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Knowing that ‘you are not your customer’

Peter O'Leary 04 Jul 2017 • 3 mins read

There is a common lament amongst agency peeps when their client isn’t able to articulate why something doesn’t work and resorts to their personal view, that leaves everyone questioning ‘why did we bother’?

Over time we’ve seen many such challenges. From 50+ men debating what appeals to teenage girls; to old-school marketing managers checking strategy with a hand-full of people at the local coffee shop; to having a 3-hour debate on the shape and size of a ‘hand’ that might hold the product (thankfully resolved when the Art Director in attendance was found to have a perfectly androgynous hand…).

What’s happening? Is the agency unable to find the answers or is the client lost in a sea of options and seeking validation from somewhere else? Without question everyone is on the same team, each bringing different skills and perspective, and all working towards the best outcome. But there can be this kind of disconnect.

Some issues include:

  • The client is living and breathing their brand. They can be completely enmeshed and imbued in all of the wonderfulness their product delivers, sometimes getting caught deep in the detail.
  • The reality is that ‘You are not your customer’. It may seem obvious but easily overlooked. Perceptions are not always evidence-based and often have developed over a long time from erroneous assumptions.
  • Analysis of data and consumer research doesn’t always reveal the reasons why your products are being purchased, leaving that to fuel yet more assumption.
  • There is no robust process to follow and guide the discussion.

We are all emotional beings who occasionally think. Emotion trumps thinking. In the absence of process, we fall back to what’s easy, leaving the door open for the ‘emperor has no clothes’ - when everyone knows it’s not right yet recognise the need to be pragmatic and just go with the flow. Until the cows come home and the results are in.

There is an answer and it’s not hard. It’s about setting context, using tools to curate and evaluate, and then apply consistency. Market success is about finding growth. Growth doesn’t come from maintaining status quo - it’s found by pushing boundaries. To begin, you first need to know where those boundaries are.

Intrigued? We have tools that do all of this. Of course, the tools are not exciting; it’s what they do. In the hands of a talented craftsman, good tools produce remarkable results.

Follow this link for more on our approach to Branding Strategy.