Topics: Branding And Positioning

The Secret of Life: "Everything Else Don't Mean Sh*t"

Picture of Chris Heiler Author: Chris Heiler

In 1994, a still young Saturn Corporation reached their high watermark ranking #2 in the small car market. Saturn sold more cars per dealer (960) in 1994 than any other brand, including Toyota and Ford.

Saturn reached the top by offering a single series--the S-series. Two doors or four doors was pretty much the only decision a buyer needed to make.

Focusing on "just one thing" took Saturn to the top.

Beginning in the early 2000's, Saturn lost focus. They forgot that "everything else don't mean sh*t".

Saturn expanded their line to include sport utility vehicles and sports cars as well as models in all price ranges. The result? They dropped from #1 to #6 in cars sold per dealer in 2006 with only 520.

Saturn tried to be all things to all people.

General Motors is set to pull the plug on Saturn later this year.

Battle of the colas

"I'd rather have all my eggs in one basket and spend my time worrying about whether that's the right basket, than try to put one egg in every basket."Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel

The most successful companies, whether in corporate America or in the Green Industry, share an intense focus. They discover the one thing they can be the absolute best at and then focus the entire company behind that single effort.

Who is Coca Cola? Coca Cola is a "beverage" company.

Who is PepsiCo? From their corporate website:


"From beverages to snacks, we offer consumers a broad range of product choices from simple treats to healthy eats."

Clever, but unfocused.

With the Frito Lay and Quaker brands under their corporate umbrella, what is PepsiCo trying to be? Are they a "beverage" company? Are they a "snack food" company? A "health food" company?

Which is the more successful company? Coca Cola--the more focused company.

Coca Cola knows beverages, "everything else don't mean sh*t".

How Fountainhead Gardens lost its way

As a small landscape design/build firm in west Michigan, Fountainhead Gardens quickly built a strong reputation by focusing on designing gardens for homes built in the late 19th and early 20th century. If a homeowner wanted their landscape to reflect the architecture and period of their unique home,Fountainhead Gardens was the company of choice.

In 2007, after four years of consistent growth, Fountainhead Gardens spun off a new company which sold upscale outdoor furnishings to homeowners and other design professionals. The new company was called On the Terrace.

What was the result?

Fountainhead Gardens lost its momentum and On the Terrace never got traction.

As many of you know, Fountainhead Gardens is my company. I lost focus.

While I was building a strong reputation in my niche, I lost my focus as a "design" company by attempting to also become an "outdoor furnishings" company.

In retrospect, I should have maintained focus on "just one thing"--landscape design. I needed someone to remind me that "everything else don't mean sh*t".

Ask yourself this: What is your one thing that you can be the best at?

That's what you've got to figure out. Then give it your 100% focus.

Picture of Chris Heiler

About Chris Heiler

Chris is the founder and CEO of Landscape Leadership. He has been in the green industry for over 20 years. Aside from leading the team at Landscape Leadership he enjoys speaking at green industry events across the country sharing his insights on marketing and sales. Chris now lives in Austin, TX, a transplant from the midwest and the great state of Michigan.

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