While I have been on my own as an independent consultant for close to 4 years, it was only last June that I rebranded the career consulting arm of Aspyre Solutions into Brooklyn Resume Studio. The decision came from an ongoing feeling that I was involving myself in a constant juggling act of marketing, creative, customer outreach and branding strategies that was trying to squeeze two multi-faceted brands into one.
Since separating out the two brands and launching Brooklyn Resume Studio about 12 months ago, business has increased nearly 400% in revenue and over 300% in customers billed. The amazing thing was the immediate, and consistent (this wasn’t just a one month high here), growth that stemmed from a newborn brand, versus the slow, and hardly steady, growth I saw coming out of a brand that was almost 3 years old.
Sure, Brooklyn Resume Studio fed off of Aspyre’s success for a little while, but in all reality, its success was pretty independent on its own. So what made all the difference, and turned a slowly growing consulting business into a solidly growing self-sustainable business in less than 12 months?
Getting back to basics. Understanding who I best serve (one core audience), what I provide, the value behind it, and having a clear marketing, sales and growth strategy in place focused completely on growing that brand. Here’s what I did:
I Narrowed Down My Audience
People looking for career coaching/resume writing services have vastly different objectives than those looking for small business startup support. Occasionally they overlap, but mostly by coincidence, and without the customer even knowing it before they got here. All of my goals and strategies revolved around serving that former audience, and eliminating my “2 birds with 1 stone” approach.
I Zeroed in on My Core Skills
There are a number of things I can “do”, and probably even make money providing to the right people. But career consulting and resume writing is my bread and butter. With 10 years of recruiting and HR experience under my belt, it’s truly what I’ve mastered and have established credibility in. Why not leverage that as much as possible?
I Chose a Better Name
If you read “Brooklyn Resume Studio” on my business card, it would be pretty clear from the get-go what it is we specialize in: resume writing! This was one mistake I made early on with Aspyre Solutions, when I erred on the side of sounding established and business-like, instead of choosing a name that spoke clearly and directly to what the business does. (Tip: keep that same thought process in mind when choosing a logo.) Outside of referral business, my second highest revenue driver is customers who find me through organic search, and choosing the right name played a big role in that.
I Approached BRS With a New Slate
Aside from repurposing some of the existing blog content I was really proud of, I took very little in terms of content from one brand to another, and allowed myself to start fresh, with a new business plan, a new creative identity, and a new direction. Even though I had several thousand email subscribers, they were a mixed bag of people who might not want what the new brand offered. So I started fresh. I built new social media profiles, a new website, new collateral, and created a totally new brand, leveraging what contacts I did already have to help me get word out. Many people were excited to hear about the new “venture”, and I received fantastic feedback on the new visual identity system.
I Created Better Systems
It’s easier to track what’s working, what’s not working, and what people are willing to invest in when you’re dealing with a consistent portfolio of products. One of the biggest pieces of advice I often give to budding entrepreneurs is to make sure you have adequate tools and systems in place from day 1 to track things like what products and how much of each you’re selling each month, what marketing channels your revenue, and your customers, are coming from, same thing for your prospects, how many customers you’re billing regularly, and what changes and trends are taking place. This is critical if you want consistency, sustainability, and growth.
I Let Go of What Wasn’t Working
Aspyre Solutions is a blog about small business, entrepreneurship and creative freelancing. And I was attached to the brand: I had kept it running for 3 years, established business certificates and banks accounts in the name, created a myriad of marketing collateral, and invested thousands of hours into my website presence and social media persona. It was tough to let that go and pursue a new brand from scratch. But if I wanted to bring this business to the next level, it had to be done under the right brand, and through the right channels.
I Hired a Mentor
Bringing in someone to take an objective look at the business was perhaps one of the best moves I ever made. Of course it’s an investment, but one that you will surely make back many-fold if you find someone who can provide real value. I hired Katherine, who helped me with everything from streamlining my operations, to setting the right kinds of goals, implementing the right strategies to hit those goals, and understanding where my time, money and resources were best spent to achieve the best possible outcome.
I cringe when I look back at some of the old content and marketing pieces I created in the early days when I was just starting out. But it was a work in progress to get to where I am, and absolutely a learning experience. I spent countless hours analyzing data, seeing where I was making mistakes, what I was doing right, and what I could be doing better. And every piece of it was valuable, as I look forward toward where I want to go next!