How to make better decisions

By  •  Updated: 08/01/23 •  3 min read

A few times over the last year I’ve helped out some agency owners with their websites.

The trouble with websites is that they’re simple enough to build, but they drag you into every corner of the business if you’re going to do a decent job of it.

Starting with that troublesome bit at the top of the homepage that says what the hell you actually do.

I don’t know what it is about agency owners, but they flat refuse to be pinned down to one thing.

It’s like their entire identity is built around the idea of being able to solve any problem for any business.

There are two problems with this approach:

  1. It’s bullshit
  2. It doesn’t win business

My first agency never really took off until we decided to focus on “ecommerce for premium brands”

The moment we focussed, we picked up business in our target market at an incredible rate.

Then, because we did one thing over and over again, we actually got good at it.

Because we were good at it, we got the job done faster and made more money.

It should be simple, but there’s some sort of existential crisis that happens when you try to get someone to focus on one thing.

The typical marketing agency website has copy that goes something like:

“Award winning marketing agency”

Then a list of about 12 tactical services, and an “About us” page with 4 people on it.

It’s just not credible.

What’s more credible is to say you do one thing for one group or people.

Not any sort of website, just ecommerce websites.

Not for anyone with something to sell, just brand owners, and ones selling a quality product at a premium price.

We got to this decision with a surprisingly simple tool.

Years ago I read a careers guidance book called “What colour is your parachute?”.

It has an exercise where you list out lots of different aspects of a job, like “working with people” or “having a consistent routine”, then you have to prioritise.

Prioritising is HARD when you have a long list.

Every time you pick something, you get distracted by all the stuff you’re leaving behind.

So, the trick is to just take pairs or options and ask “If I could only have one of these, which would it be?”

You work your way through the whole list, with every combination, until you have one that pops out as your preferred option.

On paper it looks like this:

But I found this distracting too, because the full list is always in front of you.

So, for my latest F*ck Around Friday project, I fixed it.

I built a tool where you can put in all the options you need to choose from, and just pick them off from pairs one at a time.

I call it the “Priority Pairs Decision Making Method“, and you can have a play with it here.

Maybe use it to decide what to work on today?

Let me know what you think.

Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.