In the midst of one of the busiest times of the year, it’s hard to find time to stop and check in with yourself. We try to prioritise reflection throughout the year at littleBIG with a Friday afternoon wrap up of the week. It’s (often) chaotic and loud but we always take the time as a team to celebrate our peaks, and learn from our pits. We thought we’d let you in on our weekly ritual and share our final wrap of the year…
Practicing what we preach
Starting the year by practicing what we preach. Agencies make the worst clients (oh yes they do), but this year we decided to treat ourselves as a client with a complete overhaul of the littleBIG brand positioning and marketing strategy. Let’s just say that this has given us far greater empathy for the process our clients go through! How do you like us now?!
This has helped us to be clear about our purpose, the kind of clients we want to work with and the kind of work we want to do. Clients who genuinely value creativity and want us to be a real part of their team; acting flexibly in whatever capacity needed to deliver their results with a smile. In this constantly evolving marketing world, that might be packaging design one day and PR the next. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to deliver for clients across so many different mediums and to literally be both little and BIG depending on our clients’ needs.
Getting our values straight
As you may have heard me say, you won’t hear us relying on the word “daaaaahling” to make our connections. We want to deliver smart, down to earth and efficient service, but most of all we want to be good people helping good businesses. In a service industry, we are our ultimate resource, and physically, mentally exhausted people don’t deliver the best results. Happy, inspired people do! This has meant saying no to projects that are beyond our capacity, or to clients that don’t share our values, and making the time to look after us and our staff. Read more about this here…
It kicked off with a heavy round of publicity efforts across a number of life-affirming and undeniably fun events including Queen Victoria Market’s Summer Night Market, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival events for Innocent Bystander and Preston Market as well as BeerFest’s national program. The PR success continued throughout the year across too many campaigns to mention but Skechers’ support of Guide Dogs Australia’s PAWGUST campaign and TalaMade’s epic Melbourne Fashion Week debut were highlights.
Our advertising and design team was kept busy creating all manner of visual collateral from new brands to packaging, tender documents, social media assets, retail signage, PR & event materials and of course national outdoor, digital and print ad campaigns including the prolific, eye-catching Canada, You Beauty! campaign for Air Canada & Destination Canada.
We welcomed a second airline to the stable, helping Malindo Air launch it’s MEL-KUL and MEL-DPS routes via the littleBIG-conceived “In the Know” integrated campaign covering: creative direction; radio and digital advertising; and a PR approach incorporating an ambassadorial arrangement, Melbourne lifestyle/travel media event, strategic pitching and an in-destination familiarisation.
Growing our social media team
Social is a key marketing tool delivering incredible results in terms of reach and advertising ROI. We’ve recognised the need to invest in this area and have bolstered the team and committed to a great deal of training. We conceived and implemented powerful social strategies for some 16 clients across the food & beverage, hospitality, retail, fashion and cause spectrums. Seeing our social KPIs consistently smashed, plus huge volumes of acclaim from online communities in the form of engagement and increased sales conversions is a massive credit to our growing social media team.
Perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of the year is just how many renewed or returning clients we’re working with. You know you’re doing something right when your clients keep coming back for more. A huge shout-out to the following clients (in no particular order!) who signed on for additional campaigns and retainers this year. We thank you and we adore working with you.
Fyna Foods/Wizz Fizz, Australian Childhood Foundation, Queen Victoria Market, Procal Dairies, Dr. Martens, Skechers, BeerFest, Muk Haircare, Driscoll’s, Food FX, Preston Market, Yowie, Innocent Bystander, Winemakers of Rutherglen, Only Mine Handmade Chocolates, Air Canada, TalaMade, DoubleTree by Hilton – Flinders Street, Endeavour Consumer Health/Red Seal, Endeavour Consumer Health/Floradix, MANRAGS, Patient Wolf and Otway Pork.
None of it would be possible without the incredible team that makes up littleBIG. I’m so proud to say that the sense of unity and dynamic achievement emanating from our office is better now than it’s ever been. I’m ever grateful to each and every littleBIGGER that contributed to this shining year.
Trying to do it all…
…led to this revelation that just like our social media strategies we need to focus on key areas, or pillars to build a well balanced life.
Look, realistically we outgrew our office some time ago. This becomes painfully clear when we’re packing seeding distributions or prepping for fashion showings. But what keeps us in Acacia Place is just how calming and inspiring it is to be surrounded by nature. Being on the banks of the Yarra, only 20 mins or so from the city is heaven. Lucky we all like each other so much that being in close quarters is (mostly) pleasant and fun, and having two great cafes as neighbours makes for excellent extra meeting and headspace quarters.
Clients who don’t share our values
We’re grateful for every client we’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. Seriously, even when it hasn’t always been smooth sailing we’ve learned invaluable lessons. But we’d be lying if we said every one of them has been the perfect fit. The clients who don’t share our values around kindness, collaboration, openness, organisation and creativity can make life tricky. This year, we’ve backed ourselves to be strong enough to say “no” as it’s not good for us, our staff or the client.
Pace and evolution of social and digital media
Adapting to the immediate requirements of changes in the marketing landscape is exhausting. Marketing tactics that worked 6 months ago are no longer relevant. That can certainly be frustrating! It’s really hard to make sure you’re putting your time and efforts into the right places all the time. Do you go for high volume of activity just to “be there” which inevitably leads to lower quality outputs? Do you wait until you’re completely ready and potentially miss opportunities to capture bulk audiences early? This fast pace causes uncertainty and indecision at times. We’ve learned to stand back, take a breath, and assess each new channel in light of our individual client objectives and brands.
That one client who owes us 10s of 1000s of $$$
Yep, a definite pit that really tested us as a business. I’m super proud that we were able to come out the other side of this financially stronger than ever before. Sadly, there are liars in business who will strategically not pay you, despite your great work. We made a huge mistake in letting their debt pile so high. A court ruled (very definitively) that 219 Swanston Pty Ltd owes us A LOT of money and we continue to pursue it. This company owns and operates Red Piggy restaurant in Melbourne CBD. I’m afraid they certainly do deserve you to know how unscrupulous their business is. However, we’ve put new processes in place and become very strict about our financial terms. So yes, another learning (albeit an expensive one).
Suppliers who let us down
You’re only as good as your team, and our suppliers are a valued extension of our team. When they don’t deliver a quality of work or product befitting the littleBIG standard, it lets us down, and worst of all, our clients. We’re implementing a more stringent reference checking and engagement policy to ensure any supplier is as good as our stellar team.
The feeling of disappointing people
I absolutely love the process of meeting potential clients, hearing about their business and their vision and applying our smarts and creativity to proposing the best path forward for them. When those potential future partners need answers from us more quickly than we can mindfully give them, it’s a terrible feeling. But we will always prioritise our engaged clients’ work first. When you’re in the family, we look after you. Most enquirers appreciate that and value it as a sign they will receive the same treatment when they’re on board, but unfortunately they don’t always have the ability to protract their timelines. We understand and we hate to disappoint!
Telling clients things they don’t want to hear
We pride ourselves on doing this but it’s not always an easy conversation. It might sound like: “This is a really sound social media strategy, but it is flatly not going to work unless you improve your website.” Or: “Your new range is really great and people will love it, but it’s not newsworthy and investing in a media relations campaign would not be the best way to market it.” We’d much rather be honest up front than undertake an expensive marketing program that’s not going to deliver against a client’s objectives. We always hope the honesty is appreciated and can work together to come up with a plan that works.
So there you go…a whopper of a year, and of a wrap! Yes, we could have just focused on all our shiny wins and news, but just as we started the year with a goal to be genuine and authentic, we’re ending it with a wrap that is just that. As business owners and marketers, I hope you can relate and take some learnings, or just solidarity from this. We’re all in this together.
Signing off for 2020 and wishing you all the happiest of festive seasons,
littleBIG Founder & Director