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A new cohort has just started our 12-month marketing leadership programme. The first month focuses on the Flow Foundations (see Chapter 2, Watertight Marketing – 2nd Ed.). Every coaching session I had with our clients this month had a theme… rhythm. That is, what is the cadence of focus across the four foundations, or do you have to do them all equally all of the time? ~ Bryony Thomas, Author | Watertight Marketing
The four Flow Foundations are the key organising lens through which the Watertight Thinking tools are organised.
These consist of:
- F1 | First Flow Foundation – The Right Work: a client mix that nourishes your business both economically and energetically. (See F1 project list here)
- F2 | Second Flow Foundation – Balanced Routine: a careful mix of marketing tools and tactics mapped to every step of the decision journey. (See F2 project list here)
- F3 | Third Flow Foundation – Baseline Rhythm: doing enough of the plan above and often enough to make a difference. (See F3 project list here)
- F4 | Fourth Flow Foundation – Maintain Momentum: having the values, vision and milestones to keep you motivated. (See F4 project list here)
There are key projects that sit under each of these. The question from our clients, is where do they start and how often do these projects need focus.
Where do you start?
You’ll notice this visualised above as a cycle. So, where you start will depend on where you are now. We work with established businesses (typically in the £2-20m revenue range). That’s why our numbering picks up where it does, because our clients often have a pretty clear vision already. Sometimes we need to rewind a little to give this clarity.
Find your focus by doing our 10-minute test to rate your business against the four Flow Foundations. Take the test >
How often do you focus on these projects?
This was the question I was asked that prompted this intriguing visualisation.
What I’ve done here is to make marks when a key project under each foundation is likely to need a small, medium or large amount of focus, over a three year timeframe. A slower moving industry might stretch this out over five, and a fast moving one squeeze it into around 18 months. The point is that there’s a related interval within each that then repeats.
And, who knew?! It looks like music! I’m not a musician and don’t read music, so it really tickled me that I came up with something that a musician could look at and hear in their minds.
When I showed this to my team, they were worried that I might get them to demonstrate this through interpretive dance… ooh, now I like that (in the ideas bank that goes!)
I see / hear the two Strategic Foundations (F1 and F4) as having a slower rhythm and more defined sound, and the Operational Foundations (F2 & F3) as being a faster and lighter beat.
I’m known for my crazy metaphors. I see this rhythm piece in four key ways:
- Like a mixing desk with four tracks that are overlaid.
- Like an orchestra with each part played by a different instrument (or family of instruments).
- A dance with four sets of people doing a different set of moves (I’m seeing the OA, but that just shows how many box sets I watch).
- A Caractacus Potts or Dr Emmett Brown style crazy machine with four sequences of moving parts.
Of these, I much prefer the human ones to the machine metaphor. As seen in Chitty and Back to the Future – machines can go very wrong without realising it, and the errors compound down the line. A dance troupe or orchestra will spot a mis-step or mis-key and adapt. A missed moment by a percussionist does not make every other musician go awry, and they will quickly pick up the beat again. Regardless of the march of AI, your business is far more human than it is machine, and that’s a good thing!
The key thing here is that each foundation is different, but interweave with the others. They are not an incessant drone of always on monotony drowning each other out. They are a complementary rhythm. Each with its own style and sequence. It’s only when they come together that your business will thrive. If they are not in sync it will all feel a bit scratchy and hard.
Rhythm = Resilience
Everything living in nature that persists and is resilient over time and thrives has a rhythm. It may change slightly over time. Quick changes or stopping are rarely a good thing. There are seasons, life stages, bodily functions, night & day, etc. If you think of your business as a living thing, you can start to map its rhythms – and when it comes to marketing strategy and operations, this is the shape I think you’re looking for.
Author & Founder, Watertight Marketing
Bryony Thomas is the creator of the multi-award winning Watertight Marketing methodology, captured in her best-selling book of the same name. She is one of the UK's foremost marketing thinkers, featured by the likes of Forbes, The Guardian, Business Insider and many more, and in-demand speaker for business conferences, in-house sales days and high-level Board strategy days.