I get a lot of questions from small business owners who have two major problems or two services that they solve in one business. I'm not really sure why this is so prevalent – but I have a feeling that it might have to do with the reluctance that a lot of small business owners feel when it comes down to paring down their services or target audiences to a single item.

I know I'm extra-guilty of this – I've been advised to just offer logo design, marketing material design or website design – not all three. But I can't bear the thought of limiting myself to just one area – I think the three are so intertwined that they all need to be addressed together. Since they're so intertwined, it's easy to talk about them together.

But, what if the two things you do aren't actually directly related?

If you're trying to market two seemingly separate services or products, then it might be tempting to separate them out and create two companies – one to promote service A and another to promote service B. But, along with two companies comes marketing twice – that means two logos, two business cards (and wondering which one to hand out to get the most out of your networking events!) , two websites (and maintaining and updating two websites), and two newsletter lists to keep in touch with your clients. 

Two newsletter lists means at least two articles per month, and two mailing lists, two newsletter template designs, and formatting two newsletters in your email program. Then you have to add the articles to your website. That winds up being a lot of work every month – and that's just if you're putting each newsletter out once monthly.

How to avoid this extra work

Instead of separating your two (or three) services out into different companies, or even separating your lists within one company, then work on finding out what your services all have in common. After all, you're offering both services or products, so they must have a common skill, interest or problem that they each solve, right?  

I call this exercise "finding the thread". Take a piece of paper and write down your different services, and then draw some lines connecting them all. These lines are your thread – the single connecting factor between all of the things that you do for your clients. 

Try to keep the thread simple – you don't want the connection to be too oblique or to not make sense to your clients. 

The thread is often something that comes as second-nature to you – you just think that this thread is so important that you may do it without noticing. So, asking some of your clients to help you connect the dots, or asking a friend or spouse, may help you identify the thread more easily.

Once you have found the thread

Then, use that thread as the basis for all of your marketing materials. Instead of focusing your home page copy on your services, focus on the thread, or the problem that your clients are facing that can be mended with the thread you offer. Build your logo around the thread (which is also often what makes you different from your competition – your competitors probably don't have this same thread holding their services together). Write the articles in your newsletter with an emphasis on the thread instead of just writing about the services you offer. And, sew everything you do together by always concentrating on this thread.

If you focus on finding and talking about the thread that hold all of your offerings together, then you won't have to separate them out into different businesses – you'll be able to make everything you do make sense for your clients all in one package. And, you won't have to do all of that extra marketing work.