Strategy First: Behind the Website
Choosing an agency
A gentleman who was running a fairly new small business in Manhattan first contacted me looking to develop a new identity and website for his young service business. He did his homework and interviewed a number of creative agencies, and after numerous phone conversations, he narrowed it down to GreyBox and another agency. At the end of the day, we were not selected for the project, and lost out to a lower, but potentially less comprehensive offer.
Two years later, I received another email from him explaining that he was not happy with his website. This was certainly not the first time a startup had chosen a less costly option at first only to come back to us. In fact, many times it’s an interval of just months. Those are the lucky ones.
Put strategy first
This ambitious entrepreneur was now looking to take his website to the next level. We updated our proposal and got a quick sign-off. Before adding the project to our design schedule, I suggested that he should consider doing strategy Workshop with our brand strategy-consulting partner Tronvig Group. I thought he needed to do this upfront strategic work before he began spending any money with us on creative executional work.
After his last experience, he was all ears. He wanted to make sure that this time he “would nail it”. After an hour-long conversation with James, we were looking at our calendars to arrange a time for a workshop.
Within about two weeks, we had all the proper people in the room to do a half-day Brand Strategy Workshop. This was a small workshop that included a few employees, a trusted advisor, his attorney, and also two clients who were intimate with the business.
Leveraging this mini “brain trust” in a lively workshop, we worked with the group through a series of fundamental brand questions. In doing so, we succeeded in setting a clear strategic direction for his business and consequently for its branding and marketing initiatives.
There were several extremely valuable things that came out of this workshop that have now transformed the business: the business name was modified, a new tagline was created, and most crucially, he shed an underperforming area of his business that occupied a significant amount of time and resources, opening the door to a more efficient, effective, and profitable business.
With this strategic and operational clarity for the business and the brand, we had the guidance we needed to design and create a new corporate identity, structure, and a new website with improved content and messaging. The website now speaks directly to the business’ ideal client. It attracts that client while simultaneously repelling those that do not fit his ideal customer profile. This is very helpful for the small business owners who will only be slowed down by unqualified, undesirable, and low profit inquiries. He now possesses a far more strategic marketing tool to help build his business.
Save yourself time and money
Very rarely do I find first-time entrepreneurs who choose to make a larger initial investment, putting strategy first and spending the extra time up front to get it right. Serial entrepreneurs eventually figure out the value of doing it this way, but that comes from a lot of knowledge gained through years of experience. When a first-time entrepreneur makes that fated phone call to reengage with us, I never say “I told you so.” I’m pretty sure that the cost of doing something over again stings more than enough on its own. Those words would be the last thing I’d want to hear after precious time and money have been spent and I did not get the results I needed.
So we live and we learn.
Here is my plea: Entrepreneurs, please invest the time and money in putting strategy first so that you can get your brand execution right the first time.
The new website gives the company a foundation for success. It is more than a pretty website; it is actively serving as a marketing tool, directly supporting the sales process, and ensuring that the right prospects are walking through the door, engaging, and coming out with the right value added services.