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February 04, 2013

Our Story, Part 4: Defining Process

February 04, 2013

Our (evolving) process

This is where we get a little granular.

A great process must strike that delicate balance between creativity and focus. We strive to provide unique and exciting solutions for our clients, but we must also deliver great, measurable results. Our processes must be tested and proven, but we also must be lean and flexible to pivot for diverse situations and client needs.

We often compare process to learning how to play a song. You can't improvise until you've learned how it goes.

Bottom line, we want to help our clients grow. This often includes building and marketing websites. We are a web marketing agency after all! But we always begin with understanding an organization's purpose. Why are you in business? What gets you up in the morning? What are you passionate about? As Simon Sinek wisely put it, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." We couldn't agree more.

Our process at SmallBox has four overlapping phases:

  1. Discovery
  2. Strategy
  3. Production
  4. Promotion

1. Discovery

Our process al​ways starts with why. At the start of a new engagement, we seek to articulate the “why” behind the organization, not just their product or service. Although it's important to understand the "what," we dig deeper.  We want to fully understand why companies do what they do, and then collaborate with them on solutions that serve that purpose.

This is why we begin every relationship with a North Star session. We have built a tested set of exercises (don't worry, not physical ones) to help our clients articulate the purpose and passions that drive them — why they get up in the morning. We then move to interviewing key stakeholders, conducting audience research and more, depending on the project. The insights gained inform strategy and recommendations and begin to tell a story.

All discovery sessions, often along with additional custom research, will inform a project roadmap that identifies high-level insights and findings about a client's business, culture, website, marketing, etc., as well as a statement of work for next steps. If we aren't the right fit for your project we'll let you know, and we likely know someone who is and are happy to recommend and make connections for you.

2. Strategy

Depending on where the discovery work lands, we collaborate with our clients and key team members to develop a more in-depth, comprehensive strategy that can be drawn from at any time. For our design and website projects, this can result in various planning documents, including a recommended site map, wireframes, content outlines, editorial calendars and style guides. These plans will help all project stakeholders understand the specific solutions being recommended and the framework for executing and implementing them.

For some clients, we dive deeper into the inner workings of their organization, sculpting an actionable plan for growth and improvement. We call this process “building the strategic house." A strategic house includes identifying core values, strategic pillars, one year goals, your rallying cry (ours is "Make every page count!"), as well as the organizational North Star (i.e. purpose, mission & vision), which is usually defined during the Discovery phase.

3. Production

Now comes the fun part — building stuff! Actually all the parts are pretty fun but it's great to see all the work come alive. In the production phase, we design and develop all of those great ideas and solutions we identified in the discovery and strategy phases. Often it includes a new website or web marketing campaign, while for some clients we dig into organizational health issues and consult on business operations and culture building opportunities, helping them create brand ambassadors within their organization.

Regardless of the type of client, the solution oftens includes a combination of several elements — what we call a digital ecosystem — that works in tandem to achieve your organizational goals. With every solution we create, we're driven, as we have been since the founding of SmallBox, to create owner and user friendly solutions, giving our clients easy to use tools that will enable their continued growth.

4. Promotion

Once we've built it, whatever 'it' may be, we work on attracting your audience(s). Whether we’re training you to master social media, building comprehensive and thoughtful ad campaigns through search and social media, or pursuing PR and blogging opportunities, this phase is all about promoting you and what you’re doing!

The best part? It's all measurable. Yup, everything! The fact that you are reading this page? Yup, measurable. We can even measure stuff like: how long you stay on this page, where you go from here, whether you decide to contact us or follow us on Twitter and more. Every solution we build is tested and measured. Why? So that we can use the insights to refine, test again, measure again, refine again, and so on. Our ideal is to fine-tune every thing we create until it is an effective, successful solution that gets results.


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