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Why Digital Space is recommended for small businesses

Hello, it’s Scott Trevethan here from Scott Partners. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Su-Ann Len from Tiny Crowd. In this interview, we discover why digital space in marketing is recommended rather than print advertising for small businesses because aside from the fact that it is a lot cheaper to produce, there’s so much technology out there that is often free to use thus return on investment is easy.

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SCOTT: Welcome to the Small Business Heroes show, where we talk about everything to help your small business grow and prosper. I’m your host, Scott Trevethan, and today I’m talking to Su-Ann Len.

With nine years of retail agency design experience, Su-Ann understands her clients’ day-to-day stresses because she’s been there and completely gets it. After working in design agencies – that’s big and boutique – and client side, she decided to venture out on her own and create a Tiny Crowd. She adores what she does. Creative design across digital, retail, and marketing is basically a full-time hobby, and she loves it.

Welcome to the Small Business Heroes show, Su-Ann.

SU-ANN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

SCOTT: How lucky are you to have your job and you love it so much, and it’s your hobby as well?

SU-ANN: I know, I’m incredibly lucky and incredibly grateful that I get to do what I love as a job and have managed to pick up some really great clients that are part of the family.

SCOTT: That’s beautiful. I’ve given you a brief introduction; why don’t you tell our audience a little bit more about what you do and how you do it?

SU-ANN: Yeah. Tiny Crowd is a graphic design agency. We predominantly work with the marketing teams of medium to large retailers in helping them execute their marketing plan. Some of our activities we do would be email marketing design, campaign websites, catalogues, point of sale, anything the customer really sees. A small percentage of our business is also on branding and rolling out the brand across a number of touchpoints. These could be websites, business cards, brochures, email marketing. But we mainly work in the retail space.

SCOTT: That sounds awesome. What part of that, which particular aspect do you love the most?

SU-ANN: I think working in the retail space, it’s fast-moving. You immediately get to see your customer engagement. We do a lot in digital, so it’s quite transparent, and you get customer feedback pretty much instantly, which makes it easy to measure as well. And the industry moves so fast, and there’s always new technologies, there’s always new trends. So it’s really interesting to keep up with it.

And every day is different. You could easily get a phone call from a brand saying, “This product is moving slow” or “We need to do another initiative to inform the customer about this product” or “There’s been a delay in shipping, so we’ve got to hold off that, so we’ve got to change our strategy for that.” It changes every day, which makes it exciting as well.

SCOTT: For our small business retailers out there, what’s more effective, digital or point-of-sale, hard copy, or whatever you would call that type of print?

SU-ANN: For small businesses, I would recommend definitely the digital space. It’s definitely a lot cheaper to produce, and you’ll probably get more on the return on investment on that, because there’s so much technology out there that is often free which they can use. Also, it’s easy to measure, so if it’s not working, you can just switch and try something else. Whereas with print, it’s really hard to see the value that you’re getting and to see the reach, and it’s a lot more expensive.

SCOTT: Right. Do your bigger clients use print a lot? Like the letterbox, catalogue type of work that we’re talking about?

SU-ANN: No, no. A lot of businesses now are moving to digital because – you know, the retail market’s tough. Everyone is fighting for the same dollar, so a lot of budgets are getting cut. Digital is going, and I think now a lot of brands are changing printed catalogues to only their VIP customers that do spend the money, or being a bit more strategic on when you would use printed collateral, not just “Let’s just print that.” Because it’s a lot cheaper just to send out an email.

SCOTT: What’s more effective in terms of an email? Is it the copy that comes with email, or is it the offer, or is the overall design?

SU-ANN: I think with email, it’s the objective, really first and foremost. You can’t have too many messages, or else it will be more of a distraction than a call to action. And more often than not, depending on how many emails you’re sending out, it’s really going to be about more of the content. What’s the story that you’re telling that’s going to resonate with the customer, for them to want to click to the email to find out more or to make that purchase? It’s going to probably be more of an emotional attachment rather than copy or imaging. And then the copy and imagining obviously helps tell that story for the buyer, to have the buyer want to view more or buy that product.

SCOTT: Is there something that you do in your space that can somehow motivate people to click on an email, or even read a hard copy or printed ad, as opposed to if, say, I design mine myself? And if so, what is that magic?

SU-ANN: [laughs] The million dollar question. I would say it all boils down to really listening to your customers, and then measuring everything that you put out. Because essentially, every content, especially for the brands and the retailers, every content that you push out has to convert to something.

We’ve found that shorter emails tend to work, because nowadays everyone subscribes to emails, so their inbox is full. So the number one thing to look at would be your email subject line, before you even get to the email design.

And then secondly, when they do click on it, powerful imagery really works. Nowadays all the big brands do less copy, more imagery. And now the trend is less imagery and just one really big powerful one and little words. So it’s really simple and easy to digest, and it’s fast, because people have to go through their emails. And if it captures them enough, they will click on it to hopefully buy your product.

SCOTT: What about video? What’s video’s place in the electronic marketing side of things?

SU-ANN: Video is definitely becoming more of the trend. It’s a bit more expensive to produce, particularly for the bigger retailers, but they tend to be really great on like behind-the-scenes. Getting customers to really see behind the brand and the story, which then has the emotional attachment to wanting to be involved with that brand or to be on that trend. So a lot of brands use it for behind-the-scenes footage as more of a brand content awareness exercise, which then translates to a sale. Video content is also great for Instagram, YouTube, and stuff like that.

SCOTT: Fantastic. Tell me a bit about the graphic design industry. How robust is it at the moment? Is it being outsourced? Are we seeing it being disrupted much at all within Australia or in the world?

SU-ANN: Yeah, definitely. I think the graphic design industry is changing. There’s a lot of programs out there, and outsourcing is a big one. I think there’s a place for everyone. I think graphic design is a big industry, and there are so many different – like, there’s retail, there’s transport, there’s finance – there’s a lot of industries to cover, and everyone in every business needs a graphic element. I think it’s a bit of an ecosystem that we can all work together. It might be a different view for other people, but I don’t feel like it’s a competition. As long as you have your niche and you know your audience and you’re giving what the audience wants, I feel like there’s enough work for everyone.

And it really depends on the business. A small business, I totally understand, don’t have the funds to have a graphic design team. And then there’s software like Canva, which is great for them as a starting point, because they’re just starting out. And then you might find that they grow bigger and they might want more support. So I think there really is a place for everyone.

Outsourcing, there’s a place for that as well. It depends on the training. Really, I think, one tip for other business owners wanting to outsource design is having a really clear brief, because communication is so important, and that’s probably where a lot of the frustrations lie of why projects don’t turn out the way that they would like. Especially if there’s a language barrier. Unfortunately, the designers can’t read your mind, and especially when design is so subjective. There’s lots of different interpretations. So that’s one tip: be as clear as possible with your briefing, and that could eliminate a lot of problems.

SCOTT: Great advice, absolutely. I used to work in the brand area, and that was the key thing when we were communicating with an agency, was to have a very, very clearly defined creative brief so that we get the result that halfway resembles what you were trying to get.

At what stage should our small business hero owners come and see an Australian-based design agency as opposed to using Fiverr or looking for an overseas, cheaper option?

SU-ANN: I think using a local designer is great if you really want to hone in on your customers and really understand their buying behaviors, how they interact with your business. I think it might be a bit harder to outsource that because they’re not in the same location as you. There’s certain cultural differences that an outsource person might not understand. Especially if it’s a different economy situation with your customers buying from, especially if they’re in financial stress or the economy is not going well. Why would a customer buy from one brand from another? So understanding that and knowing when to be subtle and when not to be subtle, it’s probably a bit hard to outsource that. But then if you define it in the briefing and kind of give that background, hopefully the designer will understand.

But I think that probably when you want to use a local designer, when you really want that effectiveness in reaching to your customers and being really objective with what you want, I think they’ll probably have a better understanding of that.

SCOTT: Fantastic. Su-ann, thank you so much for your time today on the Small Business Heroes show. If we do have any larger retailers out there or any other people that want to just get some advice or contact you, what’s the best way that they can go about contacting you?

SU-ANN: Best way would probably be through my email. It’s [email protected], and I’m also on Linked In. If you just search for my name, Su-ann Len, I’ll come up there as well.

SCOTT: Fantastic. Su-ann Len, thank you so much once again for appearing on the Small Business Heroes show. My name’s Scott Trevethan; I’m the host here. If you’d like to find out more about the interviews that we’ve done and see some of the interviews that we’ve already got in place, please rush over to the Facebook group, Small Business Heroes.

You can also find that on our Scott Partners page on Facebook, which is Scott Partners Pty Ltd as a Facebook page, or you can go to our website, which is www.ScottPartners.com.au. I’m talking to Su-Ann Len. I’m Scott Trevethan, and you’ve been listening to the Small Business Heroes show. Thanks, Su-ann.

SU-ANN: See ya. Bye!

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