Roadmap to Leaving Your Corporate Job and Starting a Creative Business Part 4

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork and have a unique product that your customers want, you are ready to launch. So what does ‘launching a product’ entail and how do you make the most of this challenge?

In my experience, the most successful launches are the ones that have been well thought out in advance. A launch should be seen as merely optimizing the results of the hard work you have been doing through the time leading up to it. As a creative product designer, here are my top strategies for launch:

  1. Your network: Take advantage of the network you’ve been building for the last 1 year (see part 1 of this series) and announce in-person and over email that you are launching your product on a specific date. Make sure to remind people of the need your product fills or the solution it brings. This will make it easier for them to talk about you. Make this communication as personable as possible (stay away from formal PR release style of communication). Give these people a link to pre-signup to get further information and start building your list (if you haven’t already been doing it). At Madesmith, we use Kickoff Labs to create well-designed sign-up pages.
  2. Bloggers: A few weeks before the launch, reach out to influential bloggers (large and small) in your industry, and send them a nicely crafted physical package (before sending, ask them if it’s okay), or an email. Make sure to describe why your product is different, how it fits their audience and their blog, and why they would want to talk about it. Remember, all bloggers are looking for quality content. You don’t have to sound like they are doing you a favor, rather focus on how this can be mutually beneficial. Always, make sure that you are reaching out to blogs whose readers might be your target customers. If a large blogger is interested in your product and company, perhaps you can offer them exclusive launch coverage. Make sure to include information about yourself, your story, your vision, high resolution images and other highlights of your product in order to make the bloggers life easy. Again, refrain from sending them lookbooks, and formal press releases. They can come across as impersonal and old fashioned. It’s okay to nudge the blogger if you haven’t heard back in a few days. But, don’t be pushy and make sure to be very polite.
  3. Social Media: Start getting your followers ready for the launch. Share behind the scenes with them at least a few days before. You could also offer your existing followers additional benefits for early sign up. Create your own buzz and give them interesting angles to talk about with their friends. For example, since our story launches include extensive photography, we post behind the scenes photos to ourInstagram. Our community loves seeing these un-edited glimpses.
  4. Referral program: A well thought out referral program is extremely efficient and can increase your sales exponentially. Some good examples of a good referral program include Everlane, Dropbox, and Airbnb. Make sure that your referral program is simple and really worth the effort for the users. It should get them super excited and provide enough value to them that they are willing to risk their digital reputation to share it with their networks.

What Andy Murray Teaches Agencies About Client Partnerships

The dream team is back. With coach Ivan Lendl once again by his side, Andy Murray was crowned Wimbledon champion for the second time this Sunday.

Despite parting from Murray in 2014, Lendl had been drafted in to turbocharge the tournament alongside Murray’s permanent coach Jamie Delgado. It’s anticipated Lendl will then assume his previous part-time arrangement of working with the tennis star for 20 to 25 weeks a year.

Agencies, which are themselves expert support teams for brands, have much to learn from Murray’s exceptionally high standards and lively approach to maintaining his own coaching squad.

With agencies under pressure to perform with greater speed, agility and commercial acumen, while achieving award-winning levels of creativity and innovation, traditional client-agency relationships no longer work. Instead of being left to it for weeks on end until they crack the brief, agencies need to become challengers and evolve their offerings at breakneck speed to ensure clients receive agile creativity.

This is because clients are struggling to keep pace with what consumers want. Brand lifespans have contracted from 61 years in 1959 to just 18 years today, according to Yale University’s Richard Foster. Dot-coms are planning their tenure around 10 years at most.

A recent study from creative agency Southpaw also found some of the biggest grocery brands of recent times, including Cadbury’s, Birds Eye and Heinz, have become on average 10% less relevant to consumers in the past five years. This figure might seem small, but its impact on global revenue will be colossal.

This is something that can be seen in every sector. We only need look at BHS and Austin Reed to understand what can happen to even the most monolithic retailers if they don’t keep up with the times.

The Creative Staff of the Future

The New Way Will Require New Skills
The rules of marketing were etched in stone long ago.

Rule 1: “Mass communications – ads – are the way to define a brand’s character and create an emotional connection with consumers.”

Rule 2: “Promotions and shopper messaging are used only to compel consumers to act in a way that brings that brand into their lives.”

But it’s 2016, and people have more control over when and how they receive brand messages. This makes consumer interaction with brands rare and precious. Consumers also have higher expectations of brands. They want transparency, convenience and relevant engagement – not a sales pitch.

Things have changed a lot, but there are big opportunities for the brands that get the next step right. It starts with smashing those stone tablets and bringing down the walls that have separated marketing disciplines. And then it’s time to rebuild, in a new way.

Dear Instagram, We Hate The Stupid Algorithm

It’s dumb, it’s wrong, it’s counterproductive, it’s rude, it’s frustrating, it’s confusing, it’s downright evil. All these things and a lot more can be said about a stupid algorithm created by really smart people.

That’s just it, the Instagram executives are too smart for their own good. They think they’re helping us and their financial bottom line at the same time by having the algorithm only show us what they think we want to see.

What they failed to remember is that the number one most functionally amazing technology ever created to tell Instagram with extreme accuracy what I want to see in chronological order is the follow button!

The follow button was masterfully crafted with 100 percent accuracy to show users only what they want to see in their feed.

The other aspect that these extremely book smart—but clearly not street smart—IG executives failed to realize when deciding what posts are most relevant to show us, based on our previous engagement with accounts, is that there’s lots of accounts that we’re forced to engage with for political reasons—like if my nephew, mother-in-law or co-worker posts something, I’m obligated to “like” it.

On the flip side of that, I’m never going to like an @anacheri photo because it’s too sexy and my wife would be infuriated, and I’m never going to comment on @danbilzerian’s exploits on his page in fear of getting in trouble as well.

But it obviously doesn’t mean that i don’t wanna see Ana and Dan’s posts just because I don’t engage with them. It’s far from that! I’m on Instagram to get a rush of endorphins to feel good, so I’d much rather see their entertaining content than my cousin’s dinner salad.

But with the way the algorithm works, I may never get those endorphins because it may push those pages way down in my feed or completely ignore them, all at the algorithm’s discretion.

Note: just because I never “like” my competitors page doesn’t mean I don’t wanna see what the restaurant owner across the street is posting in real time. It’s an easy way to stay on top of their marketing and specials.