As we head towards the end of the financial year, it’s a good time to ask yourself whether you’re pleased with how business has been for you this year. Not just in terms of your financial results – although those are obviously of paramount importance – but also in terms of how close the business you’re running is to the one that you really, truly want.
Are you spending your days doing things that make you and your team feel alive and in alignment with your purpose? Helping the people you feel most drawn to help? Creating and selling products and services you’re proud of and excited by? Having the kind of impact you’d like to?
If not, what kind of changes or reinvention of yourself or your business will be required in order to realise your dreams or bring them closer to you to taking shape?
In my experience, making a decision to consciously transform your business often involves making changes on two different levels: the internal and the external. How do you know where to start, and whether your goal is to support evolutionary change or take a big, revolutionary leap forward?
Changes in self-perception are often evolutionary
For many small business owners (and especially those who consider their work to be an aspect of their spirituality or service to the world), the first transformation needs to take place internally, and is often evolutionary.
For example, if you’re a natural health practitioner, it might be the gradual awareness that you don’t feel like a novice any more, or that where once you were on a mission to save the whole world, you’re now mostly interested in working in a certain way or with people with particular types of problems, belief systems or attitudes.
Or it might be the dawning realisation that if you want to grow your sales and help as many people as you can, you’re going to need to find a way to spread your message further, wider and more effectively than you have been (for instance by stretching yourself to take on writing or teaching work) .
In larger organisations, a similar transition occurs, but tends to be driven by strategic management decisions regarding business priorities, often preceded by new consumer or market insights that drive changes to the allocation of resources and budgets.
Whichever form they take, and regardless of whether they occur organically or as a result of consciously pushing yourself to step up and embrace something new, these types of internal, evolutionary changes to how you perceive yourself in relation to your business and your clients can be profound and powerful.
Internal changes necessitate changes to your marketing
As those internal shifts occur, your business will often start to change too. And commonly, you’ll start feeling that your existing marketing is no longer reflective of who you are and what you have to offer. That you’ve outgrown it, it’s become outdated, or that it’s not helping you build the kind of business that you actually want.
That’s where the external work comes in: making changes to the aspects of your business that are overtly visible to your clients and prospective customers. It might mean that it’s time to freshen up your branding, revise your website, take a new direction with your blog, or launch new products, packages or services.
Here, you have the choice of reinventing your business in a way that’s either evolutionary or revolutionary.
Changing your marketing infrastructure? Be revolutionary, and move fast
Often, when it comes to large marketing investments like launching a new logo, revamping your packaging or replacing your current website, revolution is the way to go.
This enables you to leapfrog over the several generations of changes that have occurred in technology and design trends since you last invested in these areas of your marketing infrastructure, and at the same time, allows you to create a tangible shift in the way your brand is perceived by your clients and prospective clients.
A lot of thought and strategising should go into the development of your new marketing infrastructure, but it’s best done over a concentrated period of time, and behind closed doors out of sight of your audience (and competitors).
Once it’s ready to roll out, execute as quickly and completely as possible, so your new brand image rapidly becomes the new normal for you and your audience.
Transitioning into a new niche? Focus on evolution, and get your customers involved along the way
On the other hand, some evolutionary shifts in direction are best executed over a longer period of time, and sometimes within public view.
For example, let’s say you’re currently operating a general practice in your chosen modality, and over the long term, you want to move away from seeing clients and into offering online courses. In that case, you probably won’t want to take the revolutionary step of ceasing to market your existing business at the start of the transition period.
Instead, your focus should be on evolution. For example, you might want to dial up your social media presence and / or make gradual changes to the themes you blog about. That way, you can continue to maintain your dialogue with your existing client base, while also reflecting your new focus and attracting a new audience who are specifically interested in the direction you’re business is headed.
Integrity and authenticity are everything
Whether the changes you’re making are evolutionary or revolutionary, the new marketing face you present to the world should be authentic and consistent with the internal shifts that have occurred or are underway.
If they’re not, you’ll end up with marketing that consists of exaggerated claims or other forms of smoke and mirrors, and it’s quite likely that you’re potential clients will sense that something in your marketing is a bit off, and be wary rather than trusting of you.
If you’re looking to make some changes in your business and would like some assistance, please get in touch with me. I offer copywriting and marketing consulting to natural health businesses of all sizes, and also offer marketing coaching to established natural health practitioners who have a strong vision for their business and the determination and passion to bring it to life.