You're probably supposed to publish your "looking forward to in 2019" post a little earlier in the year. Oh well, better late than never. 2018 was our first year in business, and if you've ever started a business, you know that means we learned a lot. In the next 1198 words, I want to recap what we learned and share what we're most looking forward to in 2019.
3 Lessons from 2018
1. Everyone has a story. A lot of people aren't sure how to tell it.
As you begin to talk to people and ask about who they are, you hear their story. Their real, genuine, authentic, vulnerable story. Sure, we sugarcoat it and make it sound better (or worse) in certain areas, but overall, we tend to get the real story.
When you talk to businesses, though, that's not the case. When you ask businesses what they do, you start to hear things like:
"We're the world's best…" and they only operate in one city.
"Well, we do a whole lot of things. It's kind of hard to break it down."
A whole lot of jargon that just doesn't mean much to anyone.
And at the end of the day, a majority of the answers leave you uninspired, bored, or confused.
It's not because there's not a story, it's just because most people haven't spent the time understanding and deciding how they'll tell it. Yes, like an actual discipline. It's important to go through an exercise to pull out your story, simplify it, and craft it in such a way that your entire organization can say exactly what you do.
As a media company, storyboarding is a regular part of our business process. We write and mock-up entire videos before they happen so that we know exactly what we're going for and can envision what the end product should look like.
But we also need to do this with our brand.
We've adopted methods straight from Donald Miller's StoryBrand exercise in working with our clients, and if you haven't read his book Building a StoryBrand yet, I 10/10 recommend giving it a few hours of your time. Whether you're a startup, local business or nonprofit, it will so help you clarify your message (just like the subtitle says).
2. Hypothesize. Test. Pivot. X100
I come from a technical background. My undergraduate degree is in Management Information Systems, so a large majority of my studying was spent behind a computer.
Information Systems majors also spend a lot of time planning. We plan how IT systems should be designed, who should be involved, what roles and security permissions users should have, and so much more. For an MIS major, planning is important.
In marketing, though, planning is overrated.
Before you think that's just a young or ignorant statement, hear me out.
Should you plan your message? Absolutely.
Should you plan your medium? Absolutely.
Should you grind out a failing campaign because "you just don't have enough data yet?" No no no no no no no.
The foundation of marketing today is about trying, evaluating the data, and trying again. Test anything. Test everything. Building a super robust plan and sticking to it only because you made a super robust plan just won't win in the most crowded messaging market the world has ever had. You have to Hypothesize (plan), Test (or experiment) and Pivot (try again). (I also stole the Hypothesize. Test. Pivot. Framework from Gabriel Weingberg in the awesome book he co-authored, Traction.)
3. Scope creep is a very very very real thing.
Scope creep defined - Scope creep in project management refers to changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.
As an agency, we learned very quickly about the power of scope creep. It doesn't take long before the:
"Oh, while we have you here…"
"Do you think you could also…"
"Would you be able to produce another 2-3 versions of this…"
Start to creep in.
But this isn't just unique to agencies. All organizations have projects they want to implement and get done. If you don't clearly set deadline, objectives, and boundaries, then scope creep will set in.
And the worst part about scope creep isn't just that it can overwhelm and frustrate those working on the project, but more importantly, you're most likely going to do a worse job on the original objective.
If you're a project manager or an agency, be on the lookout for the ever-widening scope of a project, and set and remind everyone of healthy boundaries for the project.
If you're on the receiving end of a project, know that every request to expand the reach of the project without an extended deadline or more funds can not only damage morale, but will more than likely hurt the original project you had in mind as well.
What 2019 Has in Store
If you made it this far, you're probably getting tired by now, so I'll keep this brief. Here's the recap of our 2019 kick-off meeting and what we're looking forward to in 2019.
1. Systems. Systems. Systems.
From our planning to our follow-up to finances, we're focused on systems this year. Consistency across mediums, platforms, and clients is crucial to the long-term success and value of how we help teams discover and capture their story, so we're focusing on systems in all areas of our work.
2. Video And Then Some
We love video. Video is at our heart and soul, it's what we're best at, and we love the way you can communicate what you do and who you are through video rather than text, images, audio, or any combination thereof. But with all of that said, a video on it's own, is, well, just a video. If you don't have systems in place to recognize the value of a video (i.e. a conference, email marketing, a well-designed landing page, an active social media presence etc.), then you likely won't see the value of the video. That's why we're doing more than video in 2019. We want to use our expertise to make sure our clients have well supported campaigns set up across a variety of media, and that the story they tell is used in a way that gets them the results they desire. Here's a little bit more on what all we're doing in 2019.
3. Not a Million Clients
Some agencies want to built an enormous client list. Some can do a great job at that, but that's not our goal. We'd rather come on board with our clients and be a part of their team for as long as they need to meet their goals. At times, that may even take saying no to new projects, and we're totally comfortable with that. Relationship building and delivering great end results are our top priorities, and we will never sacrifice quality for quantity.
New systems, a variety of marketing services, and quality over quantity means that 2019 should be an incredible year. Here's to a second year of capturing stories that leave a lasting impression.
If you want to be a part of the journey in 2019, you can get in touch with us here.