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Automation isn't always the answer. How to find your 'thing that doesn’t scale'.Automation isn't always the answer. How to find your 'thing that doesn’t scale'.
July 8, 2022

Automation isn't always the answer. How to find your 'thing that doesn’t scale'.

Hey 👋🏼

The best things in life are the little things.

The things that can’t be automated. The things that are done thoughtfully and for no other reason than to create something special.

A few years ago, I went to a pub to meet a group of strangers.

We’d never met, but we all had one thing in common, the people that invited us.

This group was brought together by the founders of a recently launched brand that wanted to bring a sense of community back to buying clothing.

They hired a pub in Hackney in London, invited everyone who had signed up to their email list and spent the afternoon getting to know their customers over beer and pizza.

Notably, there was nothing for sale.

Just a group of like-minded strangers getting to know each other.

It was great.

It was memorable.

And it made me want to buy from them even more.

That’s the power of doing things that don’t scale.

No, it’s not a new concept, and you’ve probably heard about it before, but doing things that don’t scale is important for anyone building a brand from scratch. It works because it’s special for the people who do get to be part of the experience. They’ll tell their friends, vouch for you, and feel connected with your brand on a deeper level.

BUT (there’s always a but 😅) before you go and rent out your local pub, read this 👇

Whatever your ‘thing that doesn’t scale’ is, it has to be on brand and special for your audience.

Just doing any old thing you can think of won’t achieve the results you want and can end up damaging your brand more than strengthening it.

For example, if the clothing brand above had decided to go door to door selling their jackets, like Airbnb did to recruit hosts in the early days, it wouldn’t have felt that special.

The key is to make sure what you do is unique to you and your brand and really well aligned with your audience’s interests.

The pub meeting was organised by Paynter Jacket. They remake classic jackets and only sell them a few times a year. Importantly, they’ve built their brand by inviting people behind the scenes on every step of the journey. They also work with artists, photographers and other local brands. Community is their thing, so an afternoon in a local pub made a lot of sense.

Now you know why doing things that don’t scale is so important for your brand, but how do you decide what to do?



The key is finding something that’s special for your audience, unique to your brand and

  1. What it is that really ties your audience together? What is it that they all value?

    ​Example: community
  2. Once you’ve identified the interest or concept that brings your people together, think about how you could emphasise it.

    Example: bring people together in a physical space
  3. Think about how you want your audience to feel and choose the idea that is most likely to make that happen.

    Example: connected to us and each other - bring everyone together in a physical space

Keep being an outlier 💪

J + K