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Deep Or Wide?

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  • Deep Or Wide?

    Some companies are an inch deep and a mile wide, meaning that they offer a very limited range of services/products and attempt to sell them to everybody.

    Other companies are a mile deep and an inch wide. They specialize in a fairly narrow market segment and provide a family of related services and products that are relevant to that niche.

    There's no "right" or "wrong" here - there's just a choice.

    But think about this when choosing your business model: It's far easier to sell add-on services and/or products to existing customers than it is to have to keep coming up with new customers.

    Generally speaking, this would mean that you have to give serious consideration to the "mile-deep-inch-wide" model.

    Just off the top of your head, what do you think would be easier (in the long run):

    1. Establishing your expertise in, and selling a family of services and products for, business campuses.

    2. Establishing your expertise in, and selling a family of services and products for, "any business".

    You could substitute "houses of worship", "schools", "healthcare facilities", "high-rise residential communities", etc. for "business campuses" and probably come up with the same answer.

    New security business owners have great difficulty with this concept. They crave any and all business they can get, even if they know very well that they don't have the ability, the experience or the capability to serve it properly. Understandably, it's very hard to resist taking any business that walks in the door, but it might be the smart thing to do if you've decided that you're going to earn a reputation as the best in a particular segment, or perhaps a couple of related segments. Hospitals, clinics, and government facilities, for instance, might be a related set; clinics and factories, probably not so much.

    "We do security". If that's "who you are" - and I mean, TRULY are - that's very nice for you. I'm guessing you must be a fairly large company - and congratulations!

    The question for smaller companies is this: Do you "do security"? Apartment complex, industrial plant, executive protection, critical infrastructure, hospital, bank - it makes no difference, really? You might believe it, but I guarantee that your prospective clients don't. Perhaps a better strategy, considering the very strong market segmentation that exists in this industry, to consider the value of (1) establishing a reputation within a niche, (2) developing a set of related services and products that serve this niche, and (3) using these to serve fewer clients more profitably. As you grow, you can always add new market segments.

    The side benefit to this strategy is that it focuses your marketing efforts rather naturally, and very sharply, and that, in turn, makes marketing more do-able. There's a big difference between "trying to get some security business from whoever" and having a defined goal of being the company that nails down every event-related security opportunity within a radius of X miles.

    The second benefit, of course, is that the more you focus on a segment, the better you become at it, and the harder it is for anyone else to shove you aside. Word does get around. Reputation does matter, and it's worth many, many dollars of "marketing effort" you can spend if you're trying to get business without any particular reputation other than "I think I've seen their cars around town sometimes".

    "Inch-deep-mile-wide" might work for you, but the risk you run is that you're just going to be "one OF a million" little security companies, instead of being "one IN a million". You can't develop an identity when you look and act exactly like every other little piglet squealing and fighting for a place at the trough.
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 03-08-2012, 07:02 PM.
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  • #2
    in "the big city" or even sprawling suburbes, go niche.

    Figure out a better way to secure some niche market, with a couple toys and deep knowledge the other guy's presentation lacked.

    For instance, for Apts know and have all your guys know Rental and "Domestic Disturbance" law, and have them "culturally sensitive" to 'demographic' of residents in question, whether that is inner-city public housing or upscale gated retirement golf course. The right and wrong way to handle intra-tenant complaints in given group, etc.

    Maybe a better system to manage parking when spaces are scarce (haven't seen a good one yet, got any ideas?....I'm thinking ever resident gets issued a set number of one day Guest Passes for guests to leave on dash and once guard records that number that pass wont be good next day).

    For smaller towns try to be the "only game in town" and only company big enough to have 24hour operations and patrols.


    • #3
      Excellent post & dead on. I worked for a small company that specialized in hotel security, focusing on corporate and "4 star" sites. They prided themselves on smart, well trained and well groomed officers. They had less than 50 contracts, but all the guys knew each other, they trained on several sites, took pride in their work, etc. Until...

      They wanted to do PI work. They wanted to do executive protection. They wanted to do armed courier service. They hired people to do it and to do the training, without really researching how much business there would actually be and how much competition they already had.

      To cover the increasing costs, they had to go after more mundane business. Long story short, within 3 years they were a warm body company and they were out of business shortly thereafter.




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