Imagine trying to tap dance whilst juggling plates. Tricky, right? Now imagine trying to do this on a table with wobbly legs. Trickier still?
This paints a vivid picture of the challenge that most growing businesses are facing. Running a business is hard. Keeping everything running, making decisions and responding to what the world throws at you is as tricky as many a circus act. What we see, in how people manage their marketing efforts, is that people make this even harder by attempting to do it on a wobble board.
The Four Flow Foundations (introduced in Chapter 2 of Watertight Marketing, 2nd ed) are like the four legs of your table. For stable growth, you need those table legs to be of equivalent length. This is your growth platform, made up of:
- F1) First Flow Foundation: The Right Work – a nourishing mix of clients that keeps your business energetically and economically resourced.
- F2) Second Flow Foundation: Balanced Routine – a mix of marketing tools and techniques mapped to every step in the sale.
- F3) Third Flow Foundation: Baseline Rhythm – a commitment to using those tools and techniques and regular and repeated intervals so that they can have an effect.
- F4) Fourth Flow Foundation: Maintain Momentum – Clear and compelling vision and values, translated into a meaningful plan that keeps everyone enthused and on track.
If we relate these back to the table metaphor, you’ll find F1 and F4 on one side of the table representing the Strategic elements of marketing, and F2 and F3 on the other side representing the Operational elements of the function.
Our starting point when working with clients in achieving sustainable and scalable sales flow is to undertake a diagnostic to give each of these foundations a percentage scoring; we’ll often see a picture emerge of a lopsided table.
Most often this is where a business has a high score on the Strategic Foundations, and a low score on the Operational Foundations. A business weighted towards Strategy will almost certainly be doing ok. They know what they are selling to whom, and why. Often, they have skilled salespeople who have worked hard to establish an excellent reputation and core client base. But they’re frustrated that they can’t seem to get beyond a growth plateau, or simply getting a little tired and wanting to find a way of locking onto some of this success with good processes that allow the business to scale beyond the skill of key individuals.
When we see this tipped in the other direction, with Operational prowess but Strategic imprecision, a business will be making money – but will be very unlikely to make a lasting impact in the world or be a place that people love working. These kinds of businesses can be grown, but marrying it with the substance of a compelling strategy will always allow a business to go further, faster – making a positive impact as they go.
Locking in your success and getting your business positioned for truly scalable sales growth starts with understanding the elements that make up each of these foundations, then assessing how effectively you currently address each of them.
The businesses we’ve seen manage this elegantly (whilst tap dancing and juggling plates) do this by equalising their foundations, and then stepping up each one evenly over time.
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Many thanks to Bryony for her insights. Bryony is a regular speaker at Vistage events - just one of the benefits of being a Vistage member. Learn more about membership here.