April is Celebrate Diversity Month, which was started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us. It’s an annual reminder to take a look around and appreciate not just the differences in our skin tones, hair color, and cultures; but in our likes and dislikes, our passions, hobbies, career choices, and more. We make an effort to be open-minded to the diversity around us that we don’t have control over (like terrible background music or your co-worker’s fragrance choice), but what about the diversity that’s within our control, the choices we can make? Sometimes, we need to take a good look at diversifying our own lives and businesses. Just as it’s not healthy to eat the same foods all day every day, it’s not healthy for our business to have all of its eggs in one basket!

We’re living in a fast-paced society where clients expect instant gratification and relevance is oftentimes determined by technology. Ten years ago, a career in print advertising seemed to be as secure as any, but today, that print ad has more than likely been replaced by a social media post. And cell phones are replacing cameras in the same way the video killed the radio star in the ’80s. We need to diversify our markets, clients, products, and services before everything we’re comfortable with becomes uncomfortably irrelevant.

Diversify your market:

If the majority of your current marketing is geared towards the agricultural industry, and that industry gets hit with centennial flooding, there’s a good chance that budgets for promotional co-op pens and caps might come to a screeching halt. You might want to mix it up a little bit and market to industries outside of your comfort zone. What’s trending and relevant? Try marketing to “green” companies or techies. Or companies that deliver boxes of beautifully packaged products to doorsteps of busy Americans on the regular.

Diversify your clients:

Not only is it important to diversify your clients by industry, but also by geography and size. It’s not uncommon for an entire community to suffer the effects of a natural disaster or the closing of one large company. Don’t keep all of your business in one zip code, there’s a whole world out there! It’s equally important to have clients at both big and small businesses. Big businesses might have big orders but if that big business has bad publicity, it could easily translate to big losses. Keep a good balance of large and small businesses on your books. Those small business owners are known to share business cards with other consumers, and they just might become a big business one day!

Diversify your products:

Always being aware of the “next best thing” is crucial. Don’t keep selling more of the same just because it’s easier. Research can shut a product down with one press release. What’s safe to drink out of one day, might be deemed hazardous to our health the next. It’s okay to continue selling products that your customers like and want, but always have new and fresh ideas in your back pocket that you can present to them as needed, and be educated on those products.

Diversify your services:

We must be open-minded to changing our services as our customers change their wants and needs. You might look forward to quarterly phone calls and hand delivering that seasonal catalog to your best customers every spring, but you also need to be open to the idea of online shopping, email campaigns, and social media blasts. Traditional (old school) selling is very personal, it’s also what was expected and made sales for many decades, but don’t be so old school that you seem dated to your clients. Let it be known that you are also internet savvy and capable of diversifying your methods of service to fit their needs.

Let all of those cute springtime baskets of pastel eggs be a friendly reminder to be open to change, expand your horizon, and diversify!

Blog post by Sommer Kibbee
Strategic Communications Specialist, The Vernon Company