In today’s issue, I’ll analyze the most common mistake new Founders do by overthinking strategy instead of focusing on building solid basics. I'll talk about how in business and life, we are busy being busy, and we don’t take enough time to collect and organize what we see and understand the patterns.
You will understand why it's important to change your approach and start from the small details if you want to achieve big things with your brand.
Small data, details, and actions make brands big. Look for the details everyone else takes for granted.
- We think we need big data and fancy business plans.
- Although we know details are important, we only cherry-pick the nice ones instead of checking the unsexy things that make all the difference. We forget to look where nobody’s looking.
- Some things are so evident that we can’t see them, but often they’re the ones that make or break a brand.
- Our love for thinking big makes us rather rework a strategy twice than go into the details of its execution to understand what didn’t work and course-correct it.
1: focusing on fancy details while skipping the basics
When launching a brand, we want to make start with a bang. We organize a fantastic launch party. We know the need to give attention to details. We focus on what we believe is essential: a stunning location, branding details, and color guidelines. What about chilling beers? Oops. We forgot about that. The result is a great venue and a beautiful event with warm beer.
The checklist said, “beers in the fridge”. Nobody thought of placing enough fridges, switching them on, or taking care of how long it takes to chill a bottled beer. We have instead focused on fancy details, not on unsexy stuff like chilling beers for the events. Someone more junior than us will fix it, we are bigger than that. I know you are smiling because you have experienced it. The beer was warm or the organizers ran out of ice and glasses. You name it. What if we started to build brands bottom-up? What if we focused on the most basic details and built up from them?
Solution: organizing an event should start from the fridge and not from the incredible decorations that people don't care about as they are sipping a warm cocktail.
2: hiring salespeople before knowing what to focus on
Overlooking basic details goes on throughout the journey. After starting to sell, we realize that we can't do it alone, and we need a team of salespeople. The mistake is usually hiring people to scale instead of clarifying what to do first, creating a pragmatic system, testing it, and only afterward looking for scale. So we hire people as experts in something we don’t know, thinking they will know what to do.
It's not about becoming an expert in all matters but about mastering the basics to build a brand. Less fancy parties and more visits to bars to sell your brand. We should be the first ones to do the legwork.
Instead, we hire salespeople from bigger companies, without understanding what profile we really need. Are they used to working in a startup environment? Or are they more suitable for big brands? We rely on them. We think they know best. They don't.
Solution: we should learn to sell ourselves first, understand who we really need and then delegate to people we are sure to know what to do.
3: focusing on gaining new customers while losing current ones
We naturally think that selling a brand is something straightforward: we need to gain distribution and sell to many bars and restaurants. The more the better. We just tell the sales team we hired to go out there to get new customers. We recruited them from competitors. We assume they must know what to do. They have contacts and they will bring new clients in. We are so busy looking for growth, for the next new customer that we forget to check on the existing ones. We get 10 new ones but we’ve lost 5.
Solution: What about focusing on growing velocity and rate of sale in our existing customers? What about counting NET new customers instead of just new customers?
4: missing the little details when trying to increase sales
Another small detail is thinking that once we got a customer, it will keep selling. We calculate the average sales per customer without noticing that only 20% of bars make 80% of sales. When noticing that some customers don’t sell enough of our product. What do we do? Instead of visiting those bars and understanding why they don’t sell, we ask experts, agencies, and big data analysts to support us. We check if we should change the packaging and if we should change the sales team. If we should run events in bars etc. In the end, we understand the reason was that in most of those bars only 1 out of 5 bartenders knew our brand was sold there. The case of beer or spirits was hiding in the cellar and nobody cared about bringing it upstairs. After all, everyone thought it wasn't their responsibility.
Solution: are we following up after the bar received the goods? Are we sure that the whole bar staff in each venue knows about the new products listed and know how to explain them to consumers? A small detail can make a difference.
So why does this happen?
The narrative is wrong. We’ve been sold "granular", and "bottom", as negative terms.
- The narrative is wrong. We’ve been sold the idea that details and granular analysis are chores. They should be delegated to more junior people.