Goodbye 2014. Thanks for the memories (and lessons)

13 January 2015

Are you still making the same mistake? I needed to fill in a form and write out a cheque. All was going well until I got to the date. Auto pilot took over: I wrote 12/1/14. Right day. Right month. Wrong year!

I remember doing the same thing at school for about the first two weeks of a new year. A brand new textbook would be ruined as I rubbed out the previous years date to enter the correct one.

Christmas has well and truly gone. And the new year isn’t so ‘new’ any more.

January seems to be an appropriate time to reflect on the past year, as well as looking forward to the coming year. And that’s what I been doing.

I learnt a lot in 2014. I won’t bore you with everything but here are just two things:

  1. It’s all about me
  2. I need to go on a diet

Now if you know me personally both of things may come as a bit of a surprise to you. I don’t think I’m a particularly arrogant person and I’m definitely not overweight! So what do I mean.

Both of these things relate to my business rather than me personally.

It’s all about me

I read a lot of material last year about sales and marketing and specifically how this relates to a one-person business. Since I started out on my own in July 2007 I have never refereed to myself by name. On my website it has always been ‘Snap Designs this’ or ‘Snap Designs that’. Client testimonials have referenced the business name rather than my personal name.

I don’t think I’ve been alone in doing this. But I’ve become convinced over this last year that this is not helpful.

Businesses are encouraged to find their unique selling point – biggest, fastest, cleverest, etc – and sell themselves accordingly. Well my unique selling point is me.

When you ask me to design a website that is what happens – I design a website.

When you have a question about your website that I designed it’s me who answers your question.

And when you refer me to a friend (which would be nice) it’s me who they will connect with.

You see Snap Designs is all about me.

I need to go on a diet

It’s true, despite going to the gym (fairly regularly), I am carrying a bit more weight around the midriff than I was 20 years ago. But according to the NHS chart I sit comfortably in the Healthy Weight section.

I need to slim down on my marketing. From 2007 until now the world has been my oyster. I have boldly declared that I design websites, logos and printed material… for everybody!

As I result I have been inundated with design jobs from all corners of the globe. The phone never stops ringing. My inbox is full to overflowing.

Not true.

Dont panic I’m not about to go out of business – my wife and kids will have food on the table this week. The phone does ring and my inbox is populated with emails requiring action. But my client list is pretty static and that’s not entirely a good thing. Yes I’m encouraged that so many people have been with me for so many years (I must be doing something right) but I know that any business needs to keep adding new clients to its list.

A lot of stuff I read in 2014 about marketing all emphasised the importance of focusing down. The challenge was clear, I shouldn’t be marketing myself to everybody. Rather I need to identify a target market and seek to do all I can to help people in that area.

So from now on I’m targeting small businesses and charities. My new website (coming soon!) will make this quite clear. Not only will the site look different, it will also sound different. The content won’t be about what I can and want to do but what small businesses and charities need and how I can help them.

Why them? Because they are the groups I have primarily worked with. And they’re the groups most likely to work with me in the future.

Big multi-national companies aren’t in the habit of using one man bands. But small businesses value the one-to-one contact they themselves offer.

Most charities can’t afford in-house design teams or the high fees that some ‘studios’ charge so will naturally look for a more cost-effective solution.

2014 was a good year. Here’s hoping 2015 will be even better.