I get a lot of questions from small business owners who have two major problems they solve or two services they offer 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 to paring down their services or target audiences.

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. Because 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 products or services, then it might be tempting to separate them 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 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, two mailing lists, two newsletter template designs and the need to format two newsletters in your email program. Then you need to add the articles to your website. That winds up being a lot of work—and that’s just if you’re putting each newsletter out once a month.


How to avoid this extra work


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


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


Try to keep the thread simple—you don’t want the connection to be too obscure or not to make sense to your clients.


The thread is often something that comes as second nature to you. You 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…


Use it as the basis of all of your marketing materials. Instead of focusing your home page copy on your services, focus on 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 holds all of your offerings together, then you won’t have to separate them into different businesses. You’ll be able to make everything you do make sense for your clients in one package. And, you won’t have to do all of that extra marketing work.