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The Shoemaker’s Children

New neighbourhood. New potential clients. No marketing material! We felt just like the shoemaker's children. As we become our own client, here's what we're learning...

You know the saying ‘the shoemaker’s children go barefoot’? Well that’s the situation we’re in right now. We’ve been so busy ‘doing’ work and managing the move to our new location that we’ve neglected our own marketing material. It doesn’t help that we’re in a business that keeps evolving every day, nor that we’ve moved twice in the last two years.

Now that we’re nearly settled in we’ve had the chance to survey our new surroundings, and we’ve realized that this part of Hamilton is teaming with businesses and professional offices. (Certainly one advantage of moving is getting to meet new neighbours!) So while we’re working on our website, and developing a mobile version of the site, we’re also working on some print material that we can take around to our new neighbours as we introduce ourselves to the ‘hood’. The experience of being our own client has taught me a few things, and reminded me of others:

Websites can’t do it all

Sounds funny coming from a web design company, but a website isn’t the only way to market your company. In our present case, we want to personally introduce ourselves to our new neighbours and leave something behind that they’ll want to read, or use. An interesting brochure (one that is focused on their needs, not our logo), post-it notes or a message pad are all good (suggestions are welcome!). Sure the website will play a role, but the underlying goal is always to develop relationships.

Listen to your staff

We’ve always lived by the policy of ‘surround yourself with people who are smarter than you’. Our staff are great — each of them excells at different things and together we make quite the team. We also have a policy of working from a central office — the design team all works together in a room we call ‘the bullpen’. It really is the best way to collabrate. All this is only lip service however if you don’t actually invite your staff into the collaborative process and then listen to what they have to say. I had thought it wise to only involve one or two of us in developing our own material, so that the others could concentrate on client work, but the work bogged down until we had a group brainstorming session. The process got an infusion of energy and new ideas and we’re all excited about the results.

There are no ‘new ideas’ — only old things done in a new way

You can spend a lot of time trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s better to do a little research on best practices — including your own experience — and do what has worked in the past… in a new way. The key here is that when you’re looking for that ‘new way’, don’t forget what has made your business unique in the first place. As your business evolves it’s easy to lose track of the unique quality that brought you success in the first place. While this quality may itself evolve over time, it rarely changes in an unrecognizable way.

So, when will you see the new shoes? At the open house! It is coming; as soon as we get our list checked off, we’re putting the invitations in the mail. In fact, the sign folks have just pulled up to install the new sign! Gotta go… but if you’re in the ‘hood’ later today, have a look at the sign at 862 Main St. E, and let me know what you think!

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