Are you ready to hire someone to help you with your small business marketing, a new design project, or a new website, but aren’t sure you’re ready to hand over the reins to someone new? We get it. Your small business is your baby. You’ve poured countless hours into it to get it to where it is now. Your hard work is the reason your business exists.

It’s scary to hand over your brand — the face of your company — over to someone new. Even when you know you need to pull in some experts to get the quality look and messaging you need, it can be hard to imagine that a stranger will be able to understand your needs and deliver what you want.

We’ve worked with so many small business owners who have specific visions for their brands or other projects, but struggle to communicate that vision to their design team. While we do our own research and get to know the industry and buyer personas to ensure we’re communicating effectively, we also want to make sure we’re making YOU happy!

The last thing you (and we) want is for you to be disappointed by the final delivery. You’re going to have to live with your brand and see it every day, so you better like it! While designers are pros at turning a verbal request into a visual tool, they are not mind readers — and there can be a lot of different ways to solve the same problem.

That’s why we send our clients a questionnaire in addition to meeting with them and getting to know them personally. Our questionnaire includes things like:


“What problems are you hoping Northbound can help you solve?”

“What is your mission statement?”

“Who is your target audience?”


If your design team doesn’t ask you these questions, you need to be proactive and make sure they’re understanding you. Here are some tips for communicating with your design or marketing team to make sure you’re getting what you want.


Describe the problem that you’re trying to solve by working with them.


That can be anything from “my brand is outdated and I want to reach younger audiences” to “I get so busy on weekends, but am too slow during the week.” Once we know the problem you’re trying to solve, we can offer advice on how to solve it.

If you come to your team and say something like “I want a brochure,” you’re not being as clear as you could be, and you could end up with an ineffective piece.

What you should say is something like: “I have a trade show coming up, and I want a company overview brochure that shows why my company is different than the competitors.”

This way, you get an effective marketing tool — not just a pretty brochure. Describing the problem also helps when you’re not sure how to solve it! We can make suggestions and help put together a marketing plan that will take you in the right direction.


Send them visual examples of things you like.


It can be hard to verbally explain the style or “look” you like. Send your team visual examples. This will save them lots of time (and you lots of money) trying styles you don’t like. Better yet, make a board on Pinterest and share it with them! A team of pros should be able to make something that not only communicates effectively with your target market but fits your aesthetic too!

Remember: your team may push back on your ideas, but if so, it might be because of their expert opinion. Research of your ideal customers might indicate that you should go in another direction. If this happens, just ask why they’re making the suggestions that they’re making! You’ll feel more confident in what you’re getting.


Make sure you understand their revision policy.


Ask questions like:


“Are changes included?”

“How many?”

“Do I have to pay an hourly rate once I’ve exceeded my change limit?”


The relationship between you and your design team should be collaborative! They’re looking for your feedback and want you to be 100% thrilled with the end product.

That usually means a little bit of back-and-forth. At Northbound, we always include rounds of revisions in our pricing. We know that 99.9% of the time, you’ll have suggestions or changes. Whether that’s a color that you want swapped or a font you’re just not a fan of, we’re happy to listen to your ideas and incorporate them into the final design. We want to be a team, and that means listening to what you want. Make sure that whoever you work with explains their revision policy, and that you’re confident in their ability to deliver what you’re expecting within the scope of the project.


Ready to start your journey?


Fill out our questionnaire.

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