We’ve met many a potential client who put the cart before the horse. They needed to further refine their brand, create a marketing plan, and do up all new business marketing material–think brochures, spec sheets, and anything else you’d put in a media kit or hand to potential customers hanging out around your trade show booth. And they wanted these marketing materials to be done before everything else, which is a horrible approach.
As an entrepreneur, I totally get why they didn’t want to dive right in. Complete rebranding, new web content, a fresh marketing plan, and new initiatives to drive inbound marketing can be a sizable expense. And it’s quite the endeavor–they don’t even know if they’ll like working with Team Impressa yet. A smaller, more affordable starter project makes sense. But that’s not the right one.
There’s nothing to go on
And if there is something to go on, it’s probably not quite right.
We did take on one of these gigs back in the day. The business owner wanted his brochures redone ASAP. He was hiring new salespeople and wanted them to have something to hand out to leads, and his current brochure supply was almost all tapped out.
I tried to get him to let us lay out a brand blueprint and a style guide before we got down to business. He didn’t bite. Then I suggested we at least update the website copy first, and he didn’t relent. So we were left with a very amateurish brochure mock up that he provided, his suggestions (which flew in the face of best practices) and were told the info we would need would be on the website.
Using his mock up and the website, we drafted something compelling, in line with best practices, and pretty dang attractive. And the client hated it, mainly because what we had written in the brochure was wrong… because his website was out of date! Everything we had in the document was incorrect.
It’s all about to change
If that client’s website content was current, it wouldn’t have been a good scene anyway. Whatever is on that site was all about to change!
It’s very rare that a client who hasn’t worked with a consultant and doesn’t have a marketing background themselves manages to nail their brand. The voice, tone, mission statement, values, differentiators, and whatnot are often based on what sounded good to the business owner and on what they like… or on what they think folks would like. It’s often arbitrary and inconsistent, and when we get our hands on the brand, it’s all going to change.
Depending on the scope of the engagement, our clients may even be looking at a new logo by the time we’re done. And even though it may be an ambitious project, we will be done soon enough. And then they will have boxes of business marketing materials that became obsolete very quickly, which they can either keep using and dilute their brand or toss into the nearest recycling bin.
There are better ways to begin
I tend to like starting out with a small consulting project to either create the brand blueprint or evaluate the client’s current content marketing strategy. And even a small blogging package is better than investing time, effort, and funds into printed business marketing material that should end up going to waste as soon as any branding efforts have begun.
But I do get it. You have sales people going out there, shows to attend, and networking to do. You want something in your hand that puts your best foot forward, and shiny new brochures or spec sheets seem like the answer. But regardless of how good the text reads and how crisp the images are, they won’t get you the results you’d see if those were produced after you’ve actually defined and refined your brand.