Five tips for working with small businesses

Generally, by the time we work with small businesses, they’ve survived early development, have a strong sense of who they are, and are ready take their marketing and branding seriously. This is never more true than with small businesses in the fashion industry. But how is working with these types of clients different to others? Here are five tips that worked for us with local fashion businesses, Soul Society and White Rabbit Days.

Before we get cracking, here’s some White Rabbit Days fabulousness:

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1. Listen

While these clients have lived their brand since they were brave enough to go out on their own, they generally haven’t been asked to articulate it formally, so discussing business plans and marketing strategy is often a first foray into outlining strategy. Our workshops have proved valuable in these situations by giving the client clarity and strategy to build on, and by giving us insight into the business.

It’s only by really listening that you can get a sense of what makes the business different. And, in the end, that’s the story you need to tell.

2. Figure out what they need from you

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Rather figure out why they came to you. For instance, Soul Society already had a great website and really strong branding. What they needed from us was help telling their story, which is exactly what we did for them.

3. Evoke the juice

Find out what makes the brand you’re working with special and communicate that. For instance, Helen, the designer behind White Rabbit has a really animated way of speaking – making up words and cracking jokes all the time – and we used that sensibility across the copy in the website. For example, the name White Rabbit Days comes from the way Helen used to explore a new city with friends on her travels.

You pick a direction, choose a road, a door, jump on a bus; follow the white rabbit (in a non-druggie way) and see where it takes you, what treasures you find, who you meet and where you end up.

4. Be flexible

Small businesses have particular pressures. Often the person you’re liaising with is also responsible for many other things like manufacturing, distribution and accounts. They’re juggling problems and opportunities all the time and this means that you might not have direct access all the time. Once you can arrange it, however, you can make decisions with the client very quickly.

Cash flow is another things that can be difficult for small businesses. Being flexible is crucial to being able to have a good working relationship.

5. Stay in touch

You never know where these businesses are going and who they’re connected to. Every big business was once small – stay in touch and who knows where they might take you!

Here’s some Soul Society fabulousness:

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Select a brand to go to their Facebook page:

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