Usher, tattoos, taxis – three top tips to keep clients wanting more
By being in the mosh pit at rock concerts, I am a better, more ‘in demand’ and vibrant client adviser. Sounds weird? Maybe- but it’s true. Here’s why.
Pink’s was bouncy, young, optimistic, inspiring. Kings of Leon grungy, alcohol-fuelled and smelling of vomit. I saw stuff at Usher I am still trying to process (but pretty good humoured and clean)! Leonard Cohen? Well- the crowd was so old we were all seated! But there was a vibe of thoughtfulness and gratitude there that I had never felt before. Point is- I learnt an enormous amount at every one of those events.
Here’s the rub. We have to work hard every day to ‘feed our minds’, and keep connected to the real world around us- the audiences and sub-cultures our clients or organisations are selling products to. Here are my three top tips to do just that.
First, do this simple test @the_brand_guy asked me once. Is this you? Do you…. Live in a reasonably ‘nice’ suburb, travel to work every day basically using the same mode of transport, listen to the same couple of radio stations, read the same magazines every week, watch the same TV shows, check out a small group of websites regularly, eat at a favourite handful of restaurants, order the same dishes often, mix with the same group most of the time….? Sound familiar? Yes? No?
Clients and internal stakeholders expect us to ‘know stuff’… about what’s happening today, and what’s coming around the corner: to be ‘in the groove’, connected to trends, events, the vibe. They want to know our ideas are built on genuine insights.
Leading predictable, narrow lives, living in our comfort zones and seeking the familiar is an easy trap to fall in to. Big mistake if you want to keep and grow clients, and keep your careers vibrant. Here are three ways I stay connected:
- I read stuff am not interested in: A Tom Peters idea. Read magazines on topics you have NO interest in. The last time I flew I bought ‘Tattoos R Us’, ‘Weddings Weekly’ and ‘Kite Flyers Monthly’ (not the real names- but you get the idea). All topics I’m currently not interested in. I then read them with a passion, underlining stuff, tearing stuff out, noting people to follow on Twitter etc. Do this and within a month you will have used knowledge learnt from those magazines in highly value-adding ways with clients. Give it a go! It really works.
- I get in to the ‘mosh pit’, often: Whether a rock concert or movie festival, a parade or local market. Turn up! Look at who is there…what they are wearing, their mobile devices, how they use them, their make-up, hair styles, jewellery, what they are drinking, talking about, how they interact. Think of your clients. Where is the lesson? Where’s the magic? The idea? Jonathan Pease (@jonathanpease) at Tongue does this when he travels- soaks up sights and sounds and culture and takes the valuable lessons for great ideas for clients and products.
- I talk to taxi drivers: I learnt this from the unique and amazing Rose Herceg. Talk to cabbies. Ask them what’s happening… how is business, what are their passengers talking about, what do they think about politician x, what are they listening to? What’s their story, when did they come here, what is their life like, what do they like about the city/country, not like? Dig deep. Be empathetic. Listen intently. Be genuinely interested. Suck it in.
Order dishes at restaurants you would normally never order. Ask colleagues what they are reading and why? Go into stores you have no reason to. Walk down a new street. Go watch a sports game of a sport you don’t know well. You get the picture. Oh, and READ NEWSPAPERS- on-line or off.
As Woody Allen said: “80 percent to the key to success is just turning up.” TURN UP to staying connected and staying current. Make it a priority every day.
It makes you a more valuable contributor.