Since launching SAJE in 2006, I’ve gone through a few messaging revamps. I haven’t done this because I got it “wrong” in the early days, I quite simply started out focused on one area – messaging and positioning. But I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t work full time on this – there just doesn’t seem to be enough demand in Asia Pacific – even though I believe there should be. However, in the last two years, SAJE has evolved into an Inbound Marketing or Content Marketing Agency as well – both the strategy and the content delivery. As this industry has evolved and started to mature, it just made sense to align our business within it. It was like this new industry was created just for SAJE, but someone else came up with a better name for the services.
However, there has been a significant challenge in the mix for us these last two years. The content marketing is MY side of the business, whereas the other director, Steve Johnson, is focused on sales and marketing strategies for Asia Pacific, with a focus on technical marketing, as well as setting up effective distributor partnerships in the region.
While both skill-sets are very complementary, it has been challenging coming up with the language (or the words) to really define what SAJE is at a basic level – the sort of description everyone understands and can be easily created into an elevator pitch. Many companies go through this in the early days, because it is not always clear cut when you start out. You can often see industry trends coming along (such as the Inbound Marketing revolution in my case) or you notice that one aspect of your business is cracking and two other areas just don’t generate any interest at all. When that happens, you need to refocus on what is working, because your customers are telling you where you’ve got it right. In this case, the customer is definitely right.
When that happens, you’ve got to go back to the drawing board and redefine who you are and what you mean to the world. The challenge is, are you the best person to do it? I don’t know the answer to that, because here’s my quandary.
I offer this as a service in my business. I do it with companies great and small – whether it’s redefining the whole company positioning, a product or service messaging, or ensuring the story is relevant to target vertical markets. I think I’m pretty good at this 🙂 and my customer feedback along the way has verified that, but when it comes to my own company – man oh man it’s been hard!
So is that a lesson for all? Someone (as in me) who knows exactly how to do this stuff and yet I struggle when doing it for my own company? It leads me to think that perhaps we aren’t well equipped to do this ourselves because we’re too close to it? Therefore, as a lesson learnt by someone who specializes in this work, perhaps if you’re struggling to get your voice heard in your competitive market, bring in an outsider who can look at your business with fresh eyes?
I know I could do with some fresh eyes on my words – in fact, maybe you could be those fresh eyes? Here are my new words to describe SAJE – have I got it right? And please, don’t look at the design. That’s just not one of my strengths at all.
As a final point – my job got easier recently. Steve is now engaged full-time with two companies doing what he does best – setting up a distributor network for a heavily technical business across Asia Pacific – which means I can take his services out of the SAJE story. Phew. That makes refining my company story a lot easier. Maybe we should never have tried to bring the two together? But the skills were definitely complementary, it was the positioning it together as an easy-to-understand-company-story that was not.
I look forward to your feedback on my new company story if you can spare the time? It’s not long I promise and I’d sure appreciate it!