The Power of “Focus”

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I just finished co-chairing (with the truly amazing Ruby Newell-Legner) a major conference for my professional organization, the National Speakers Association (NSA). By all accounts, it was a huge success (which translates, of course, into huge relief for me!). In the three days since the event ended, I’ve spent some time trying to discern what it was that made the conference so successful.

Yes, we had some truly great speakers and presenters. Yes, the format flowed well and was easy to navigate. Yes, the food was good. But you and I have both been to events that had all these elements—and more—and yet they didn’t quite click. So what was it that set this conference apart?

I think it comes down to one word:


Our conference had a single, laser-like focus, and everything else emanated from that. In our case, the focus was “Monetize Your Message.” Yes, that was also our theme, but theme and focus are different. Lots of events have a theme, but no focus. Themes like “It’s a Great New Day,” and “Working Together” are positive and make you feel good, but they don’t tell you what the meeting is about. What Ruby and I did was begin with a crystal-clear focus, and then build the conference to support that specific focus.

It’s the same in your business. Do you have a focus, or just a theme? A focus gives you clarity on who you are and what you do. It means you’ve made a decision. See, a focus is, by definition, exclusionary. It means you stand for something, and that you’re not trying to be all things to all people. You’re not going to get all the customers, or float everybody’s boat—and you’re okay with that. In fact, you’re great with that!

When you have a true focus, you attract your ideal customer automatically.

Ruby and I knew that we wouldn’t draw the entire NSA membership to our conference. Not everybody is at the same level in their careers, and not everybody has the same interests at the same time. But for those whom our focus resonated, the program was like catnip. For those members for whom our focus was also their focus, they couldn’t not be there!

And isn’t that what you’d like for your business? To have a targeted universe of customers who are so locked in to who you are and what you do—who share your focus with a fervor and a passion—that they can’t not do business with you?

When you are clear on your focus, and when every communication that comes from you (your advertising, promotional pieces, e-mail signature, voicemail message, web site, etc.) exemplifies that focus, your people—your tribe—will find you.

So what’s your focus? Your one, single focus? (None of this, “Well, I actually have seven focuses (foci?), the first of which has eleven parts…”) If you can’t answer that question immediately, I suggest you book a strategic planning session with yourself, a pen, and a tablet of paper.

Make a decision. Choose a focus. And enjoy your huge success.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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