All great marketing starts with WHO, not WHAT.
If you’re a “what” marketer, you inevitably end up with a solution looking for a problem. I have a few cautionary tales of my own to tell, but since I didn’t plan on writing a novel today, I’ll do you the courtesy of skipping those.
Only when you start with a “who” do you have advantages like:
- Solving a specific problem somebody already has
- Distancing yourself from other service providers who “do the same thing you do”
- Building offers that are VERY specific to a certain group of people
- Commanding higher prices than most others offering services like yours
- and more
It’s hard to do any of those things without clarity around a WHO that your business primarily services. Can you serve other people too? Of course! But you’re marketing dollars and/or energy will be far less effective.
Trust me. Do not go down the generalist road, at least not in the beginning. It’s hard to make your way like that.
Two of my students recently found themselves within the grubby grips of another “web design influencer” (for lack of a better term).
In full disclosure, I like this other person, have had personal conversations with them, and we even have quite a bit in common.
But there’s one problem:
The solution they sell web designers is a cookie-cutter set of activities that do not honor the reality of target markets. In their program, every customer is a customer who needs your widget. And your widget is a conglomerate of services that essentially turns you into a marketing agency instead of a web designer. (I think we’ll call them Marketing Marvin from now on, as a stand-in for anyone who thinks you HAVE to build a marketing agency as a web designer.)
Now, nothing wrong with becoming a marketing agency.
Unless you don’t want to and/or your market doesn’t need that from you!
Then, it’s a problem.
A better way?
Come up with a few packages that incorporate only the services your WHO actually needs, and offer those!
Way less to learn.
A more specific deliverable.
And a simpler menu of services (and simple is almost always better).
Here’s how we fixed this for one of my students recently:
She, after an interaction with Marketing Marvin, had a website FULL of stuff that she (by her OWN admission!) didn’t even want to do. Not only that, her target customer really didn’t even need all of it!
So we came up with a far simpler (and far more impactful) set of service packages:
- Package 1 would be a simple website.
- Package 2 would be the website and would include email capture and a 5-email followup sequence, as well as evergreen blog content
- Package 3 would include all of the above and also integrate a client booking system into the website so customers could focus on client acquisition as well
Simple. It addresses the needs of her customers. It shows she is intelligent and in tune with what her customers need. It’s not an à la carte menu of services that she may or may not even be good at or want the headache of managing.
Targeted. Specific. Intentional.
On YOUR side of this, it’s important to remember why you got into this business.
If it was to create a lifestyle of freedom and fewer headaches, offering a suite of marketing services is not the way to do that, for a number of reasons beyond what I have space to share here.
You do you, but I didn’t get into business to hate my days.
Not every day in business is rosy. Lots aren’t.
But you have control over most of that. If you wanna build a marketing agency, please do! I mean, I did — LOL. But I’ve built a team and we work together to accomplish goals for our clients. And it’s taken a long time to get here (and we still have a long way to go).
If you want me to help you design your business model, here’s the link to make it happen:
I live for days like yesterday.
I got almost nothing done.
I was on the phone most of the day. I had to take kids to school, pick them up, then take them back for basketball practice.
While there, I was at least able to check my email.
I did a little bit of writing in the morning and had a great call with one of our newest members. But that’s all I had to show for a 9-hour day of work.
And I’m not mad about it. No, I’m grateful for it.
Because days like yesterday weren’t possible before building a business that allows me lifestyle freedom.
Days like yesterday weren’t possible when I was cooped up in a cubicle doing work I hated for 8 hours a day with an hour long commute each way.
Days like yesterday weren’t possible when somebody ELSE got to dictate what my days were like.
Most days are quite productive and I get a lot done.
And it’s ok, because it is the kind of day I always wished I could have. Why should I be frustrated now?
They don’t come often—and that’s probably a good thing.
But five years ago, I would have given anything for a day like yesterday.
I live for days like yesterday.
Let me help you create some yesterdays:
In life and in business, there are many paths to success.
It doesn’t look the same for everyone, that’s for sure.
One of my strengths in business is in the area of seeing opportunities where others don’t and then executing (usually QUICKLY) on those ideas. Inspiration doesn’t wait around for you to act; it requires fast movement. As one of my favorite writers, Jason Fried, says:
Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.
Sometimes inspiration comes in the form of creative expression.
You may know that feeling well.
But not everyone is like that.
For me, inspiration comes in the form of big ideas. Sometimes I see the inspiration as a flash in the pan and I don’t pick it up. Sometimes I see something larger. An opportunity to further in a situation that the original request.
A real life example:
We began working with a new client recently who found us through my YouTube channel. (Gotta get on YouTube, y’all.) She does live training in a professional services niche and has a site of her own where she sells classes.
So the other day, I got an email from her.
She forwarded me an email from a “competitor” who packages up his training and sells prerecorded training classes inside a white-labeled membership environment.
My eyes open widely. My nose twitches. My ears perk up.
Inspiration? Is that you?
Immediately in that moment, most people think: “Oh cool, yeah, she can pay me for these websites and sell them to people. That will be a lot of business!”
And that’s an okay thought.
An arguably better thought?
“Ah, we can work on this together. She can be the face of this and market and sell it, and we can build and manage the sites on the back end. A joint venture.”
There are obvious cons to a partnership agreement. I respect those. But there are lots of pros in this scenario too.
I don’t have to “sell” her on this. I don’t have to try and trim costs so she can be more profitable. I can rely on her expertise in the industry to charge what will probably be a higher amount than I normally would and make more money from the deal.
This is an opportunity to create a relationship that automatically funnels clients to me without having to do the work of marketing, in a specific niche (related to the broader niche of membership and learning sites) that I would have never gone into!
Just this morning I had a call with a logo and branding designer who goes to church with me.
He’s having more and more people interested in websites and wanted advice.
So I gave it to him.
Then I said, “But also — and you can say no if you want — but we’d be interested in partnering up on a project-by-project basis if you are. For example, you could do the design mockup in Figma and we could build and maintain the site since you don’t want to. Or, you could pass them off to us entirely and we’ll happily compensate you for the referral?”
Always be looking for deals.
Sure, you could “grind” it out and do lots of marketing for yourself.
Or, you could leverage strategic relationships and find other people to send you customers.
Really, you can and should do both!
Now, who knows when and if this situation will come up for you. It may not for a while.
The point is to be looking in the daily ebb and flow of business.
There are deals, partnerships, relationships, mentorships, and more all around you.
If you look hard enough.
And speaking of mentorships: I know of one that will help you design a recurring revenue business to help get 2024 started off on the right foot.
Here’s where to join:
Many of you know I’m a voracious reader. I never like to pretend I have all the answers. I’d much rather give credit where it’s due so that you can have some of the same “aha’s” and epiphanies that I’ve had.
I present another for your consideration today.
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a sales conversation or business negotiation and thought, “I don’t have a CLUE what I’m doing?”
If so—you’re not alone. Not only are you not alone, but that’s also a good first step. It means you are self aware in a way many are not.
(I’ve met plenty who think they’re the bee’s knees and don’t even know how to measure or evaluate these conversations objectively.)
In any sales call or negotiation, we tend to be very self-centered. We’re thinking things like:
- How do I get them to say yes?
- How do I get what I want out of the deal?
- I have a lot riding on this.
- I hope they’re impressed with me.
- I hope they see the value in my services.
- I hope they pay the price I want.
In his book Start With No, the late negotiation expert Jim Camp suggests that the problem with all of these attitudes is they’re focused on getting a prospect to say yes.
Instead, he opines, we should get to “no” as soon as possible.
Only when a “no” is decided has a real decision been made that can now be negotiated.
This book is full of counterintuitive advice, and I’ve already read through most of it twice.
It’s helped me already in real life conversations. I’m working on negotiating a pretty big deal for my agency right now that could lead to tens of thousands in recurring revenue over the next few years. I wouldn’t have had NEAR the confidence to begin these negotiations without having read this book.
I also plan to do something I don’t usually do with this one:
Not read another book like it for a long time — if ever.
There’s obviously a lot of value in looking at a problem or project from multiple angles.
And I like to read diverse opinions.
But Jim’s system is just that—a system where each of the pieces works together.
And it’s so focused on the other party (what he refers to as your “adversary” for lack of a better word) and living in their world for the negotiation, that it just feels right.
I plan to hone the skills I’ve learned from this book in every business (and life!) negotiation from this point forward, and introducing (potentially) conflicting information could impede that process. Again, not something I normally do, but it is useful at times when you are trying to focus.
There’s research mode. Then there’s implementation mode.
This book is heavy in “implementation” mode for me. Not questioning—just performing.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned from this book:
- Why getting a person to tell you know is INFINITELY more valuable than a “yes” or—especially—the dreaded “maybe”
- How to control the conversation while making the adversary feel great the entire time (and feel as though THEY are actually in control)
- The one type of question to ask that keeps conversations moving forward instead of getting stopped up on useless information
- Why you should stop talking
- The 5-point agenda for EVERY conversation that will ensure you’re always focused on the right things
- How to control the one thing that gives you fear and anxiety in most negotiations
- The practice to do before EVERY negotiation that will absolutely ensure that it never goes off the rails and puts you in an uncomfortable position
And to be honest, a LOT more. Like, way more.
You should read this book.
If you’d like to grab it from Amazon, I would be more than grateful if you’d consider using my affiliate link. Might get me a steak when my 72 hour fast is up 🙂
Here’s the link:
I often use my podcast as a way to test and think about new ideas.
For a while now, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the differences between certain kinds of business owners. I see these differences in web designers too, and like most things, I feel like if we can put our finger on this and identify it, we can be intentional (instead of accidental) about it.
In the episode, I talk through three “web design identities” that I’ve seen out there. If you’ve seen others, would love to hear from you!
But I think these three capture a pretty broad spectrum.
Are you a Worker, Scaler, or Dealer?
Watch this episode to find out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2MQbyq6xr8&pp=ygUNc3RldmUgc2NocmFtbQ%3D%3D