Diversify or Specialize: You Can’t Do Both – Right?


“Austin is a smaller version of New York city.”

This is what a friend of mine (from New York) told me once. I’ve heard that Austin and Seattle are similar in personalities, but I hadn’t heard it being anything like New York before.

Granted, I have not yet been to New York.  Still, I’m not sure that I can agree with her.  And certainly, it would probably be best for her to never repeat that to a native Texan who didn’t already love her. In fact, I’m not sure a native New Yorker would appreciate the comparison.

Still, if you stop and think about it, both cities are incredibly diverse in culture. Pretty much every kind of food, every kind of belief system, every kind of hobby can be found in both places. I never think about Austin’s unique nature much until I travel to other areas and suddenly realize that wait – something’s missing. Or when a friend comes to visit and comments on it.

Oddly, my friend’s comment got me thinking about competitive marketing in the Austin area.

Austin is a colorful and amazing city with a lot of talent to offer. And all of the surrounding cities take on a similar general personality. We’re laid back and friendly here.  We don’t take anything too seriously, except our food and our friendships.  And our social demographic is influenced by the fact that Austin/Round Rock is considered one of the most educated cities in the US.

There are so many diverse and interesting things that can be marketed or written about here. I figure working for Austin Monthly magazine must be a great job as a writer. Surely fun and rarely boring.

But then I was thinking about niche businesses. How marketing (and writing) changes when you specialize instead of diversify.

Austin’s happenings and culture seem like bountiful writing resources, where there’s a plethora of colorful possibilities – pretty astounding. There’s so much texture and color to explore here, all unified by the fact that is all quirky Austin.

But if I were to try to switch things up, and dedicate a specialized magazine to say – crochet in Austin – suddenly there is no diversification. Because in spite of our colorful and rich stories, Austin is still essentially a small town community.  We don’t have the kind of population you see in other cities.  Which also means that the amount of crocheters in Austin is pretty small. And hard to find. Or a least, when you need a substantial support system to justify such an endeavor.

That got me thinking.  That in marketing you can be specialized, or you can be diversified, but it’s near impossible to be both.

Unless perhaps if you walk the fine tight rope of specializing in being diverse.

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3 Comments

Filed under Business, NaBloPoMo, Random Thoughts

3 responses to “Diversify or Specialize: You Can’t Do Both – Right?

  1. Oh, I hope I wasn’t the one who made that comment about Austin being like NY! It’s definitely Texan, however, Austin is very progressive and liberal, and metropolitan. I haven’t been to Houston or Dallas, but I’d speculate those cities are metropolitan at least–meaning there’s a diverse culture, and has its own art scene and food scene. But I’d say politically Austin is probably more like NY than other Texan cities.

    Now about the marketing aspect of your blog post–I think marketing gets very limited when one specializes rather than diversifies. Which can be a good thing and a bad thing, depending on your perspective.

    For instance, Cheesecake Factory. Look at that menu! It’s like an encyclopedia! My god. TOO MANY CHOICES. They are TOO diverse. For this and several other reasons, I haven’t gone there in YEARS. A counterpoint to Cheesecake Factory would be a smaller restaurant that is known for a specific thing–like a Poke E Joes for instance! You go there for good barbeque. I’d much rather go THERE than to CF, as I’m generally desiring something specific. Now CF and Poke E Joes both have their good points, but I’d opt for the latter of the two, because the experience is radically different.

    Also, still using the CF as my analogy, so many places like this wants to have such broad appeal they OFFER ALL THE FOODS!!!, yet, is anything they make TRULY REMARKABLE AND CONSISTENTLY FANTASTIC? My experience has proven the answer to that is a resounding NO. It’s like being a Jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. I’d rather go to the master. The quality is better, usually more personal, and will ensure repeat customers.

    Just my two cents!

    This also applies to yarn stores. Shit. I should have used Michaels vs LYS as my analogy. But whatevs. I’m craving BBQ now. I hope you’re satisfied! 🙂

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