I don't know about you, but I started my business because I wanted to do what I really loved. I wanted to do the kind of work that's important to me. But that's much easier said than done. With all the daily tasks that have to be done to keep a business going, it's easy to lose sight of what's important.
For me, this was the biggest thing I took away from the Watertight Marketing Conference this weekend.
The right clients
The first morning session got us all thinking about the kind of work that really lights our fire. Who are the customers that energise you AND feed your bottom line? Who are the clients that keep your business both mentally and financially healthy?
This is where we all need to focus our marketing time and effort. If we're not focusing on the right clients, we end up working for clients that, for whatever reason, just aren't quite the right fit. It's not always easy to know exactly what those ideal clients look like. I think there were many of us in the room for whom it had been a process of trial and error over the course of our business journeys.
The right work
Bryony got us all to map out our ideal clients and put strategies in place for the… er… less-than-ideal clients. For those passion projects that light our fire but perhaps don’t pay as well, like the pro bono work I do for not-for-profits and charities, we looked at ways to showcase the work and use it to get testimonials and PR. For the “cash cows” that are profitable but drain our energy, we talked about how to systemise or subcontract the work so that customers can still be serviced without taking up your resources.
Lucy Whittington at Connectably talked about ways to simplify and systemise processes. Streamlining workflows mean less time is spent on those tasks that distract you from what’s important.
Josef Elliott, MD at Oyster IMS, talked about the importance of continually working to improve their products and keep doing what you do well. Likewise Holly Brooks, co-founder of Audenza, described how they have worked on improving their customer service. She said, “We used to think good customer service was being nice and friendly, delivering on time and answering queries promptly. But every touchpoint contributes to good customer service.”
The right marketing
Focusing on the right clients and the right work sounds simple enough, but narrowing your focus like that takes confidence. When we’re not feeling completely confident, it’s tempting to look around and just copy what others are doing. They probably know what they’re doing, right? Unfortunately that road can often lead to marketing activities and messages that just don’t sit right with us. When talking about how Monkey Puzzle had achieved such impressive growth over the last 3 years, founder Karen Meager said, "Keep your marketing in line with your own values - even if it's not what everyone else is doing". Focus on what you need to do, without being distracted by competitors or peers.
My favourite slide of the conference was this: "Most people don't need yet more marketing ideas. They need fewer on which to truly focus."
"It takes a lot of effort to make your marketing look simple."
Ditch the distractions
So that was my key takeaway. Focus on what’s important: the right clients, the right work and the right marketing for my business.
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