Business coaches often recommend that companies like mine package up our offerings and systematize them so that we can just roll them out like off a conveyor belt and rake in the money. And some providers do it really well. They have defined their audience super clearly, they work with a very specific set of people, and offer them a set list of things at fixed prices. That enables you to scale and not spend time rethinking every proposal. It also enables you to offer services at a lower cost, if you want to. That is great, if that’s your thing, but what I find with clients, and particularly with strategy work, is that there’s always a wrinkle – and this makes a strict approach difficult.
I have been evolving my processes over the last couple of years and I have ways that I like to approach my clients’ problems, but I’ve found that when I’ve tried to be too prescriptive, it never quite works as I’d hoped.
For example, it might turn out that a straightforward marketing strategy project has to flex a bit because there’s a second audience to consider that needs a very different approach. Or, we go through a brand strategy project and it takes us somewhere very different to where we thought we would go, and now the next steps need to be different.
If you have a set of package prices that never vary, you need to be strict to make money. You need to stick to exactly what falls within the confines of the package, and it does not allow for any unexpected twists.
But the unexpected is what gets me excited about my work. I enjoy the challenge of the wrinkles that emerge. It means I have to be a bit more flexible and need to allow for that from the start, but the end result is more meaningful for my clients. It means that they get the result they need, not what they thought they wanted at the start.
For me, it has also underlined the importance of keeping an open mind and having a thorough process that uncovers the wrinkles. If I assume I know what answers we’re going to get, I’m going to miss something. My process has become more question-led and collaborative, rather than coming in with the answers. I know good ways to get to the right answers, but I don’t want to say I know what the answers are at the start.
For a long time in my career, I thought I had to have all the answers ready. To a certain extent that’s true, because I’m being paid for my expertise and skills, but I can do a better job if I ask some questions first. Businesses often ask me, should I be on X social media platform? My answer – It depends! It depends on your audience and which social media platforms they use, and how. For example, don’t worry about Tiktok if your audience is 70-year-old men.
If you want someone to swoop in and tell you what you should do, because I’ve seen what works with other kinds of similar businesses, that’s not me. I want to get to know you and your business first. Like you, your business is unique and I want to find your wrinkle.
If you like the sound of this approach and would like to work with me, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.