I went to lunch with a friend the other day to ask him about his company's marketing journey. I wanted to find out what their experience was like and where they had challenges and successes along the way.
This particular company is very typical of the small, service-based businesses that I focus on in my own marketing practice. They would tell you that they are a couple of accountants who are really good at what they do and enjoy the clients they work with. They would also tell you that they weren't marketing people who knew how to attract a steady stream of new business.
I asked my friend if there was a particular point in time or event that finally triggered their marketing breakthrough. I wanted to understand what they learned through their own trial and error. I wanted to see if there was something specific that helped them finally crack the code on marketing.
At first he thought the answer was when they finally narrowed down their target market. They finally defined a niche that was a very good fit for them, made sense to them, and helped them stay focused. We agreed that this was a huge breakthrough. It's often easy to say, but usually very hard for small businesses to narrow their target market. This was a step that was clearly paying dividends for my friend's small business.
But, it wasn't really the answer for what helped them make their marketing breakthrough. After a little further discussion we discovered that the practice never made any marketing headway until they defined and clarified their Purpose and Vision.
Without a clearly defined Purpose and Vision, the business owners could never really articulate what they were and what they were trying to get done. A little more discussion with his partner confirmed it for us. Without clarifying their purpose and vision, the business was very reactive, they were reactively taking whatever business they could get through the door.
Clarifying their Purpose and Vision created the marketing breakthrough. Purpose and vision tell you and everyone else what it is you're out to cause and where you want to go and what impact you want to make with the business. Doing this gave my friend and his partner focus and direction that didn't exist before. It made narrowing their target market and all these other marketing strategies and tactics make sense.