Journal 6: I repositioned my business again
I am repositioning my business again, but this time only partially. To be more precise, the repositioning is restricted to a geographic area.
Here are the reasons.
Adapting to local naming conventions
Typical business names1 in my local area are Müller Trockenbau, Bäckerei Holzapfel, Foto Angela, Tischlerei Sommer, Kaufhaus Reisinger and Holzer Installationstechnik.
Do you see the pattern? The owner's name is always followed (or preceded) by what they offer. "Möstl" is my name, and "IT" is what I'm doing.
Yes, IT is a broad term, and technically-versed people understand it as administrating computer systems and networks. And that's not what I do. I offer custom software development.
So would "Möstl Software" have been a better name?
I don't think so. Here is why.
I believe that "software" as a term already creates some discomfort for most business people in my local area because they barely deal with software people. And most people are afraid of things they don't know. However, they all have an IT company ("EDV Betreuer") caring for their computers, networks, etc.
This is why I chose "IT" to be in the new name – it is a known concept in their brains. In other words, my position relates to a concept already anchored in their minds. This is a good thing from a marketing perspective2.
The tagline "Software nach Maß" helps diversify me from the mentioned IT admin stuff.
Sharpening personal identity
Speaking of the tagline, it actually came from an old buddy. I met him last summer at the fishing pond near our house. We hadn't seen each other for quite some years, but he knew I was self-employed. In the conversation, he wanted to know what I was doing as a self-employed software developer. So I was giving examples and so on. Finally, he nicely concluded that I do "Software nach Maß". At that moment, I knew I wanted to use it as my new tagline.
This ties in closely to what I've felt the last couple of years: I lack a clear personal identity in my social circle.
Most people are known for one particular thing. My wife is known to be the hairdresser. Someone else is known to be the hunter. Another person is known to be the electrician you call when your central heating has broken down.
In contrast, I lack a clear identity. I don't want people in my social circle to wonder: "What is he actually doing?"
I want to go a bit deeper.
We came to Passail thirteen years ago. I have been self-employed since 2016 and have worked from home 99.9 % of the time. When chatting with neighbors, acquaintances, and even friends, I can feel their fear of asking what I do for a living. They know it's something with computers, and that is something which still frightens many people. Adding to that, someone working from home all the time looks strange to them.
In longer conversations, sometimes a brave one asks: "What do you do exactly?" And then I tell them – more or less successfully – about my work. Most of the time, their eyes reveal they still don't get it. Sure, there's plenty to improve on how I explain it. In fact, I can't remember any other time, except for the one at the fishing pond, when the other person really tried to understand what I was doing.
By using the words of this one person who did, I want to paint a clearer picture of myself upfront.
There are certainly some consequences in terms of getting the word out. I will mount a new company sign and possibly run some ads in local newspapers. I've plenty of other ideas.
- 1 I changed the names so that this post won't appear in Google search results if someone searches for the respective companies.
- 2 Chapter 2 in "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind" by Al Ries