Things have been really crazy at the office the last couple of weeks. It took me a while to catch up after being away after the passing of my father; also we are smack dab in the middle of Holiday plans right now; and I’m trying to wrap up some big projects before moving into a new role (still at Best Buy) toward the end of the month. But one of the things that I’ve really been enjoying lately is some work that basically takes my day job and flips it on its head.
During the past year-and-a-half, my wife has taken her enthusiasm for photography and has been working to turn it into a fully fledged business. (You can check it out here: Shuttersmack.com.) After putting in a bunch of sweat equity, she’s had a successful summer on the wedding side of things and is looking to broaden her reach. That’s where I fit in. Since I do the marketing thing for my day job, I offered to lend a hand and help her think about a marketing plan for 2012. Leslie has done an awesome job at building the business and garnering clients through word-of-mouth; I have no desire to change what’s worked. But we figured that two heads are better than one on this; plus as she puts it, she likes “having people.”
Of course I want her business to succeed, but I’ll admit that this isn’t totally a selfless act. So far it’s been a good experience for me professionally as well. I think that by working as a start-up marketer for her small business it will actually make me better in my day job and challenge the way that I think about my current role at Best Buy. In fact, it already has.
Instead of dealing with marketing budgets that are seven digits, I now have a budget that is three digits in size. (Or maybe even four digits in size if it makes sense.) Instead of focusing my attention nationally (as I do in my “normal” job), I now have to focus locally – and when I say local I mean neighborhood local. And instead of working with dedicated teams that are specialized in media planning, creative, measurement, social media or you name it, I now get to wear hats across multiple disciplines.
Annual planning for Shuttermack in 2012 has already begun and is in full swing. I’ve already created my first draft of the marketing plan for the business, and we’ve already made some decisions on where to invest our advertising dollars. It’s also been a bit of a learning curve in our work styles. Leslie thinks that at times I’m a bit too corporate in how I am approaching things – like why I insist on making the marketing plan fit on a one-page PowerPoint template. (I know, I know, but I just can’t help it sometimes.)
So far it’s been a lot of fun to take this on. Plus it’s reminded me of some principles that I think are true for a brand or marketer at any firm. Things such as why it is important be clear about what you stand for. Or why you need to be on point and consistent with your messages. Or how important it is to understand that solid marketing plans are thoroughly vetted and built by understanding the importance of trade-offs. These are all things that are very important to a business, and they should continue to be important regardless of your budget size – small or large.
We’ll see how this turns out once the new year kicks into gear – I’m excited to see it come to life. And to see how it goes when I stop playing Goliath and get to play David for a change.