Friday, 19 April 2013

Planning a Practice

I have, in recent weeks, spent a lot of time talking with clients and prospective clients about marketing. Anyone who knows me will be laughing by now, since they know that marketing is some distance from being a speciality of mine. In my defence, I understand it at a strategic level and know just about enough to know that I shouldn't do it on my own.

In offering suggestions to clients (usually along the lines of 'You need to speak with an expert - can I suggest someone..."), I am, as ever, forced to consider my own attempts at marketing.

I suppose I do market my business - I certainly do some client care and a bit of sales. I am, however, usually surprised by the directions that my practice takes me, which surely isn't the sign of a marketing plan in operation.

Let me give you an example. Since January, I have done a whole lot of bits and pieces. Smaller, one and two day jobs usually separated by some significant geography - with the odd week's worth thrown-in (usually at the most inconvenient time and in the wrong location to be helpful). I accept this as being the life of the self-employed. I had a pal who is a musician (who, to my shame, I haven't seen for many years now) who used to say that, when starting a business or working as a self-employed musician, you spent a lot of time just saying "Yes" when offered work - and then trying to sort out how on earth you would be able to get to Manchester and Bristol on the same day.

My practice has been a little like that recently. A few weeks ago, I was in Ipswich for a 7pm meeting - having been in Brussels the day before and Oxford that morning. Usually I quite enjoy this phase - but it does become a little tiring.

I am sometimes concerned, however, that saying "Yes" to jobs isn't much of a marketing plan. I will continue with the same defence - when self-employed in a difficult market, there isn't much else to do. When talking with clients - or rather when admitting to this reality - I usually describe it as being flexible, lithe, responsive.

We'll go with that description then...

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