Understanding the new
A number of recent new business wins have reminded me how much I love working on new clients. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of the sorts of guys who are attracted by the ‘newest and shiniest thing’ but I love the learning and discovery that comes from building your understanding of a business and an industry.
New clients, especially those in industries you’ve not worked in before, deliver a level of stimulation and curiosity that you don’t get with clients you know inside and out.
As a strategist, I get to work with many of our new clients helping to deliver the ‘insights’ bit of Insight Creative. That means a mix of business, communication and channel strategy to ensure that the work we do delivers the results clients need.
I start most new client relationships by reading their annual report. Some are better than others but all give me a sense of who the organisation is and what they see as important. The good ones give you a clear sense of the direction they are driving the business and an appreciation of their strengths and opportunities. The style of the report tells me something about the tone of the organisation and their focus on the needs of their stakeholders.
I tend to follow this up with a bit of online research, starting with a media search for the category. This helps me understand external pressures – like consumer trends, politics, supply issues, technology, etc - that drive company decisions.
By now, I have learnt a whole lot of stuff I didn’t know about the industry and the business. Chances are that I also have a whole lot of questions so catching up with some of the client’s leadership team helps round out the picture. In these discussions I generally focus in on three areas:
- The value chain to understand how they make money and where growth will come from. After all, our work will be part of how they drive that growth;
- The audiences they are aiming for, what drives them and the unique value proposition they offer each audience; and
- The culture of the organisation particularly around decision-making, change, risks and innovation. This gives me a good sense of how far we’ll be able to push our ideas and design.
This process isn’t just about what I enjoy and my learning. The output is a session with everyone who will work on this new client to talk through what we’ve learnt and what that means in terms of how we best work with them.
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