Why the hell do designers always want to know my strategy?

I once sat with a client who said; “So what’s the big deal with strategy and why do designers, marketers, web-developers all ask me for one? I just want to make sales – make it happen! Sure, you wanna do things smarter, but I just want to make sales… why do I need a flowery vision to make sales?” At the time my answer was less patient and understanding as it would be now. The answer has the potential to be quite complex and full of amazing marketing jargon and overloaded with details, but here’s my best analogy.

A nine-year old boy, a keen athlete and a young mother all walk into a bike shop and all of them ask for a bike. The shop attendant, with no further consultation, hands all three customers the same bike – 21” wheels, one fixed gear, pedal brakes, big padded seat and a daisy decorated woven basket on the front handlebars – because it provides the shop with the best profit margin. Is it a bike? Yes. Is it useful? To some, but certainly not all three. Is it worth their money? No… two of them were ripped off too.

Ok, so hopefully we never encounter a shop attendant with so little attention to detail or concern for the customers, but I am sure you get the idea. A simple approach for this attendant would be to find out what the customer needs the bike for and is hoping to do with it – that is strategy. A better reply from the shop attendant would be; “what do you want to be using the bike for and how much do you want to spend?”. Ideally, the ensuing conversation will elicit enough detail for the shop attendant to provide the ideal or close-to-perfect solution for each customer. Is the customer happy? My goodness they are! Is it useful? Very. Is it worth their money? They love it, it’s more than worth it.

Sure, the young boy may have liked a racing bike, but he definitely didn’t have the money for it. The little boys bike was too small for the mother or athlete and the mothers bike was too big for the boy and too slow for the athlete. There is never a one-size fits all solution for your branding, marketing and marketing tools.

When a designer, marketer, or anyone trying to help you move your business forward, is asking you about your strategy don’t become overwhelmed with the fear of not having it all sorted. Start with what you want to achieve with your business, where you want it go and what you want to do… and be honest. You will find that this kind of dialogue can help you to build far more efficient and useful mechanisms to further your business.

Think of your advertising / website / social media as tools to aide in compiling the perfect bike for you. It can be difficult to be transparent about your business goals, but with enough transparent dialogue you will very quickly find that there is a strategy to suit you. So plan ahead and think long-term as there are so many little developments you can make now that will make your future transitions smoother. Most software and advertising and marketing strategies also come with scalable, expandable and adaptable options.

It is important to regularly re-asses your strategy as your business grows and changes. What works this year may be second-rate or insufficient in 6 months. If you would like to begin the conversation about strategy, or you are hoping to give yours a health check, drop us a line at info@nuancebranding.com and we would love to help you out.

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