important part of a strategy devised with a business using David as their marketing consultant.

David Parrish shares his marketing expertise through his marketing keynote speeches and presentations, interactive training workshops, books and business advice consultancy with individual clients worldwide. He applies marketing authentically in his strategy for his own international business.

“David helped us to devise a marketing strategy which focuses on our competitive strengths and the best market segments. Using effective marketing techniques we have improved the way we connect our creative talents with profitable markets.”
– Janina Gaudin. Director. Pepperbot Studios Ltd. New Zealand

Read more testimonials from David’s clients around the world.