It’s hard to believe that 19 years have passed since we opened our doors. When I look at our business, the markets, the technology options – many things are completely different. But in many cases, the nature of the problems we are brought in to solve remain the same.
Like most businesses that survive decades, we’ve had some shifts in our approach to business. For years, we were focused exclusively on working with government organizations. For those of you who have worked with the government – or work in the government – you know that this is an entirely different animal than commercial work.
In our government work, our team was brought in by partners and previous customers. For a team that had been in business as long as we have, we actually did very little outbound marketing.
These days, we have expanded our customer base from just government to also include commercial customers. We’ve also created our own line of mobile products and solutions to augment our supply chain solution consulting practice. This has required us to promote ourselves out in the marketplace.
“So we’ll start marketing.” That seems like a simple enough statement, right? Not so much actually. Marketing yourselves today is very different from the trade shows, advertisements and bingo cards of 20 years ago. There is now a whole world of social media to navigate. “Viral opportunities” are things that you want, not something that you vaccinate. It’s a little overwhelming to say the least.
Being consultants ourselves, we make our living from being the experts brought into help. Since we aren’t marketing experts – and we weren’t sure where to start – we reached out to experts such as MariAnne Vanella at The Vanella Group, Lindsey Stemann at McMillion Consulting and Erika Cannon at Rally Prospecting to get their counsel. They provided us with advice, guidance and support as we got this new marketing adventure underway.
Our first challenge as we got started actually came in simply defining our (new) selves. You might assume that this could be done in your sleep. But if you took a handful of your principals and asked them to succinctly describe your business – how many answers would you have? You’d probably get more variation that you’d expect – especially if your business has evolved over time the way ours has.
Some of you may have gone through this in your organizations – it’s actually a pretty interesting (and enlightening) exercise. To get there, we needed to ask ourselves some seemingly simple questions:
- Who have you been?
- Who do you want to be?
Just think about this for a minute. In looking at the past, what got you started and how did you evolve? What were the core values that you built your business on? What did you do well? What did you not do so well (and would like to leave in the past)?
Now shift gears and do that exercise that most of us did before that first job – “where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?” Taking some time to reflect on the past and then taking the time to envision the future was an unexpected exercise – but an important one. It not only gave us the team the perspective that we needed to land on that common definition of who we are – but it also served to recharge the energy behind our new mission as an organization.
So who is HL Group? Simply put, HL Group is a team that provides cutting edge mobile asset management and supply chain solutions to the
government and commercial markets. Our goal in every engagement is 100% reference-ability and achieving the highest possible returns on our clients’ solution investments.
As we continue to navigate these new marketing waters, I’ll share with you some of the mix of tools, the mechanics of use, and just our story of this “adventure”. Maybe it’ll help you out in the event that you’re in the same boat (or may be soon). Been there – done that? I’d love to hear about your experience too.