It's a familiar struggle for small businesses, trying to juggle 'focus' and 'diversification.' My neighborhood bookstore the Book Inn has succeeded in thinking bifocal by having its own cafÃ© and travel agency, both inside the bookshop. Not only does this make the Book Inn more distinctive, but by offering more than one service, it's also more recession-friendly. Here are five ways the Book Inn is thinking bifocal:
- Be distinctive. Making yourself stand out from the competition by adding a quirky sideline increases your attractiveness to customers. People will remember an unusual or distinctive proposition, and it will draw them to you accordingly.
- Think laterally. The Book Inn sells travel books, so adding a travel agency makes sense. Putting the agency desk next to the travel books is an even smarter move, both in using floor space and in generating new revenues.
- Focus on the core offering. The Book Inn is primarily a book store, that's what the brand name says and that's what the windows display. Whatever their diversifications, they won't forget their core business.
- Diversify to add value for existing customers. The cafÃ© provides an additional service to current customers, allowing them to browse and relax.
- Use magnets to attract new customers. The travel agency is a smart idea, as -- like the cafÃ© -- it attracts people who might not already be customers. After they've made their travel arrangements, they may just peruse the nearby travel books. The sideline businesses act as magnets for the core business.