The marketing and delivery seesaw, for those of you who don’t know, is a concept that’s been around the internet for a little while. To be honest, I’m not even sure where it’s from; somebody let me know in the comments?
I taught my client about that on a one-on-one call just now, and then I extended the idea and I wanted to share that with you.
Let me walk you through the marketing-delivery seesaw idea, and then my version of it.
First let’s go over what a seesaw is.
Most of us as kids have been on a seesaw, so we know how these things work. Ideally, you have someone of equal weight on either side, and then you can use your feet to push upwards and the other person comes down, and then they push upwards, and it’s fun! And sometimes if you’re really, really clever, you can get it to balance exactly.
What is the marketing-delivery seesaw?
For the marketing and delivery seesaw, you will have on the left side marketing, and the right side delivery. Marketing is about bringing new clients in, and delivery is about doing the work for them.
The reason why it’s a bit of a seesaw is that you’ll spend a while doing marketing, and then you’ve got a lot of work. So you focus completely on doing the work, and then that side of the seesaw comes down, or goes up, whichever direction you want to go. Whatever it is, it takes the seesaw out of balance as you focus purely on delivery, and then because you’re so focused on delivery, suddenly when it comes time where you run out of work, there’s no more delivery to do. The marketing side has been ignored.
For some people when they find that they can’t do both at the same time, they have to change their focus from one to the other, and then they’re constantly on this swinging seesaw, and that’s not the fun kind.
So that’s the idea of the marketing – delivery seesaw.
It’s not likely to balance… and that’s OK!
A couple of the things I was talking to my client about today. First is that the seesaw will seesaw, for much of the life of your business. It’s impossible to have both of them level. You will have to constantly shift your focus from one to the other.
As you later get a team, and you don’t have to put your focus on these things, they’re still going to seesaw, because nobody has a constant level of success in their role. Whoever’s running your marketing for you is not going to have a constant level of success, and that constant level is definitely not going to be exactly the same as your delivery team.
There’s always going to be some swinging in it. That’s OK.
Only a little swing
We want a little swing, because if say for example, the marketing came crashing down really fast, then the imaginary marketing person on the seesaw is going to fall off.
And then the next stage, if the seesaw goes back down the other way, the delivery person comes crashing down and they fall off and your business falls apart.
We don’t want to focus exclusively on one side, because that will ruin things with the other. So we want to make sure the seesaw only swings a little.
The third point that I was sharing with my client was that this seesaw actually levitates! As your business does better, the seesaw goes higher and higher in the air.
If you’re focusing purely on the swings back and forth, you can feel like you’re in a bit of a mouse wheel, just kind of going around and around and around not actually getting anywhere, or putting out a fire over here in marketing and then having to go put out a fire over there in delivery. It’s really demoralising to be involved in that kind of thing.
Keep in mind the fact that this seesaw levitates. Occasionally, you do have to look down at the ground and see how far you’ve come, not just look at how the other side of the seesaw is doing and rush over there to rebalance.
Your sense of progress won’t be how stable this seesaw is, because remember from point number one, that it will swing. Your sense of progress will instead be how high the seesaw is going.
Oiling the Seesaw
Next let’s think about the point in the middle, the fulcrum or the pivot point, whatever you want to call it, the bit in the middle that stays still but allows the seesaw to move. That piece in the middle there is pretty important, and I’ve not heard anybody else talk about this idea.
We want to think about oiling the marketing – delivery seesaw, the topic of this post. What is the function of the oil in a seesaw? It allows the seesaw to move smoothly without horrible squeaking sounds, and it allows it to actually swing.
Remember, the seesaw swings, we want it to swing, we also want little swings. We don’t want the seesaw to snap in half because you’re trying to swing it and it won’t move. Having some oil in there is pretty important just for seesaws in general.
Now for your marketing – delivery seesaw, there are a few different types of oil: a savings buffer, cash flow, and margins.
A savings buffer is helpful because you don’t have to get billable client work done in order to pay your bills, you can instead focus on marketing for a little while.
Also, you can do a lot of work on marketing, knowing that you have a savings buffer in place. You don’t have to get billable work out for a while.
This is really important because as you get bigger there will be some projects with your marketing that you’ll need a big block of time for. And you’ll need a brain free of client work in order to do this, like potentially hiring a marketing person and training them.
You need a savings buffer there, so that you have time free of the need to earn money.
The other type of oil for your marketing-delivery seesaw is cash flow.
Having recurring projects coming in means that you don’t need to focus on the marketing so much, and means you can focus a bit more on delivery so you can still pay your bills.
In our seesaw analogy, this is like having someone else regularly push on the marketing side for you.
The third type of oil for your seesaw is your margins. There is going to be separate post about that.
It’s a big part of the profitability of your business. The 80:20 of profitability is getting this right.
Margins are the difference between what you charge your clients and what it costs you to do the thing they paid you for, so none of your overheads. They didn’t pay you to have an office; they paid you to deliver a service or a product.
Getting your margins right means that you can do this swing between marketing and delivery, and you’ve got a little buffer there as well. Also, a savings buffer will automatically build up, giving you that little extra time so you can focus on marketing without always having to be doing client work.
I’ve talked about what the marketing – delivery seesaw is, that it needs to swing a little, and the fact that it levitates. Plus a reminder to oil the centre with a savings buffer, cash flow and margins.
Questions for you:
- How well oiled is your seesaw?
- Which particular type of oil do you think you need to work on next? Is it a buffer? Is it cash flow, like recurring work? Or is it your margins?