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Sunday Soundbite

How to make sure your great retail tech story stays alight

Chris Field
Chris Field

Somehow, between the founder and the website, something gets lost in translation. We sit down with the founder and are, most of the time, blown away by the scale of their ambition, the uniqueness of their technology, and by their view of how retail is and will change over the next couple of years.

And then we look at the website. What happened? The excitement and the joy have slipped away and been washed away in a flood of team input, agency creativity, development disconnection and SEO regulation.

It was ever thus; read the Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and you will feel your earlier self returning in a flood of angst and anger at the injustice in the world. But then you will think about what happens when human beings get together to act, and you will quickly see why the world is as it is.

And, microcosmically, it is so with tech companies. Keeping the flame alive through the barrages of language, channels and bought-in expertise en route to ‘go live’, is tough and few websites express the excitement of what made the company start in the first place.

Here are six ways to burst your own bubble and make sure your tech brand stays alight

  • Get back to the garden – Check back in with the founders, now, continuously and often. Some founders notoriously change the story on the fly, so watch for that, but otherwise, try to get back to the source. Tech brands are generally not good at this. Consumer goods brands however are, so use them as your role models.
  • Build your website quickly – Long projects are death to creativity. Sure, you want to get it right but better to build fast, abandon and start again than persist with a fluffy kitten that turns into a three-headed ogre with crooked teeth.
  • Learn how to be very good at social media – Learn all the rules and techniques, and then break them. Digital marketing quickly becomes a zero-sum game once we are all doing it well.
  • Analyse the market and the competition more thoroughly – I know that the advice is not to get distracted by what your competitors are up to, but if SEO is driving prospects to several web sites that are all basically the same, how will you stand out? Finding and sustaining your difference has never been harder.
  • Stop being a narcissist – Just because you look in the mirror every morning and think how lovely you look, don’t assume anyone else will. Personal vanity can of course be cured by a good dose of counselling; corporate vanity however can only be cured through bankruptcy or a fire sale.
  • Don’t take any shit from anyone – Time is not on your side, which means that it takes too long to make a market when the market keeps changing. If you are on the cliff edge of a decision, listen to the one voice in the crowd below who shouts, jump you f**ker, jump.
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