- Are you driven to win?
- Would you like a head start on the competition?
- Do you think you’re understood when you say something?
(and people will just ‘get it’?)
Think again, buster.
The fact is most business people, engineers and those who work in operational capacities answer YES to these questions – but results always seem to fall short of their expectations or they simply lose interest when things don’t go to plan. Sound familiar?
Perhaps it’s no doubt why on average, most small businesses make around $44k per year, clear. Makes you really think what is the point of all that hard work you put in every day. Is that juice really worth the squeeze?
In almost 20 years of advising startups, SME’s, boards and international brands (where did that time go?) I’ve found most false starts in product design and even business functions (especially social media and advertising) begin with the wrong people trying to solve communications challenges.
The problem is, it’s always from their own perspective.
- CEOs want things to move fast so they’ll try and solve ALL problems from their own perspective (not the audiences)
- Producers overthink the functional attributes of their output and are overly concerned with what their industry peers think
- Accountants and finance professionals should never be asked to make a product decision (that’s why Xero was actually made by software designers – not accountants!)
While making tweaks and directing communications visually or otherwise appeases their own subjective goals, the reality is that they are ill-equipped to go to battle in a competitive marketplace.
That’s like commanding an army to go to war and expecting to win, when your only experience in war is seeing a movie. Or even worse – just hoping you’ll win. Crazy, right?
Tweaking an idea is not a strategy. Hope is not a strategy. Even the product alone is not a strategy.
Campaigning however; military, political, marketing or otherwise is a strategy – and the funniest part of this, is that it has absolutely nothing to do with you!
If you’re complaining, start campaigning.
We’re your campaign strategists – we give you fresh eyes, with the benefit of professional marketing mindests – that is, we are always aware of trends, how consumers behave and the triggers we need to pull to ensure you get a response and also establish a strong hold position in your market. If that doesn’t sound like war, I don’t know what does!
Think about this – you go to war every day, but ask your partner/friend/colleague/mother what they think of a new weapon that was just custom produced to solve a very specific challenge. Are they THE representative for the intended audience? Probably not. Are they aware of all of the context that goes into that decision and the difference between weapon choices? That’s no too. Are they going to be responsible for the results? Definitely not. But we are.
People seem to think marketing is fun. And I get it – some creative is funny. Add to that, there are tools that put power in the hands of children – but does that mean you should hand your assistant/nephew/general manager/’sons friend who as 20k followers on tiktok’ a missile launcher? Perhaps let’s think about this before they start playing with the buttons.
Ok – so we don’t have a strong strategy. What should we do?
Understanding the weapons we use is a good start. It will help you realise why people too close to the money, operation or product are often the worst people to direct design and communications – especially when you’re up against professional product designers, strategists and marketers who lead the battle for your competitors.
The art in our craft is psychologically affecting people. Trends don’t just happen – they are manufactured. And there is a science to this. (Just Google Psychological Biases).
While we’d all like to think that we will be rewarded for doing something – the reality is – most products fail; because as humans, we tend to live in an ‘ideal world’ where organic pursuits are celebrated internally (usually because they are cheap, free or just the best we could do at the time) but when viewed externally, a whole lot of context and experience is missing.
Good products start with storytelling; here’s some examples for a beer write up:
|Skill level||Audience Reaction|
(Weakest – least memorable)This beer has pine flavours and is refreshing, which makes it good for enjoying in the sun this Christmas.
|Low Level. Your everyday person can write like this as it doesn’t require much imagination.||Has not earned attention, so quickly forgotten. No brand tone, so you must have a big campaign that inspires people to at least look at you.|
(Ok, kinda forgettable)With crisp pine aromas, this beer tastes like Christmas, with all the trimmings.
|Mid-level. Some expression beyond just the direct tangible nature of the product.||Requires priming beyond the product purchasing experience to sell brand tone.|
(Best – most memorable)(This is) Santa on Christmas eve dropping a crisp pine flavour grenade under the tree. Naughty just got nice. Merry Christmas motherfucker.
|Professional Marketer. It builds imagery in the mind and leaves a lasting impression.||An experience. Worthy of remarking about. Demonstrates brand. Requires less priming.|
The power of association OR being purposefully subversive in communication is a strategic weapon. We don’t just appeal to people’s emotions, we compel them not to forget – and furthermore earn an ability for it to be remarked on.
Pro tip: Don’t say what it is, make them feel something it’s not.
Sounds backwards – but those that get it, get results.
What’s even more hilarious are the reasons for why people don’t do this:
It’s too expensive
It’s actually cheaper! A small investment in professional product development in the beginning = price stability over the long term. If you’re having to discount or provide sale prices on anything – perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy (or staff!)
I know what I like
If what you like is dwindling interest in your brand, don’t worry – there’s plenty of others that will gladly do what you won’t, so they can live like you can’t. (Remember you’re up against professional campaigners – don’t underestimate your competition).
It doesn’t sound like me / sounds like there is an agency working on it
Unless you’re famous, nobody cares. In fact, studies show that using professional agencies and copywriters actually signals to your customers that you have business stability and are growing! (In other words, trust!)
We just need to get to market (aka, we need this yesterday!)
Try taking unripe fruit to the market and expect people to pay full price for it. What’s worse, is getting a reputation as a producer or brand that consistently does this. Leave it to the pros, and you’ll look pro too.
We live in a world where we buy into the perception, not the reality. We’ll leave you to work on the reality of living up to the promise of being a good business that delivers your service. But when it comes to perception, that’s where we come in.
The old adage is true – fail to plan, plan to fail. So before you jump ahead and try to create something – let’s chat about it first. We’ll make you aware of your shortfalls straight up. Think of us like your best friend that isn’t going to let you walk out of the house looking like crap.
There is a difference between running a business and creating a brand – and it all comes down to shedding the need to appease everyone else, and yourself.
Your hype man,
Ps. Did you know that most small businesses only make $44k per year, but consistent presentation of a brand has seen to increase revenue by 33 percent!
And being unique in your approach has the capability to increase your revenue by upwards of 50% and decrease your media investment by actually earning free press! (and that’s something money can’t buy!)