Am I an entrepreneur? You’ve probably answered that in your head based on what I do. I run a business. Does that do it? It’s fast growth. Does that make me an entrepreneur? I have a couple of alternative investments. Does that tick the box?
I recently attended the BQ Live Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, as a member of the judging panel no less.
How did I get that gig? I’m not even sure I’m an entrepreneur!
It was a room full of entrepreneurs (as the title of the evening suggests) and as a developing business owner I soaked up as much as I could from the throng, talking to as many people as possible.
I spend a lot time meeting and talking to business people. The majority of our client base is privately owned, independent, growth businesses. Some of them are entrepreneurial by nature, others are simply business people.
But what’s the difference?
Most would argue that entrepreneurialism is about having multiple successes (and failures). I’d say it’s not about what people have, it’s about what they are.
Ajaz Ahmed was a keynote speaker at the evening and offered his thoughts on this very subject. It got me thinking. So, here’s how I see it…
Entrepreneurs don’t live in fear of others, they don’t shy away from aggressive competition, they don’t envy and they don’t suffer jealousy. At the event, over 200 people celebrated each other’s success and they did it with sincerity. Many chatted but most listened, some told stories and others took mental notes. Always learning – there’s another common trait of the entrepreneur.
Mark Mullen (Chief Executive of Atom Bank) stated ‘in an era of dissolution we provide togetherness’. Quite a powerful statement for today. My experience suggests that entrepreneurs do celebrate others and do believe in togetherness. Uniting to deliver growth, opportunities and a better way.
Truth be told, I think ‘entrepreneur’ is a bit of a wanky term. It’s too often used and too little understood. You see, the other night wasn’t about a room full of people with multiple businesses, it was full of people with common traits. Entrepreneurialism isn’t about what they have, it’s about what they do.
Inherently they fill gaps or disrupt. Either seeing and grasping an opportunity or seeing stagnation and finding a different way.
Importantly, the very best entrepreneurs don’t do it alone. They do it as a collective, taking the best people with them, learning and teaching. What often separates them is their ability to unite and lead behind a shared vision and purpose. Entrepreneurs don’t work in businesses, they work on them.
Constantly evolving, never standing still. Changing businesses and sectors before change is even necessary.
Ajaz talked about them having a ‘bigger lens’ meaning they see what others don’t. They learn more and they do it quicker, which ties with the fact that they constantly steal ideas and ways of doing things. They see good things happening and take the best of their market (and often other markets) to form an attractive alternative. Constant evolution restricts revolution.
I recently spent time in a school interviewing sixth form students and I met one individual who stood out as aggressively ambitious. He stated he wanted to be an ‘entrepreneur’. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by it. I wasn’t quite sure he knew what he meant by it. But I had a standard question asking what the students would do if I gave them a £1,000. Common answers were shopping, book a holiday, a deposit for a car. This students answer was ‘invest in myself’. He couldn’t quite decide what, but he’d book on a course.
‘Invest in myself’. I’m pretty sure he’ll do well in life and I’m pretty sure he will be entrepreneurial. He might not have things but he already has the mindset.
Finally, what I’ve learnt from the best entrepreneurs I have met is their empathy to their customers. They just get it. They inherently understand. They have an exceptional ability to step into the client’s shoes and in so many instances, that is where most entrepreneurs’ ideas come from. They are not necessarily more creative, they just know there’s a better way for the customer.
The summary; entrepreneurialism isn’t about what people have, it’s about what they do. It’s a mindset that can’t be judged by assets.
Ultimately, entrepreneurs’ behaviours are what makes them stand out and excel but the biggest commonality is that they’re laser focused on customers. And so they should be because it is our clients that will decide our future, not we.
I never stop thinking, I never stop learning, I collaborate, educate and shape decisions around our customers. We have a business model at Boutique that doesn’t quite fit with the norm. Not necessarily disruptive. Not different. Just not the same.
I think I’ll tentatively accept the title.
A bold title I know but this obsession with click bait has got the better of me. I should reword it to ‘5 key characteristics that will get you a job at Boutique’ but that might not be so broadly appealing!
That’s what this is though; the 5 key things I look for when interviewing. If you’re coming for an interview with us, the level of research you’ve undertaken will be evidenced by whether you focus on these elements. I’ll know if you read my blog. I hope you have!
Having employed 30 people (I know, it’s not a lot) and undertaken over 100 interviews (again, I know I’m not setting any records) I’ve kept details of every one of them and I’ve found there are 5 key areas I assess.
A recent Linkedin report highlighted the most overused marketing buzzwords in a profile. The list shouldn’t surprise anyone. In truth, most have their place. We’re marketeers. If we can’t communicate more effectively than most then we’ve something to worry about.
So, here’s my list of key characteristics I look for, and why.
We just don’t like staid. It’s OK to know your noodles but I’d much rather you had a burning desire to know more, share your knowledge and impact on a business. We can teach people how to build PPC campaigns, assess TV responses or negotiate a link, but I can’t give you the passion for doing it.
Further, a general passion for life is always going to make you a fun person to work with. Nobody likes a bore. Well, they do, but not us. A natural zeal will also mean you’re always learning.
We collaborate constantly. With media owners, fellow employees, agency partners and of course clients. I’m always looking for how people have worked with others to the benefit of the eventual outcome. It shows personnel skills, empathy, goal orientation and a desire for collective responsibility. Collaboration also means sharing what you discover and that makes everyone around you better as well.
We’re KPI focused. Outcome motivated. Driven by results. We love data, stats, facts. We’re obsessed with knowing that we did what we said we would. It’s critical individuals can demonstrate that same level of obsession. The buzzword most would use is ‘results focused’ but can you prove it and did the pursuit make you lose sleep at night? I do hope so!
Modern business means working life can be tough. We have high demands from clients, high demands of ourselves and our colleagues. We’re ruthless in our pursuit of world class performance and it takes a level of resilience to retain that high standard. Further, resilience also means the ability to get back on track when we divert. We try new things, challenge the norm and create realignments to ever-evolving goals. It takes a resilient character.
Live a little
Beauty blogging, home brewing, VW Beetles and Comic Con participation. All things that employees of Boutique have a passion for outside of office hours. It makes for rounded and healthy individuals. It’s testament to an engaged mind to have external activity that is motivating, exciting and brings to life a range of knowledge and skills. The worst interview answer is when people are asked what they do to enjoy life. The inevitable ‘go to the cinema’ or ‘socialising’ just kills me a little inside. Everybody’s interesting in their own way. The weird is often the most wonderful.
Pesky millennials. They expect so much. You hear about how difficult modern day footballers are to manage. Try leading a large group of twenty somethings in a modern agency. Jeez, they’re a demanding bunch.
There’s a mountain you know? And to get to the top of the mountain you’ve got to do a lot of climbing. Hitching a ride is cheating yourself. I may be cynical, but getting there without enjoying a testing journey just isn’t as rewarding. You know what I mean?
If you haven’t see Simon Sinek speak about this issue, then I urge you to do so. Whether you are one of these modern employees or an employer of this wonderful new generation, his talk resonates.
Hey, the world changes and so do the people in it. We live in an era of high demand culture. We want everything now. Impatience is everywhere. That’s the role that technology and social media has played. If we want a reaction, to vent, to ask a question, to gain a referral, understand how something works, find something, find somewhere or make a purchase, we can do it. Quickly. And we’ll find the results. Quickly.
It’s created a reduction in loyalty, applied performance pressures across most business sectors and meant the bad have died, the good have thrived.
It’s also meant that in life, we expect more, now. These bloody millennials are the worst for it. Of course, as a modern agency, employing highly qualified, highly intelligent people, we’re going to have to work hard to satisfy and please our team members. I like to think we do it.
However, even though I’m only (!) 38, I feel ever so slightly from another world. A world where the choices weren’t so vast, job hopping was much more minimal and loyalty was high.
It sounds like we’re in a bad place, right? Well, no, we’re not actually. Our employee tenure is way above the industry average. We continue to grow and we continue to retain the best people. We have a real emphasis on team, culture and progression. We have a process of ‘Gain-Train-Retain’ whereby we source the best people and keep them, enabling them to be the best they can be and rewarding personal progression.
As a fast growth business doing exciting things I think there’s a natural inclination for people to stay, enjoy and benefit from the ride. No month is boring and whilst we have processes and curves, we try to do our best by every employee. Hey, I don’t always get it right and we won’t always meet demands. But I’m trying.
It’s a business’s responsibility to balance the demands of their own (we want 41% growth next financial year!) with the demands of employees (salary, job title, role satisfaction, client contact and more). Balancing short-term needs and the long-term vision of a business can be tricky. Marrying that with the long-term progression of employees with the short-termism in life creates a conundrum of culture. When they work together, it makes for a rewarding journey for the business, its clients and the employees.
So, after all of that I’m proud to announce I bloody love millennials. They keep me on my toes, they’re demanding and make me work harder every day. Our latest employee happiness survey testifies to that. There’s still work to do, but I’ll love doing it.
So how do we do it?
I’m not going to share too much of what we do, but our ‘Gain – Train – Retain’ process is built around core pillars:
I’d love to have the happiest place to work but I’d much rather be the most effective agency around. I think people get a real kick out of working with great clients and delivering great results, not using a slide to go to meetings. With that in mind, we’ll continue to expect a lot from our people because we know clients expect a lot from us.
What’s this leading me to say? What’s my point?
There isn’t one.
Wondering why I wrote this?
Because we always want the best people. And the best people have read to the end and know we’re a great place to work. I look forward to receiving your call or email. See you somewhere on the mountain.
Before I lambast you with some of my musings, I thought I’d cast my opinions over the latest Christmas ads…
Last week saw the real start of the ‘Best Christmas Ad’ contest. As usual everyone waited with baited breath for John Lewis, who showed kids that it’s DAD that delivers your presents and that all woodland creatures are fun-loving trampoline lovers, much to the great joy of those who love to write complaint letters. Personally, I thought the ad was good, but didn’t live up to the hype.
M&S showed us that women keep secrets but when it really counts, they are the go-to people to get things done at Christmas. A great ad about a young boy who wanted to show his sister he loves her even though it’s funny for him to make her life difficult. Proving that Christmas is truly a time for family to pull together.
My personal favourite has been the heart-warming Heathrow Airport advert which depicts an elderly teddy bear couple who are travelling to see their family. Click the links and make your own mind up about your own personal favourite. If you think I missed a better one, then please link in the comments.
Lessons of growing up
My Dad taught me a lot of things growing up, most of which came from me having done the opposite first time around. The end goal as a parent is to make sure your kids are socially functioning, educated and most of all to keep them out of trouble! This week I’ve been thinking about the lessons that have travelled with me to the business world.
If you are the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room
This was something I fought hard as a child when I believed I was the best player at my football club, but when I finally moved to a bigger pond I was forced to learn more skills and eventually became a significantly better player. The same has been true of my business life, I have always wanted to contribute but whenever I saw an opportunity to learn more somewhere else I jumped at the chance.
Coming to We Are Boutique from Google, I thought I would be holding most of the cards, but in agency life my PPC views were only part of the answer. I am embracing the opportunity to learn from the people around me in SEO, PR and Traditional Media – knowledge that’s vital to be able to offer holistic strategies.
Take a look at where you are, have you plateaued or are you still growing? Where are your opportunities?
Never be the guest who arrives empty handed
Working in Business Development, chances are when approaching people, they didn’t invite you, so you should go with a gift to show you are in the right place. I believe it’s important to show an offering of knowledge or insight that proves you turned up at their door prepared and fully aware of the event at hand. It’s clear that not everyone does this by the reactions I get when offering insight or research to potential clients but, spoiler, they like it.
Take pride in your appearance
Your appearance says a lot about you, but I don’t mean wear a suit every day. Sure, look nice if you can, everybody looks great in a tailored suit, but be careful of your mannerisms. Look interested and listen, speak WITH people, not at them, for a start. But most of all, be confident about who you are. Here’s a great video from Amy Cuddy which I highly recommend watching:
Always say please and thank you
This is just a basic. If you are a conscientious person you should have manners. Hold doors open, say “thank you” if you’re the recipient, help the old lady off the train with her bag. Little things go a long way. In our office we are bombarded by calls on a daily basis. In an environment where 20 people sit within earshot of one another, if you are rude, brash or try to bully your way to a decision maker, you are burning bridges at a phenomenal rate! Which brings me on to my next lesson…
Be polite to people, you don’t know who they are or when you might meet them next
The person who answers the phone may well be a decision maker, the person you didn’t hold the door for or didn’t say thank you to in the morning might be the person with the final say in the boardroom or over a deal in the future. You never know where or who someone will be in 5 years’ time. My dad was always remembered by people wherever we went, people were always wanting to say hello, shake his hand – it’s because he treated them the right way every time he met them.
Try to include everyone
I know from personal experience that speaking the most isn’t indicative of knowing the most. It’s often the person who listens to everything before speaking that has the best understanding. Don’t be afraid to play your role, just don’t be a dick – allow everyone to feel important and get involved. The greater the diversity of the team the greater the diversity of your brand.
There’s no point holding a grudge
Bitter people only ever attract poisonous opportunities; if you missed out on something, be that business, commission, a penalty in the U14 cup quarter final, accept it, own it and learn from your mistakes – make it the reason you improve. The time you spend complaining about it or blaming others will only hinder your own progression. The luckiest people are the ones who keep moving forward leaving their baggage behind them.
Without failure, success wouldn’t be an achievement
These are my musings, I hope they help you as they have helped me.
Here’s a fact: On mobile, 1 second of loading time costs 27% of conversions.
What does this mean?
People have lots of easily accessible options, are continuously bombarded and don’t want to wait. They’ve already decided what you have to say isn’t of interest, in fact most of them don’t want you to talk to them at all.
Or at least so they think; the battle for attention is all about relevance. This has been true when selling into businesses for a long time – the shift in consumer attitudes, however, is more recent.
I’ve sold to business for my entire career and understand battle for people’s attention and consideration. So now for the first time we can discuss B2B and B2C sales tactics in parallel.
So how do we do it? You have to be:
Sell without selling.
I often hear the term ‘adding value’ which sounds great but is often unqualified, are you actually adding any? Real value can only be defined by the person you are selling to. In order to do this, you first have to look inward and create a strategy for who you want to work with, why?
Anyone who knows of Simon Sinek will be familiar with the concept of starting with ‘your Why’. If you aren’t familiar, this video is an absolute must watch:
Once you understand this, create a refined list of people you want to work with then build content around that audience.
Sharp, Punchy, Relevant content. Then give it to them for free – sell without selling.
This is where you add the value. If you’ve worked out the why, identified the who and given them something they need for free, you will earn their attention. This works for both businesses and consumers. We do it through reports or thought pieces, more recently brands have found effective ways to replicate this in a consumer marketplace.
It’s called submissive advertising – there’s an article about it here.
Do you see what I did there?
Like many, I woke to see the headlines on my iPhone and felt shock. I really didn’t see Brexit coming. I didn’t vote. Shoot me, but I just couldn’t decide. I was concerned about the impact on the wider community and society beyond just me and I simply didn’t understand enough.
Since the vote, I’ve seen an endless array or responses from all sectors and I’ve read with interest the varying commentary from agencies, advertising bodies and clients. There’s a general theme coming out from our industry; dismay. More than that, it has created an ‘us and them’ scenario I’ve never experienced before. ‘We’re all fu&@ed now because of them‘ is a fair summary of the rhetoric.
Fascinating. 17m people are apparently ill-educated idiots only looking after themselves.
That’s a lot of fools. Even now I am seeing more and more content of people picking the topic apart and suggesting the divide is between ‘have’ and ‘have nots’. How hideously closed-minded to suggest it is purely income, demography, education that is the gap.
17m people aren’t ‘wrong’. They live a different life, in a different world to those who are dumbfounded and angry. The truth is, the marketing industry in particular is in a different stratosphere.
Modern media consumption is somewhat responsible for this lack of understanding of those that vote the other way (irrelevant to which side you sit on). Firstly, your social feed is specific to you. You receive a blurred vision of society and the world due to selective media consumption and the ‘friends’ you keep. Are your friends representative of you or wider society? This is a general concern I have which has been brought to life via the referendum. We refine audiences and target individuals based on data and/or me-too targeting so as to suggest this is the likely audience to purchase a product. Refining targeting creates efficiency but what about those who don’t know about our product? Here lies the problem with social. You’re pigeon holed based on interests and actions, likes and engagements so I, for example, get served endless content re fitness, biking, football, holidays. All good, right? But what about when I do want a new car, I need inspiration for a family gift or, hey how about when I want to understand the broader debate and ensure a wide view of a political issue?
There’s more content beyond social of course but still, we actively choose what to consume. It is, in the main, naturally balanced toward our own bias and as a result we have seen one side of the Brexit argument; whichever side you’re on. The other side is misrepresented as your bias shuns the values and takes the piss out of the morons voting the other way (whichever way that might be); ‘Out’ became racist ill-educated idiots. ‘In’ became the rich, toffs and out of touch. Neither is a fair representation of the masses on either side.
My point is that we live OUR lives and that gives us a blurred vision. I live in a village in North Yorkshire. Quite unlike south Leeds, my kids can get in to schools that aren’t ‘full of Romanians’ (as reported on the BBC). The crime rate is very low and I personally see value in (some!) of the policy making in Brussels. It impacts on me. Positively. But it doesn’t impact positively on everyone
In marketing we create pen portraits of customers and whilst it covers a lot of areas it is always somewhat pigeon holing. Even TGI gives us evidence that people are limited in their consumption. Give me a Sunday Times reader in TGI and I’ll not need the data to be able to tell you what other media they consume, where they live, what they like, buy, drive, eat, how old they are etc.
Marketing is a little bit to blame. Broadly, the marketing world thinks the double act of Boris and Farage to be lunacy at play. A pair of buffoons with one interest; themselves. That was certainly the sentiment at Cannes across the advertising world. An advertising world that lives in villages, have their kids in good schools and have made hay whilst the Euro sun shone! Is this collective able to understand the broader community? Do they understand the 17m? That’s a lot of people to not understand when it’s our job to connect, engage and enthral.
We (the marketing collective) are obsessed with the middle masses; the ones that buy the products we advertise, that have the disposable income. I’m pretty sure there’s a large number of them in that 17m and the evidence suggests we, as an industry, are somewhat out of touch with them.
The marketing world and agencies in particular need diversity. I don’t mean black, white, male, female. I mean life, experience, background, education. Tools, tech, data are all great but if you don’t actually understand motivations, lifestyles, pressures and subsequent choice criteria, all the science in the world will miss the target.
With regards to Brexit, we have misunderstood a large proportion of the 17m by making assumptions that people fit in boxes. We didn’t expect the next door neighbour to vote out because, well, we didn’t and being in Europe creates stability and I work in an agency. Stability’s fine by me. I’m sure he has an education, isn’t a racist and I’ve considered him an idiot! If only the ‘In’ had understood the sentiments and really ‘got’ the 17m masses. Maybe they’d have worked a bit harder….?
The customer journey to purchase or engagement is changing. That’s old news. Consumers have changed. That’s old news. But if we don’t ensure we ‘get it’ we’ll forever fall short of being able to know what people want. In this instance it’s 17m people.
Agencies need to use data and science but we also need to use knowledge, life and work hard to get under the skin of our consumers. The Out campaign did that. I’m not entirely sure the In campaign really understood the masses because they assumed the 27m ABC1 adults who aren’t racists would vote in.
Many cliché’s, common phrases and stereotypes are largely based on an exaggerated truth.
So in this instance I’m going to ditch the wanky modern buzzwords and stick to a phrase my Grandma would frequently say to me. She’s from the North East so try to read it with that accent in mind.
Usually in reference to some new jeans or clothing, “Eeeee, well I never. Are those back in fashion? Everything comes back around!”
I only want to concentrate on the last part – ‘Everything comes back around’.
With so many tools available to the modern marketer you’d be forgiven for thinking pure brand marketing could be a thing of the past. Every pound of budget is boiled, mashed, passed through a fine sieve and then thrown into a customer’s face as often as possible.
I’m often exasperated by how regularly brands find a way of interrupting my day only to shout at me. I work for a communications agency; god knows how normal civilians feel.
I’m not suggesting advertising is on its way out, or that we should stop finding new ways to reach consumers, it just seems like we aren’t thinking about quality anymore. Perpetual sales cycles and shouty messaging have diluted the marketing landscape so much that people will begin to seek out sanctuary.
Don’t forget that the advances in technology are also allowing people to ignore advertising, how often do you actually watch live TV? A recent piece of research showed that 60% of the TV 25-35 year olds watch is pre-recorded or VOD programming, which makes it pretty easy to avoid the ads.
We’re so focused on DR, so focused on continually weighing the pig, we often forget to feed it properly.
Working in sales is a similar story; technology and free access to data changed the way we do things. Hearing my dad talk about how he used to do business used to surprise me. He worked with people he knew well, who liked him and would always put in a good word. He almost entirely brought in new business through referral; I occasionally go back home for a round of golf and it’s safe to say he keeps good company, firm handshakes all round…
Up until recently I’d always worked in environments where you were charged with gluing the phone to your ear and bashing your way through a long list of bought data. I’d then occasionally take a break from the cold calling to send out some mass spam.
Any sales professional worth their salt will now tell you this approach doesn’t work anymore.
We have to look inwards and identify what we’re good at and who could actually benefit from our skills. Taking the time to approach the right people in the right way is so much more compelling than saying ‘do you want to buy some stuff’. We need to put our efforts into fostering meaningful relationships, something that takes equal measures of effort and time.
It seems that Grandma may have been right after all… everything does come back around.
Summer is (sort of) here, which seems to be a popular time for businesses to expand their offering and branch out into appointing an agency to assist with their digital strategy. Choosing an agency is a bit like choosing the right pair of shoes… when you find the perfect fit, you’re proud to be seen in them, confidence shines off of you and you’re comfortable in the knowledge the shoes will take you where you need to go! (Without causing any pain…)
Here at We Are Boutique, we strongly believe that there are certain agencies for certain businesses and it’s important you find a right fit in order to encourage a positive working relationship and, above all else, those all-important results. That’s why we’ve put together a short guide for things to consider when looking for, and appointing, a digital agency.
Why use a Digital Marketing Agency in the first place?
First of all, it’s important that you consider why it is you are looking for a digital agency. The answer to this core question will help you narrow down your search in the sea of agencies fighting for your business.
Your business is pretty unique, meaning you need to ensure that your campaign and the channels used are based around a water-tight strategy which has been compiled by a team of professionals who have the in-depth understanding of what works… and when.
Using an agency means that you don’t just have the eyes of one person in-house looking after your campaign; you have a whole team of individuals with time to spend driving great results. Digital marketing can be a time-consuming task, so an agency will call on those appropriate individuals to give their insight and time.
In a good digital agency, you will meet a team which carefully meshes a mixture of knowledge and previous experience of all channels and industries.
A dedicated digital agency won’t just ring-fence the work you’ve instructed them to do. They keep an eye on the market and will give their two-pence on business development if you’re happy for them to do so…
Recommendations and referral
Word of mouth is a persuasive way to choose your agency and demonstrates the agency’s ethos on client intimacy, strength of knowledge and implementation skills.
Looking further than that, awards such as the RAR (Recommended Agency Register) is a great way to find recognised agencies who are great at what they do! Another telling factor is whether an agency works well with other agencies. Your digital agency might not be au fait with creative design, for example, so it’s important you can trust your agencies to work collaboratively for the benefit of your business. It’s also a great testament to see that other agencies enjoy working with your chosen agency – it shows they really are leaders in the industry!
What do you want to achieve from the campaign?
Some agencies will thrive off particular types of businesses. It’s important to lay out some goals you’re hoping to achieve through your comms activity, whether that’s sign ups, sales or something else. Here at Boutique, we like to work with transformational businesses and ‘challenger brands’ who are new to market. It allows for ground-breaking strategy and the opportunity to offer real growth to our clients through our chosen channels.
Start by considering these points and you should be well on your way to finding an agency that is the perfect fit for you and your business. After all, if the shoe fits…
Firstly, if you’ve not yet seen Eddie the Eagle – you should be feeling a real sense of FOMO – it’s absolutely incredible. It tells the true tale of Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, a tenacious British underdog ski jumper who captured hearts across the world during the 1988 Winter Olympics. Critics described it as “Built to get an audience cheering” and “a thoroughly inspiring underdog tale”. Now I’m no film critic but anything that has an IMDb rating above 6 usually gets my vote. This has 7.6 – a pretty solid effort.
Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, I can safely say you’ll experience an array of emotions, including a raging sense of pride, embarrassment, heartbreak and childish humour.
So what’s this got to do with brands?
It’s true that everyone loves an underdog, like when we rooted for Reggie & Bollie on The X Factor (and remember Wagner?!). But what exactly was it that made us love them so (even if there was a little guilt attached)? I believe it’s because they remained true to themselves, their values, and didn’t try and mug us off with an elaborated front. The same can be said in business – both a business’ or brand’s customers and peers will see straight through a half-hearted, fake attempt at winning people over (remember House of Fraser’s emoji-gate?), so it goes without saying that if you’ve developed your business based on a set of core business values – stick to them. Eddie the Eagle didn’t win the world over by playing up to the Olympic committee’s rules and regulations; he did it in his own, somewhat odd, ‘Eddie’ way – and he became a national treasure, as well as a British record-holder.
In today’s cutthroat world of business and branding, competition is fierce and consumers are brutal, with brand loyalty becoming a distant memory as millennials bulldoze their way into the marketplace demanding instant gratification. Brands need to take their character seriously, developing it so they become ‘interesting’ and ideally even known for something. Failing to do so will leave them redundant in a sea of mere, mid-level ‘providers’.
But for those brands that stay true to their character and evoke a deep, emotional connection with their consumers (the Innocents, Aldis, and Ben & Jerrys’ of the world), well, they may just make it into the record books too.
Image via Flickr
I recently upped sticks from rural North Lincolnshire to the big-city-buzz of Leeds and, with a house move/new job combo within 24 hours of each other, I found myself in a *slight* panic about not just a complete lifestyle overhaul but actually finding space in my apartment for all of my worldly possessions.
Cue a trip to IKEA…
As we walked around the megastore I tried to avoid the irrational thoughts of needing 5 styles of clothes hangers and one of every candle scent. I reminded myself that all I needed was a clothes rail and once back at the flat, we got the toolkit out and assembled said clothes rail in what felt like no time at all (and it looks fabulous, by the way). Amongst the twisting of Allen keys and feelings of joy I felt once we’d assembled it, I couldn’t help but think back to my Psychology degree.
In the industry we’re in, a lack of understanding of people is an absolute crime and so it’s important to apply a little outside thinking as to how and why people make the decisions they do, however irrational they may be.
Dan Ariely, leading professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, co-published a study in 2012 quite satisfyingly titled “The IKEA effect: When labour leads to love”. The premise of the study was to investigate consumers’ valuations of self-made products – i.e. why we love our hand-assembled furniture more than fully-assembled counterparts.
Across four studies, participants had to build IKEA boxes, fold origami and construct Lego sets, and they were then asked what they’d be willing to pay for their self-made masterpiece. What was most compelling was that participants believed their self-made products were worth top dollar, with results revealing those participants would pay more for their creations than outsiders would pay for the same creations. So what is it about our self-made products that makes us love them more than the expertly manufactured alternatives?
Labour is love… And science suggests it’s the time, effort and skill involved in the creation that make us love our self-made products a heck of a lot more than those of experts.
The positive side of this bias means we can save ourselves money and still remain happy if we opt for self-assemble furniture and cook-at-home recipes as opposed to buying more expensive, ready-made alternatives (ever wondered why the famous Betty Crocker cake mix recipe changed from ‘just add water’ to add ‘egg and oil’?).
However the negative side of this means we may disproportionately apply a cognitive bias towards our own creations, which could negatively affect us in everyday life.
Take our industry, for example; if one individual ran with every idea or decision that popped into their head, the company would probably fall flat on its arse. It’s the time taken to discuss with multiple minds and get an alternative perspective that allows us to come up with award-winning, unique and awesome ideas, taking ourselves out of our own bubble and away from cognitive bias.
It’s worth noting that only successful completion of a task warrants this psychological effect. I.e. if you built, then unbuilt, your Lego set, or don’t get chance to finish it, you won’t show a willingness to pay more for it!
Things in everyday life that can be explained by the IKEA effect:
So what can we take from this? In business, getting your customers or clients to, in part, ‘do it themselves’ (provided it’s not rocket science!) will make them love your product that little bit more, and have them coming back for it time and time again.
You can read the published study here.