Tackle your business development like a golf pro

Tackle your business development like a golf pro

Bryony Thomas ‘Business development’ – something we’re all interested in tackling. It tends to be a catch-all term for door opening, partnership building, and sales… all of which needs to be supported by (watertight) marketing. These are complementary skills we’ve been working on with our Non Executive Director, Alison McDougall. In one of our sessions, she used a great analogy from her golfing passion to bring this to life. It was so good, I asked her to share it with all of you. ~ Bryony Thomas

As well as being a non-exec with Watertight Marketing I help and encourage business owners to update their skills… including their business development and marketing skills. Not tactical but strategic. I don’t mind if you don’t know how to Tweet. I do mind if you think Twitter (or any social media tool) is your answer to increased sales… but you can’t say why.

In my ‘other life’ I wanted to be a professional golfer but alas the tools in my skills cupboard barely equip me to get around 18 holes with a mid range handicap.

But my love of the game has meant that I have watched hundreds of hours of golf – at tournaments and on the box. This has taught me a few things about skill development and how I approach certain business development and marketing tasks.

Marketing a marketing agency

For a number of years I owned and ran a successful marketing agency providing below-the-line marketing and event management expertise for some huge global brands. We held long-term retained contracts with some of these clients for over 10 years so we can assume that the product and service we provided was effective and valuable.

My role ranged from conceptual thinking to management of delivery for those clients and brands.

As the owner and sole Director of my agency I was also responsible for, what seemed an interminable list of stuff I hadn’t considered before establishing my business:

  • Financial management
  • Employment rights and wellbeing
  • Health & safety
  • Employee development
  • Business development
  • and so on
  • and on and on!

I outsourced lots, but not business development

Of course, I commissioned experts where it was needed. Some were great, others not so. When the commission failed, it was difficult to take. After a few experiences, it prompted me to learn as much as possible so that I could understand what the consultants were saying. So, for instance, I knew the expertise I was receiving on H&S was relevant to my business not just a stock out-of-the box answer.

It took time and effort to gain this knowledge, but in the end it saved me more time and certainly thousands of pounds from hiring the wrong consultants.

As a marketing agency owner, it won’t surprise you to know that I did not seek expertise for the business development plan for my own business. Nor did I have a marketing strategy written down.

But… oh how I wish I had!

We were, after all, an SME not a big brand. And it’s my view that we wasted a lot of time, effort and money because we did not define our own marketing strategy.

That is not to say we weren’t successful. We were a good 7-figure business that I eventually sold.

What has this to do with the golf mentioned earlier?

Rory, Jordan, Inbee, Annika and more – all are experts at golf. The best in the world some would say. They maintain their training programme week in week out on developing their skills. They often go back to the basics to ensure they can progress further. They update their skills and they update the tools they use. Consistently and constantly.

I did some of this but not for my core skill of marketing. This is what I should have done. Hindsight is… we all know how that sentence ends!

If I had known then what I know now

My little agency did well, but I struggled to deliver business growth past £2million. If I had known and implemented the Watertight Marketing methodology then, I am certain we would have hit the £5million mark.

If we had achieved that, I don’t think I would have sold. I believe a bigger business would have given me the freedom I wanted but was unable to achieve with the business at the size it was.

I believe my experience is worth sharing. Wherever you are in your business life; whatever stage, it is crucial that you have a sales driven strategic marketing plan for your business.

If you think you know it all, just take a step back and ask yourself some relevant strategic questions.

What’s next for your business development then?

If you don’t know what those questions are… then I am going to suggest you could probably do with some outside influence. Either way…. even if you are an expert you may want to make sure that you keep training.

If training is the right thing for these world-leading golf professionals it’s probably the right thing for you and your business too.

Alison McDougallBy Alison McDougall – Watertight Marketing Non-Executive Director. Alison is business and marketing advisor, mentor, trustee and non-executive director. She works in partnership with commercial businesses and charities to support their leaders in meeting their commercial goals, whilst still having a life.

Questions: Drop Alison a line on Twitter @McDAlison


FREE ONLINE WORKSHOP: Do you know enough about marketing to lead your business growth?“Watertight marketing is the best checklist and guide to taking the next step I've seen”

Bryony Thomas runs a regular webinar for MDs to quietly assess their own marketing knowledge, and whether it’s holding their business back. Through 24 powerful Yes / No questions, you’ll be able to assess whether it’s an area of skill development you need to address. Details & booking >

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