Do You Want Your Cow To Be Purple Too?

We lost out on a tender today.

It happens.

You win some, you lose some. You lose some more. You think you’ll never win another.  You win three in a row and find yourselves wondering how you’ll get the work done. It’s all part of agency life.

So why am I writing about this one?

Because we came so close – a hair’s breadth, a gnat’s whisker – take your pick but there were fractions in it. What lost us the pitch in the end was that the other agency had more experience in the sector.

That got me to thinking – is that a good reason? There’s clearly nothing we could’ve done about it, nothing we could’ve done differently. And there are times when we use our own experience in particular sectors to win work.

We’ve written recently about internal rebrands and why they often fail, a lack of objectivity or being too close to the subject is one of the primary reasons. So is there such a thing as having ‘too much’ experience in a sector? It was interesting that as part of this process I consulted with my own in-house focus group (my two daughters) who are a target group for the sector concerned. One of the comments they made was how samey everyone looks – and when you’re in a market that involves comparing multiple potential options looking the same isn’t necessarily a good thing.

As marketing people are we sometimes guilty of falling back on our own beliefs about a sector and what ‘good’ looks like rather than starting with a blank sheet of paper each time? In trying to differentiate companies are we perhaps guilty (to reference Seth Godin) of trying to paint all the cows purple?

In my own career I’ve switched sectors a number of times and what’s helped me do that successfully is a foundation in the fundamentals of marketing and ultimately the knowledge that what I think doesn’t really matter. It’s my job to help companies understand the audience, their needs and wants and use the creative tools at our disposal to create brands and campaigns with real impact.

So next time you’re thinking about your ideal strategic partner look at their experience certainly. But also make sure they give you the assurance of their ability to think independently, differently and give you the solution that’s right for you, which may not be the one that’s right for everyone else.

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