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Spend less time at work

by Hugh de Winton, Dare / January 5, 2014

Note: This blog entry is available in English only.

Great work starts with getting to the truth about a situation. The problem is some methods of research only get us so far. Hugh, one of our Senior Planners, investigates…

Every now and again I check my bank statements. My eyes are usually fixed on the numbers in the right hand column and the story it tells.Recently I’ve noticed something else.  I’ve realised it presents back to me a person I don’t know that well. The names of the brands in the left hand column are the brands I’ve actually bought from, not the ones I like to think I buy from.

Books are usually bought from Amazon. When it comes to popping out of the office for a sandwich, I go to Pret far more than I ever realised and I’m partial to a Wasabi. I buy way too many bike accessories from Evans and my pub of choice according to the numbers is The Ship, the run down local over the road with murky red carpets and a glass cabinet displaying their extensive crisps collection.

In short, I buy from a repertoire of big high street brands and am not as interesting as I’d like to think I am. All of this isn’t too much of a worry for me. I’ve already gotten over my existential moment and will now try not to go to Pret as much in future. But this same situation is the root of a much bigger problem for brands.

If they can’t properly understand the truth about how people really think, behave and buy – then the chances are their strategies, creative work and even new products may be wide of the mark, less effective or even fail. The good news is that there is a way to avoid sliding into a situation like this. It starts with being a lot tougher on the research we do and the data we have access to.

We should always look on people’s claimed attitudes and behaviours as something to question further – not as unequivocal, unquestionable truths. In my case, this would mean following me around at lunchtime or after work to see where I actually buy sandwiches, or sitting me down for a chat to find out why I really go to The Ship.

Sadly, this is the bit we rarely do. We feel more at home digging into a PowerPoint or discussing things in nicely lit boardrooms with other advertising people and good coffee.

It’s a shame because real people exist everywhere. They are walking passed your office every day, all day and often a quick chat can reveal stuff you’d never even get out of a controlled focus group.If we are tough on what passes as the truth and start taking every opportunity to uncover it, the more chance we have of building campaigns and brands on rock solid foundations.

We may not always get there immediately but the truth is always worth fighting for, however long it takes and wherever it may take us.

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