The purpose of this article is about my strategy for establishing a business plan for 2020. It's important for your business to have a clear plan for forward movement. I realize this isn’t a novel idea, but it’s a great reminder to think about your business goals. Maybe your goal is as basic as feeding your family. Hopefully, there is more to your goals than that. Maybe your goal is to achieve something lofty, like 10 times growth in one year or maybe a more modest 50% growth in a year.
You should know what your goals are for your business and, hopefully, you've already set them. If not, I have an older article about setting goals that I recommend you go find and read. For the sake of this article, I’m going to address how to aim at your goal. With Wapiti, I take yearly stock of where my goals are. I examine how I'm achieving them or not achieving them, and how my company is moving. This year I have goals that are actually pretty lofty. I'm hoping for roughly 10x growth. I may not achieve that, but if I fail and fall short, I'm going to be pretty happy with my growth regardless.
There's an importance in understanding your goal and aiming your company to achieve that goal. In my previous article where I recount a recent screw up I had made, I started off by hinting at how Wapiti has refocused and reimagined how we're targeting clients. I want to expand on that a bit in this article because there's a reason why I'm doing that. Maybe by hearing the reason why I'm doing that, it will help you figure out new ways to re-steer, refocus, or refine the way that your business is moving along.
Towards the end of last year, I lost a large account: another agency that had hired me as a “white-labeled” web company for them. The relationship is still good; I only lost that account because they ended up hiring in house. They were actually a substantial amount of my income coming in. So when that happened, it kind of forced me to look more at my company - to look at the services that I advertise, look at the services that people actually hire me for, and have an honest chat with myself.
I asked myself if the way I was doing things was really the way I wanted. I came to an interesting conclusion that web design should be the main advertising focus of Wapiti. In the past, I’ve been somewhat critical of being labeled a “web design agency,” specifically because you can get website design done anywhere. The whole zone where I live and work is pretty saturated with people doing web design and web services. So why would I choose to push my business down a path where the competition is pretty heavy?
Wapiti is coming up on seven years in April. When I started Wapiti, I had no intention of it even being my main job, not to mention, did I ever think that we would be heading to almost double digits in age. In all that time, though, web design was one thing I never advertised for my business because of the aforementioned complications and competitiveness and everything that surrounds them. Instead, I always highlighted services and marketing aspects Wapiti provides because I felt they had more impact in helping a business grow well. Clients may get a new website along with it, but in my opinion, that was just a by-product.
At the end of 2019, I came to the realization that I think I have had one, maybe two clients who approached me for marketing services. Since I've been in business, all of my other clients, and I have had quite a few clients, have come to me for web design. And if it wasn’t specifically for design, it was editing their current site so that it could do different things. Fortunately, Wapiti is really good at that. Looking at statistics, 99% of my business came to me for the one thing that I refused to advertise for. I was chatting with my friend, Jon, who occasionally works with me in the office, about these statistics and he says, “Have you ever thought about just focusing on what people hire you for?” Novel idea, right?
So after that “aha” moment, I decided to rebuild my marketing message. Wapiti as a company still does the same things – we’re still a digital marketing agency that focuses on growth through the internet. We just have a really awesome strength on web design that’s conversion-focused. It became apparent that people hire us for that. Conversely, that also means that there are people who aren’t hiring us because they don't realize that unadvertised strength of Wapiti.
I decided to refocus all of Wapiti’s messaging. On the side of my building, I use a movie poster holder, with LED backlighting, as my signage. All I have to do is switch out the poster and I have all new signage. My new sign now says simply, “We make websites.” When you go to my website, you’ll see the same thing in big letters, with a very clean, minimal design. I also had some new cards printed with big letters on the front: “We make websites.” I wanted to have a consistent theme throughout, and it's the one thing I've never advertised. Now, it's completely what I'm going all-in on.
Wapiti is set up on three basic pillars:
This is the main reason I’ve been reluctant to label Wapiti as a web design company. Web design is a mixture of creativity and intelligence (hence our slogan: creatively smart); whereas services are all about intelligence, diligence, and watchfulness. We have pretty high end hosting to ensure that our clients don't just have a beautiful website, but that it ranks well with Google and loads well for clients. We are all about ensuring that our clients and their sites are ready to make money. We also service a lot of clients in the advertising arena as well. You will have a leg up on others if your services are right.
The third main category for Wapiti is digital consulting. I’ve honed my digital consulting ability through systems I’ve built from the ground up for multiple clients. For example, in my former days, I spent 13 years managing and running a coffee roaster in the area. They're really good at subscription coffee sales and I helped build that system. When I joined, we had about 40 customers a month. When I left, we had about 8,000 total customers with about 4,000 or so monthly shipments. We grew the company and made it sustainable. In the consulting world, I consult with all kinds of businesses, but I also have a specialty in the coffee industry.
By focusing on those three things, I'm actually focusing on strengths and what my clients ask the most of me. While my focus is on those three things, I still offer everything else. Nothing has changed with Wapiti. If you need help finding a strategy for a podcast or need some help setting up your email marketing, Wapiti will still do these things.
Perhaps it’s time you take a look at your business. If you know where you're trying to go, you need to look at how you're getting there. Maybe you are advertising one thing but your customers are really wanting something else you do. It's important to be willing to pivot and turn to get down the right road to head toward growth.