In our last Chronicle we wrote about designing and running Consumer (or Customer) Closeness programmes. Off the back of a number of enquiries and questions about it, we thought it would be worth writing a short blog with a few more details.
Let’s start with the issue – it’s entirely natural working in a business that you lose the impartiality about your consumers or end customers. Weeks, even days, into starting with a new employer the culture, belief systems, opinions and company narratives build up layers of filters or lenses through which you begin to view your market. Inductions accelerate it. It’s entirely natural. So it takes some real skill to objectively and impartially shed those comfy company moccasins and slide yourself into a pair of your consumer’s shoes. Not actual shoes mind, that would be weird.
The real warning sign here is if you think (or if you hear others saying), ‘No, this isn’t me. I have the skills and experience to be impartial’. Really… no; you don’t. And you can’t. And it’s not a problem, providing you’re open to it. The real knack is being able to move deftly from one foot (business world) to the other (consumer world) and think about the consequences, correlations, causes and patterns that link the two.
That’s the role of a closeness programme – and it can be designed to suit you. The idea, ultimately, is to get the people that matter closer to the people that matter. To get – to force – your stakeholders to shift onto that other foot. Whether it’s facilitated groups; home visits or extended Consumer Connections; whether it’s online diaries or consumer-accompanied safaris (around stores, round an online shop, mooching in competitor environments or just hunting for ‘clues’ for inspiration) the effects are powerful, long-lasting and can profoundly affect your brand building efforts and build engagement for your important strategic shifts or executional plans.
Closeness programmes can be organised as impactful ad hoc sessions to inform strategy or plan development, as on-going campaigns with a varying focus each time or even as part of a team engagement event.
If it’s something you think could help your brand building, get in touch.
David Preston is founder of The Crow Flies, a research, strategy and innovation company that helps brands find a direct route to long lasting success. firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 (0) 1283 246260; www.thecrowflies.co.uk; @crowflieshigh.
© The Crow Flies, 2021