Illustration of Ancient Pompeii and smoking volcano.

Discovering What Each Client Really Needs

Our agency president reflects on her recent journey to Pompeii — and the role of discovery in our strategic and creative work for clients.

This past fall, I traveled halfway around the world to see firsthand what has held my curiosity for more than 50 years.

Since I was eight, I’ve been an avid reader and researcher on Italy’s Mount Vesuvius, a volcano that has erupted more than 50 times in its thousand-year lifespan. You may be familiar with its most famous eruption which happened in 79 A.D. when a large portion of the region near the Bay of Naples, most notably the city of Pompeii, was buried in tons of volcanic ash. As many as 2,000 people died. Amazingly, the site was only rediscovered about 1750, and to date only a third of the city has been excavated.

Entering the house frames of the ancient city and learning about a resident’s typical day, seeing how their version of fast food was prepared and understanding how recreation and spirituality played a role in their daily lives was deeply moving. The visit also challenged long-held assumptions I had about the role of class and education in Pompeii. Walking the centuries-old stone streets helped me understand details of their commerce and transportation at a level books and movies cannot.

The tour reinforced for me how discovery can influence perceptions and understanding of events, even 2,000 years after the fact. As a professional marketer, the trip was a powerful reminder of the critical role that exploration plays in our work with clients.

My firm uses many forms of discovery to assist clients in gaining a richer understanding of how best to meet the needs of their target customer.

Discovery is the act of uncovering, clarifying and sometimes affirming attitudes. Other times, findings may conflict with long-held notions and that creates added value in saving critical resources of misdirected time and talent.

In the arena of marketing, discovery can take many forms, from an online survey to the meeting of eyes over coffee and the answer to the question, “What’s new?” Some of our most rewarding and interesting work is when we can look at the results of a statewide consumer phone survey with a client, or report the metrics of website activity or a recently completed campaign. However we’re collaborating, we’re on a path of discovery, discerning needs.

The outcome for an assignment is nearly always better when we start with asking, “How are we to engage the target consumer and fuel a win for our client?”

Among my stunning takeaways from the Pompeii visit was the sad understanding that there were so many opportunities for residents to escape their certain death if they had just stopped and discerned the reality of what was happening, and not simply accepted the societal norms of the day. If perhaps, they had just asked.

With 2018 upon us, what business wins are on your wish list? What questions should you be asking?

Consider discovery as your wise — and potentially exciting — first step on a journey toward business growth and prosperity.

Virginia Roth
By Virginia Roth President