What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…
It seems like we’ve been going around and around on this since we started.
Correction. We havebeen going around and around on this since we started.
Here’s a bit of pre-amble before I get on to this topic about a development from last month.
I’m happily partnered with an oil and gas consultancy based in London who see that great projects need effective people. They are happy to explore diversification into this area with Mirror Mirror. It’s so nice to have that collaboration going on. It’s like dating for ages after being single!
Anyway, we’re now talking to a couple of big companies, connecting Mirror Mirror to their business needs (and budgets), namely Quality and HSE. Both are a priority, and both relate to communication, behaviours and shared cognition.
Specifically, on Quality, ISO 9001is a standard that certifies companies for quality. The latest update includes these components:
“Improve Engagement of PeopleThe new standard clearly states the need for all people to be competent, empowered, and engaged in delivering value. Organizations are expected to enhance employee communication, provide better clarity on job expectations, ﬁnd ways to motivate employees to contribute to organizational success, capture regular feedback, and facilitate a dialog with supervisors to help employees achieve their growth plan.”
“Enhance Leadership Involvement: Unlike the earlier ISO 9001 standard, the revised version emphasizes leadership involvement in quality management. The leadership team is expected to be highly committed to strengthening the outcome of the quality management program. They need to ensure that every business unit within the organization understands and accepts the changes brought about by the new standard to ensure a unified commitment to quality.”
Mirror Mirror fits completely – what a great angle! If we win some work there, we can start talking to other people in Quality – and they would be our targets. And we are only able to think along these lines now that we have real conversations with potential clients happening around them.
Now back to targeting.
A contact of mine once said that targeting is like folding a sheet of A4 paper. Write out who you think your product / service is aimed at, starting with the whole world. Fold the paper in half. Write out the sentence again but be more specific. Fold again. Repeat until the paper is tiny.
The theory is that if you have razor sharp targeting, your can direct your marketing activities there and will be more likely to get a response.
This is how my first attempt looked about a year ago:
|1. The whole world
|2. Teams in organizations
|3. Who want to improve performance / implementation
|4. And are forward thinking / open to new ideas
|5. And going through change
|6. Who speak English as a working language
|7. And are based in Western Europe
|8. And want more help with the people side
My contact told me that was still WAY too general. I can see that now. That’s a very big target group. But I was stuck. And I felt bad about that, because if he’s right, my inability to target was blocking the progress of my precious business.
A stubborn question kept me from moving forward: how do you hone a target for your sales efforts when your means to new business only comes from networking, which in itself is quite random?
And then I met Patricia. A marketing freelancer, who within one hour taught me that HOW you market is the difference between success and failure. She said if you market on a relationship-led basis, you can’t help but target because there are only so many relationships you can develop at once.
I explained my activities: I was networking, doing social media work, some conferences and articles. “Yes”, she said. “I’m sure that’s right, but let’s look at HOW you are doing that.”
On a small budget, online networking – from a relationship development perspective – would look like inviting 1-1 connections on LinkedIn. Perhaps contacting them once a week, with very short notes, links to things they might find interesting. Not selling, just being kind. And then eventually asking if they’d like to meet.
And the next area – social media work. Yes great. But, as Patricia explained, let’s look at HOW I’m using these. Twitter isn’t what it was 5 years ago. It’s not so effective. LinkedIn is my channel.
Write articles, post, recycle, share the links with those NEW relationships that I’m building. Get profile at conferences that link up. Test different content, see what gets the most clicks.
Towards the end, Patricia commented that it was good to meet with me in person because then she can understand how I think. She said I’m a structured person.
Very structured. I know this.
So structured in fact, that I have been operating like a robot. Lists, tick, efficiency, straight to the point – WHERE WAS THE ADAPTABILITY, WHERE WAS THE SENSITIVITY AND THE SOCIAL MATURITY???! I could kick myself. Honestly. At this age, I should know better.
I’d need to use my judgement to gauge reactions and determine which people and situations are most receptive to Mirror Mirror. And herein lies the problem. This for me is very difficult. I totally trust my experience and intuition that anyone in a complex situation can benefit from Mirror Mirror – if they’re open to it. Seeing that that individual people who don’t recognise the need could represent the reaction of whole market areas, doesn’t make sense to me. Whether you see the need for Mirror Mirror or not is an emotional rather than a factual response. It’s about them, not the whole market, surely.
But not everyone is a completely independent, challenging thinker like me. As Patricia explained, there are trends, people / roles / industries / cultures that will be more receptive to Mirror Mirror than others. No matter how ambiguous that might seem, you need to spot the trends and hone-in on the most likely buyers.
So again, who is my target?
We already know that the business is coming to the point where we have identified certain business objectives (and budgets) that give us a ‘hook’ and a need. These are HSE, quality, the agile mindset, strategic communications, and performance in general.
Patricia brought up the situation of the new manager. Wouldn’t this be a great way to onboard? OK so we added onboarding to the list.
“Who do you want to work for?” she asked.
Reluctantly, I became specific by saying “Large organizations, because that’s where the budgets are.”
“OK”, she said. “And if you went into an organization like that to do one team, which of your business objectives fits the best? You have to go in step by step to build trust.”
Admittedly, going in to approach strategic communication with Mirror Mirror is more of an end-game because it would be so disruptive. We’d have to build up to that point over years. So that was out. And the generic ‘performance’ piece is too broad. So even though those two business cases were the basis on which Mirror Mirror was designed, we are left with HSE, quality, agile and onboarding. And the managers / leaders of those, who would be the buyers.
Immediately my targeting becomes clearer. I don’t need to be so precious.
|1. The whole world
|2. Leaders and managers of teams
|3. In large organizations
|4. Based in English speaking Western Europe
|5. Who want to achieve better safety / quality / agility / onboarding
|6. And are forward thinking / open to new ideas
|7. And are under pressure to get better results
|8. And interested in developing relationships with external suppliers.
I will design a structured – and socially sensitive plan – to test that target group and hopefully get sales in the process. Even if sales is 25% about targeting, 25% about story / pitch, 25% about credibility, and 25% about timing, every detail counts.
Mirror Mirror – … because a collective focus, with each team at the centre, drives performance.
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