Want To Get It Right? Try Starting Light.

I’m working with clients every week who want to make big changes to their businesses. Things like: Reinvent their brand; Create a string of brilliant content campaigns; Or develop a killer converting website that increases enquiries many fold.

Most of them wanted to ensure it would be just right, first time. A one hit wonder. Get it done, off the list, on to the next one…

The difficult news. For most small businesses, working on a limited budget and tight deadline, when it comes to big goal marketing or communications projects – nobody can get it just right, first time. This isn’t defeatist. It’s the nature of the beast!

No matter how well we plan, research, theorise, even test – new market factors will occur, new customer insights will emerge, new competitor moves will be made. Sure, we know some things should work. But, there’s plenty we’re not quite sure on. And more that we just have to make educated guesses about!

How do we handle this movable feast?

We play smart and start small. A Minimal Viable Product approach. We go in open-minded, plan for failures (or incorrect assertions) and aim to learn and adapt.

In other words – we accept that effective branding, marketing, content creation is a long game. Quick wins often aren’t big wins. That’s it.

Experience has taught me that the significant success is proved over time. 80% of our clients (Recreate Design) have been on-board for 6 years or more.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Before You Start

  • Do everything with strategic purpose. Execution comes second.
  • Set a realistic budget. Then, put a big chunk aside for critical developments that you can make once the initial project is off the ground.
  • Phase items where you can. You can only sign-off on certain things (like a logo) once. However, where you can build in flex. E.g with a website – don’t try and second guess how your customers will use the site. Wait until you have that first 3-6 months of info and then build it up.

Do The Research And Thinking

  • Who is the customer?
  • What is your offer and how does this solve their problem?
  • Why is your solution special, different, better, more valuable than the rest?
  • Where do sales come from? If you don’t know, look at your competitors? In fact, know your competitors inside out.
  • Which channels are popular?
  • Think around the who, what, why, where and how objectively and honestly.

Design Clever

  • Design an end-to-end experience for the customer. This is true branding. It will definitely evolve over time. Make this end-user focus central from the off and you’re out-thinking many other small businesses from day one!
  • Work out a communication and marketing system that integrates web, social, direct, human sales. Few communications exist in isolation. Join them up.
  • Shopping list the minimal visual and verbal assets you need to get this thing looking, sounding, feeling credible.
  • Don’t over do the iterations. Three stages of development should be enough.

Review, Improve, Repeat

  • Regularly review.
  • Get qualitative as well as quantitative feedback.
  • Identify strengthens and weaknesses.
  • Try new things.

Enjoy The Ride

Seriously, if you’re genuinely offering something better and believe in what you’re doing, have fun and be inspired by what you learn. It’s more than the business that is growing!