Last weekend, I flew to Washington, D.C., to take part in the Bullish Conference 2017. Being at #BullCon17 was productive. I learned, I strategised, and I refined some important business ideas, including my marketing message.

The conference as a whole had the perfect mix of workshops and social time, and a wonderful crowd of diverse women. There was time to learn, share, and reflect on careers and about life.

I usually summarise an event into key learning points, and I wish I could do that for you here. But even before I try to draft that blog post, I know it’s not going to work. Not because it was some profound and transcendental experience, totally inaccessible to the uninitiated. But because it was very personal, and incremental, so it’s hard to put my finger on what I know now that I didn’t know before.

So instead of some neat and tidy bullet points, I offer you this sprawling diatribe on my ‘journey’.

Find your marketing message

It started on Friday morning over breakfast. I met with Jamie Lee, a negotiation and leadership coach with SheNegotiates. We were planning to talk about my Value Proposition. This is useful for many people when negotiating – in fact it’s step three in the SheNegotiates Strategic Negotiation Plan. I was excited to explore the idea, and what it as in common with the Unique Selling Point used to determine a company’s marketing message.

Jamie asked me to share with her which qualities my customers need me to embody to get the most out of my services. Then she carefully teased out from the muddle a few key phrases. These phrases embody the value I want to offer to my customers, and it was striking to describe myself with them right now.

At no point in the conversation did we discuss anything that I hadn’t thought about before. But Jamie helped me to distil my thinking that into something that was so clear it felt entirely new.

Own your marketing message

Later in the day, I attended a Q & A session hosted by Jen Dziura, founder of Get Bullish, and of the Bullish Conference itself. The whole session was very informative, but one answer in particular really resonated. It built on what’s been percolating for me over the last few weeks. The question was how to identify and target the right audience for your product or service. Jen explained her own approach with a couple of brief anecdotes.

In the first, she described an advert for bottled water on a billboard in India. It said, “If you let your family drink dirty water, they’ll get sick, and they’ll blame you, mum.” Blunt, but effective.

The second concerned a restaurant in New York, named Pizza Beach. Jen went in, and found exactly the beach-themed pizza restaurant she’d been expecting.

These two stories brought us to the same point. If you are completely open and honest about the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your product, you’ll attract customers who share your values. It’s simple, even if you’re not a marketer, and that’s why it’s so useful.

In the short term, you can quickly outline your marketing message, and thereby launch sooner. In the long term, you build trust with your customers, which makes it easy to get their feedback. With that, you can refine and improve your product and your marketing over time.

Jen offers a lot of incredible career advice to on the Get Bullish blog, including this great piece about playing up your small business’s strengths when marketing against larger competitors. I would like to download the advice section of her brain into mine.

What’s next

My focus for the next couple of months is now set. I’m looking for a handful of small business clients who want to work on their digital marketing strategy. Any age of business can benefit, and whatever their level of skill with social media, blogging, and content creation.

I’ll work with each client to coach them through the process of

  • setting goals
  • identifying problems
  • and distilling all the possibilities into specific, immediate actions.

If you know of anyone who needs some clarity and calm around their online presence, please let me know! I’m offering an introductory rate for the first 3 clients.