Aaron VanderGalien is a Senior Partner at Deksia, he founded Deksia in 2004, and Deksia has been recognized for its work both regionally and nationally.View all articles written by this author
As business owners, we often think we’re something we might not be; or we believe we’re something when, to our customers, we’re something else completely. You might think you’re best at A, B and C, but when you really get down to brass tacks you might be better at X, Y and Z. A big goal for us at Deksia is figuring out how to relate these various aspects together to determine who a given client of ours really is. A business owner and their clients view things from completely different perspectives, which is why current client research is such an important part of our brand research process.
For example, let’s say I’m really good at coming up with ideas. But maybe my current clients really like me because I’m authentic. I wouldn’t say I’m not authentic; I just might not see that quality as a feature people like about me. It’s not as though current clients will tell us that they enjoy working with a company because of certain qualities, and then the business owner disagrees. Typically, a business possess the qualities their clients say they enjoy, but the owner may not perceive these aspects to be part of their selling proposition. Sometimes when you put the perceptions of customers together with those of the owner, you can begin to develop another idea of what your current clients really value about your business. For example, you might think they value affordability, which they do, but what they value even more is your excellent customer service. The current client research helps you come to these conclusions, which in turn allows you to develop your big idea.
Before, they may have been positioning themselves as “affordable” when their current clients are saying “customer service.” When you tell them the current client research suggests customer service is a big draw, they might say they work really hard on that; but when you ask them what their position was initially, it was affordability. So we’re not coming in and creating a definition that doesn’t already exist. We’re simply uncovering the real definition, based on the current client research.
When we talk to current clients about a business they engage with, it’s safe to assume there’s something about the business they trust, or they wouldn’t work with them in the first place. Let’s say a business has great customer service and that’s why customers stick with them. You can assume that they trust you to deliver excellent customer service over and over again. If your model is affordability, and they don’t trust that you’re affordable or they don’t even care, that’s a problem.
Current client research gives us something to measure potential client research against, which is the next step of the process. Here’s what we’ve got so far. Is what current clients believe something potentials respond to? Does it connect with them? If not, why? We go from there to figure out how to most effectively continue to grow our client’s business and brand.