Alert the media. A technology company announced it was getting out of the sock business.
The $85-a-set sock business.
At what point did an online, cloud-based, synced-up, billion-dollar funded, digital note-taking, and internet clipping tool company decide that this was a great addition to their services? SaaS does not mean “socks as a service.”
What off-the-rails, footwear-obsessed hack in their marketing department even suggested it? How did it get past their VP? And what CEO approved that nonsense? They were selling Post-It notes too, for crying out loud!
Marketing hack: “Let’s sell Post-it Notes too!”
CEO: “That’s great! Let’s sell them with a $50 plastic tray that’s designed by someone we think is cool.”
Marketing hack: “And we won’t even put our logo on it. That’s how cool we are!”
Inch Wide and a Mile Deep
I didn’t know this tech company was even popular enough to need this kind of stuff. When you’re Apple, or Harley-Davidson, or Coca Cola, then you create and sell things like t-shirts and socks with your logo on it. These are “lifestyle brands.” People will pay to wear your logo.
You only get there by staking out a one-inch-wide brand, building a culture, and going a mile deep to sell big phones, small phones, gold phones (gold is best), and thin phones. You sell big loud motorcycles, low loud motorcycles, and sporty loud motorcycles.
Any other bits and pieces are designed to support the main products that you’re selling. If those bits and pieces start to take over or take away from your core business, time to carve them off. If you don’t have a process in place to regularly evaluate your product or service offering, you, too, could be selling $85 socks.
Deep into the Matrix
My core business is building, maintaining, and supporting networks for businesses:
- Business computer networks in the form of the servers, data, and desktops that are used to support the daily operations of a company.
- Digital networks in the form of the websites (and the servers they reside on) that are used to represent a business on the Internet
- The digital phone network in the form of VoIP (Voice over IP) phones that are used to let a business team communicate with each other and outside callers.
When paired with strong network security and ongoing server maintenance, it’s a powerful and secure way to protect your site from being taken over by spam bots.
I’m not in the hosting business, though. I don’t just “host” websites. Why?
Bits and Pieces are Expensive
When you start selling little bits and pieces of services here and there, you:
- Spend a lot of time trying to coordinate with the other service providers of the other bits and pieces.
- Find that outside vendors keep messing your stuff up. For example, you won’t have a good VOIP experience with us or any other VOIP provider if your internet service is bad.
- Lose economy of scale when you are serving stand-alone, unconnected products and services.
- Become generalists and not specialists.
If you start selling things just because someone is buying it, the next thing you know you’re a tech company selling socks.
How many entrepreneurs have gone off the rails because people told them they should start selling dog food “because there’s lots of dogs out there and they need food.”
Just Fix the Symptoms
“I don’t need I.T. management. Can’t you just fix this one problem?”
No. We can’t. We won’t.
Not that we can’t fix the problem, but that’s not your problem. It’s a whole host of problems. Your printer not printing is a symptom. Slow computers are a symptom. We know there’s something bigger going on when you have a lot of these little problems. We’re not going to fix that one thing and let the rest of the system rot.
It’s like going to the doctor with a terrible cough and he gives you a bunch of hankies to cover your mouth. Did he ask if you’re fatigued? Check your heart? Listen to your lungs?
You always look deeper into the problem before you “fix that one thing.” Maybe your server is failing. The doctor doesn’t give a pneumonia patient a cough drop – they get checked into the hospital. To do anything less would be irresponsible.
And yet, we’re asked to do this all the time. Fix the symptoms, not the core problems.
Working with “computer repair guys” who are willing to say yes because they are trained to fix surface problems has trained a whole generation of business owners to think about symptoms.
They’ll look at you like you’re putting one over on them when you want to manage the whole network. But to do anything less than care for the whole system would be irresponsible.
Everything is probably not okay because that one desktop computer can run that one program now. They just keep plugging along with the broken system until the whole thing literally fails.
No Socks, No Dog Food, No Quick Fixes
You don’t want us to sell footwear, pet care, or emergency repair. You want us to be very, very good at doing what we do which is supporting the core technologies that make a modern business competitive and proficient.
Selling just hosting, or just email, or fixing printer network issues is going to distract us from our ability to support what I call the Technology Trifecta.
- Developing a network management and technology strategy that keeps you competitive and dominant.
- Designing and developing websites that support your ongoing digital identity.
- Creating and maintaining a modern VoIP phone system that makes your business sound like a Fortune 500 enterprise.
How did I determine that these were to be the core of my business? Because I had a process in place to evaluate what to add… and what to leave to the experts in fashion.
Buy your socks at WalMart and get your technology advice and support from us. Oh yeah, didn’t you hear? WalMart offers that now too.