This Won't Hurt a Bit


How to make a digital marketing project go well...

We’ve all worked on projects that went amazingly well — timelines were met, results were brilliant, everyone was happy at the end. And then there was the time that… no, we still can’t talk about that one.

Knowing that we all prefer the first kind of projects, here are some ways to make sure that that’s what you get from your digital media agency.

1. Know what you want… and what you need.

These can often be entirely different things. Start by considering two complementary things:

  • Why am I building this site?
  • (What goals are you trying to achieve with this project, not just for now, but also for the future?)
  • For whom am I building this site?
  • (Who are your customers, and what do they need?)

What you want for yourself is not always the best thing for your customers, and that’s really, truly who the site is for. So step outside yourself, and think about what your customers — be they buyers, donors, followers — need in order to act in the way that achieves your goals, whether that’s increasing awareness of your organization and its mission, hitting sales or donation targets, or beginning your bid for world domination. (Bwah-ha-ha.)

2. Know who should be involved.

Who is responsible for the project at your end? Who is making the decisions? Is the decision-maker part of the team that’s responsible for the project? (If the answer is no, you already have a problem.) Who has the time to dedicate to the project and understand it well enough to make decisions? And while the agency’s account manager or digital strategist guiding you should be able to translate much of the technical “stuff” well enough for anyone to understand, does your team include someone who can understand the more technical details of the project?

3. Know what you’re good at.

You’re good at what you do. And you chose your agency because they’re good at what they do. Part of what makes an agency good is a good process, starting with an intensive discovery phase — during which they will build an understanding of your organization, culture, audience and goals — and they won’t start working until they “get” you.

Your first role in the process is to share as much as you can in this discovery stage, so that you’re comfortable letting go and letting your agency take over. That means trusting that your agency has what they need to make you look good, including the copy. (Never underestimate how long the writing can take.) When you let your agency run with the work, you can go back to focusing on what you do best.

4. Know the timelines.

The late Douglas Adams said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” But we don’t want them to whoosh by, we all want them to be met, painlessly and joyfully. So set your deadlines in conjunction with your agency, taking into consideration your other commitments and deadlines.

That said, even the best laid plans can go awry. If this happens to you, let the agency folks know what’s happening, so that they can adjust their timelines and workflow accordingly; the sooner they know, the smoother they can make the adjustment.

So there you have it. Four things you gotta do to make a project go well. Just four things, but they do require thought and reflection on your part. If you’ve got comments from your experience, please share — we’d love to learn from your triumphs (or cautionary tales).

Oh, and one last thing — think of this as the bonus fifth thing: Your logo doesn’t need to be any bigger.* It’s beautiful, and it’s just the right size. Honest.

*We’ll be discussing this Controversial Statement with rtraction’s Graphic Designer Guys in an upcoming post…

P.S. If you’re a Canadian artist or arts organization, the information in this post could be useful if you’re the successful applicant for our new Arts Grant, $25,000 of digital marketing services. Just sayin’.