The Market Decides What Is Good Today: Agency Director

The Market Decides What Is Good Today: Agency Director
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Warren Davies is co-director of new Melbourne agency Pretty Neat, and while his future goal is to sell coffee in Hawaii, he has a few ideas on how to understand your customer and deliver what they want in your own business. Take note in this guest post.

I have an idea to sell decent Melbourne coffee on the beaches of the North Coast of Oahu in Hawaii. You just can’t get a good cup anywhere on the island. A friend even said make it in the surf on a boat and hand it directly to surfers. What a pirate!

But before then, a real career.

I love to work with brands today because it’s never been so easy to understand the customer and to set your business up to serve them well. If you make a genuine effort to do those two things, reaching your customers with the right offer is that much easier and more compelling.

I’ve spent my time with creative teams spitballing ideas, combing through pop culture references or tweaking the break-out Cannes winner for another brand. It’s good laughs and agency people are clever, wonderful folk. But to be honest they know very little about your customer or your product, sometimes deliberately so.

If you’re taking a product or service to market because you got a good deal on the supply-side and you’re using the agency to post-rationalise it for consumers there’s a good chance the market won’t go for it.

In fact the market decides what’s good today and that’s good for everyone. If you want to get closer to your customers there’s a few simple steps you can take. It won’t guarantee success for your next campaign or launch but you’ll be doing everything you can to stay close to people who buy your stuff and relevant to their lives.

Talk to your customers about your product

It seems obvious but you’d be surprised how few brands do this or just out-source it. It’s very easy to lose touch with how people are actually feeling or the significance of the issues your product or service is addressing (or not). If you can put the senior team in direct contact with customers, even better yet.

Listen to what your customers say about you

We have a client who listens back to phone calls between members and the sales team. As a CEO he could be doing a dozen other things but he wants to know what people think about his business. Do this at scale with online conversation analysis and you’re very well informed about what the market is talking about.

MVPs really are valuable

It’s not an AFL or NBA thing. Minimum Viable Products are the cheapest possible prototypes or product concepts you can put in the hands of your customers. You can see if you’re in the right place before investing months and millions into finishing a product.

Question whether you need a media spend

Have you seen any TV ads for Tinder lately? Many of the most valuable brands of our time hacked their way to large customer bases with little or no media spend at all. Media is great for sure but it’s increasingly becoming optional. If you can directly access your early users and provide a great product experience you’re on your way.

If you are spending on advertising, ask your internal team or agency to test multiple campaign ideas before you decide what’s most effective. At Pretty Neat we test everything that’s plausible and multivariate testing is our master.

The most important thing to do is anything

Slack began life as a MMPG Glitch before it became the break-out collaboration tool of today. Instagram was a social check-in app Burbn. If you’re in the market and customers are exposed to an offer from you, you’re learning about what they want and what’s most valuable to them.

As an agency planner I once argued with one of the founders of brand planning about where good ideas come from. A quite-spoken thoughtful man, he was the global head of planning at the time and resolutely believed the brand or the agency had the idea and the customer was the beneficiary.

With few exceptions I still disagree and, until I force coffee on Hawaiians, I believe the most commercially successful ideas come from knowing your customer best.

Warren Davies is co-director of new Melbourne agency Pretty Neat who are systematically unlearning most things the big agencies taught them.

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