Your Target

A lot of firms struggle with choosing a market sector in which to focus their marketing efforts. To build your brand, you need to identify the type of work you seek. This declaration should be formalized in a strategic plan. But don’t let this scare you. Strategic planning has a reputation for being difficult, complicated and time consuming. Typically the process begins with a SWOT analysis looking at your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Here is a simplified version focusing on your strengths.I recently had an opportunity to see Chip Heath speak about his new book Switch. Chip, along with his brother Dan, also wrote the fantastic Made To Stick. In Switch, they introduce a concept called “Find the Bright Spots.” Bright spots, as applied to your marketing, are successful efforts that you’ve already been doing, and simply repeating them.

Create Your Top 10
First, make a list of the top 10 projects you’ve ever worked on. Yes, I know “top” is ambiguous and purposely so. To be meaningful, YOU need to define top. Top could mean revenue, creativity, great people, fun, social good, publicity or some combination thereof. Whatever your definition of top is, it must embody the type of projects that you’d love to work on next. Marketing is all about the work that you seek.

Discover What’s Working
Next, create a grid with your top 10 projects listed down the left side. Across the top, list the following questions to ask about each project:
How did this client learn about your firm?
Why were you hired? What other reasons did they hire you?
Type of project by service?
Type of client by vertical market (biotech or tourism for example)?
What time of year were you hired?
Any professional affiliations of the key decision makers?
Gender and age of the key decision makers?
You should be asking these important questions each time you get hired (and not hired). There is no expiration date on asking. Don’t assume why you get hired and then go out and repeat the wrong the things.

Let The Patterns Define Your Strategy
As you can imagine, you are looking for patterns to emerge in the grid you’ve created above. If you notice a large percentage of projects in a certain vertical market, this defines your niche. A certain service that shows up frequently can further define your speciality. If you see a pattern of why you get hired, then this becomes the positioning for your next ad campaign, tagline and website messaging. The goal is to market “with the flow” of what you are already doing well.

I know there are bright spots in your marketing or you wouldn’t be in business. Don’t focus on the problems. Yes, there is something innately satisfying about figuring out what’s broken and then fixing it. But if you focus on what is working, the “bright spots,” this path of least resistance will bring you successwith greater ease.

What Do You Think?
What insights did gain from creating your Top 10 list?
Are there other areas of your business that you can leverage what is already working?
How could you apply these principles to your life?

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