Empathy, believe it or not, is a hugely important element in our process, especially when working closely with clients. Getting to know each other is one thing. Understanding our clients ideal customers, another. One important factor to all of this seems to be shared experience. Here's a true story;
October 2005, and I was out of work, the result of a redundancy that I should have seen coming. Not long after, I announced to the world that I was unemployed. Within a few days my phone started ringing, and playing the cards I was being dealt, within a month, I was self-employed. Roll forward four years, with work still coming in, the business grew in terms of projects and in terms of team members, and we relocated from the Midlands to North Devon. I kept on working. Head down. Happy. Blind to the traffic ahead. In 2014 the business had a good year, propped up by two large clients. In early 2015, one of these clients merged with a bigger group and they needed the expertise of a larger, city based multi-disciplined agency. The other client, unfortunately, ceased trading. Then the reality came. What with being busy all the time we hadn't implemented any real business development of our own. Marketing and social media had been literally non existent and other than word-of-mouth referrals we had no other viable source for new projects. So we re-evaluated. In fact, no. What we did was to pull everything to the floor and start again. We had no other choice. It was terrifying.
At first, I felt like walking away from it all. The frustration and an inability to know where to start blinded me from moving forward. So, like any great journey, we started at the beginning, by having an objective. We trialled upon ourselves what is now a core part of our process. We started with a brand strategy. I won't lie, it was awkward at first. The difficult questions; Who are your ideal customers and how will they find you? How are you going to differentiate? What makes you a valuable asset to your customers?. But, as involved as the process was, it was also enlightening. It helped clarify what mistakes had gone on before, and more importantly, what we wanted to achieve. In the end, we had a clear path to market, with meaning and with structure.
The Great Field was born.
So now, we feel a huge amount of empathy for our clients when they participate in one of our brand workshops. We understand how scary it feels, as it can force you to dig into unexpected areas and uncover new insights that maybe you haven't considered. In fact, without being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to see things from their perspective, I'm not sure we could do what we do now. We understand that branding and re-branding means change, and that can be frightening, as it involves the unknown. Being able to empathise via our own experiences means we can help steer clients through the process with humility. Even knowing when to stop talking and to simply listen. And believe me, I can talk.
Its been quite profound in some ways. What we have noticed is how a shared experience can foster a deeper connection. Our process exists to serve our customers needs, and our work will not be a success unless we properly get to understand them first.