It is not uncommon for a company, country, or an individual to have an annual theme. At Treefrog, our CEO has set one for the company each year, and while most often they have remained internal; this year, we’ve decided to launch a marketing theme along with an internal monologue:
“What does Treefrog do?”
While this might seem like a strange question to be asking after nearly 20-years of business, as a digital agency, we have evolved incredibly over the last two decades; from CD burning to website development, creating a content management system (LEAP), to the additions of search ranking and social, to bleeding edge innovation around AI, AR, and IoT. And throughout all of this change, we hold one common theme: innovation and ideation.
But, we are no longer the people in a basement designing websites by day and coding them by night. We’ve grown into a 40+ team. Our clients have matured and grown, just as the small Town of Newmarket has too.
There comes a time in every organization where you need to step back and ask: Based on our growth, are our clients of yesterday still our clients today? And will they be our clients of tomorrow?
At the end of 2018, we set out to answer this very question.
Let us share how we did this:
Our goal was to identify ten words or fewer that would succinctly recognize who our client is. We began by listing out a variety of clients (both past and present), what types of services they offer, and the successes we’ve had with them. This was followed by a lengthy exercise of identifying attributes of these many customers and how we work with our clients.
During the process, we started to notice patterns in the clients and attributes. While some clients were our long-time partners of 15+ years, others had been working with us for less than two years. Some clients were multi-million dollar organizations, with operations around the world, and others were less than five team members and under half million in revenue.
Fascinating similarities in connection for all clients regardless of size, location, industry or income started to emerge. Attributes such as:
- Experts in their field
We then categorized the attributes, in the hopes of boiling our brainstorming session down into one sentence that was evident in all the clients that we selected, both prosperous and less successful (yes we looked at our failures too).
In all cases, we were dealing with the CEO or lead decision-maker; even in the $80-million company, we had a direct line to the CEO.
However, we also realized that in focusing on our clients, what they asked of us was only part of the equation. How we behave, and our values played an essential role in this process too.
As we mingled our values with the attributes of our clients, we landed on something very close to “who” our ideal client is. This included a definition of each client, and a description that would be lasting regardless of the services that we offer or the ways to which we provide support.
“Courageous, aspirational decision-makers concerned about being digitally underdeveloped who want an invested partner.”
It’s not marketing speak. It’s not meant to be pretty. It’s an internal dialogue for whom we define as our partner. Let’s unpack this definition:
Courage defined as ‘being afraid of something and doing it anyway.’
Starting a company, inheriting a company, or gaining the position of leader in an organization is an act of courage. Sometimes it’s the only act of courage a leader makes (that’s an article for another time). But, taking on that role can be scary. Leading an organization takes courage, on a daily basis.
This word was especially crucial to our team, as many of the clients we looked at need a lot of courage in both their companies and industries. Also, when you think about technologies and the digital industry, there are a lot of unknowns, it’s intimidating to many individuals, yet the courageous person moves forward even in the face of uncertainty.
Aspirational or Aspiration has a dual significance in the hope or ambition to go-after or achieve something paired with the action or process to get it. Aspirational individuals are decisive, visionary, curious, and willing to take risks. At Treefrog, we are aspirational; we take risks, we go after big ideas with curiosity and joy. Our best clients are aspirational, taking risks in business, achieving something beautiful.
Let’s be real. We all want to be dealing with the decision-maker, that’s a given. But, this decision-maker is unique, they go after new things, and they embrace or welcome innovation, thinking outside the box. They are not just any decision-maker but one who eagerly craves success.
This word is especially significant in our definition. Several businesses in the world are happily digitally underdeveloped or non-existent. These are not our clients. We are not seeking to find these decision-makers.
We have one of these businesses leaders on our team right now, a hired consultant working with us part-time: but she is not our client, as she isn’t concerned about her digital footprint.
We are instead interested in working with (and for) companies and decision-makers who are worried about their place in the digital space, who fear missing out, who recognize they are lagging in the digital arena even though they may be experts in their industry.
What does it mean to be digitally underdeveloped? It is relative to the business, knowledge holders, competitors in the industry, and the company itself. It could mean a variety of status points, having an out-dated website, lagging in social engagements, using antiquated systems such as Excel for essential business functions, and more.
This is the one area we’ve spent the most amount of time on, defining and understanding what this could mean to many businesses including our past, current, and future clients. Stay tuned for part two of this article next month, as we will unpack this even more.
Desire. Need. Want. Again, another impactful word in our definition as it describes the mental state of the decision-maker. They aren’t merely looking to fill a gap; this is something they crave or seek. It’s like breathing or nourishment to them, and they see the importance, they are willing to explore and find more than just the bare minimum.
Lastly, a partner, yet not just any partner but one who is there for the long journey. At Treefrog, this is one of our strongest values, almost to a fault. We think of our clients and their businesses as if they are our businesses and our families. We pride our relationships with authenticity and love. When we engage in a new project, we look at the contract like that of the full depth and sanctity. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish. We are there side-by-side with our clients.
What’s next for Treefrog?
Now that we have a defined a clear path of the types of individuals for whom we have seen through evidence-based work and by aligned values, partnership, and longevity, we can start to examine the ‘what’ in: What does Treefrog do?
We hope you’ve found this article informative as to how we discovered our “who,” a question most businesses struggle to articulate.
At Treefrog, we encourage innovation and thought leadership in all that we do. If you would like help in finding your “who,” we offer no-charge innovation ideation sessions for our clients. We merely ask for a 10-15 minute pre-call to learn about your business and what keeps you up at night.
Interested? Please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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