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In my last post, I took a look at how we re-imagined account team structure to disrupt growth for some of our biggest clients. Now, I’d like to take you behind the scenes to show how we put our #acceptnolimits mentality to work at the day-to-day level.
Before I dig in, it’s important to note that this mentality is the product of the entire 3Q Digital agency team, from recruiting and hiring to reviews to knowledge sharing. We are a company made up of curious and resourceful people, proactively dedicated to questioning the status quo, driving innovation and meaningful disruption. We cultivate these qualities every day, at every level.
With that said, here are seven ways 3Qers regularly pursue disruptive growth:
1. Perform an audit
The first step towards disruption starts with evaluating what’s in front of you. Our account teams do this by sitting down and performing a good old-fashioned account audit in which they review higher-level concepts like channel mix and budget allocation to get a sense of account priorities and patterns over time. If those patterns are not serving the client’s business interests, it’s time to shake things up. From there, our teams get more granular and dig into creative assets, copy, and audience targeting, then review performance and KPIs to determine whether it’s time to retire certain concepts and/or broaden reach to new, disruptive audiences.
2. Get a second set of eyes
Frequently, our team members approach a client account from an outside perspective. Since this is easier said than done, our teams find an actual outsider (i.e. a teammate who isn’t on the account) with bandwidth to spare and ask them to take a look at the account. Fresh eyes are an excellent way to identify new opportunities and bring a different perspective into the mix.
Speaking of seeking different perspectives, our team members frequently take the time to read product reviews and study customer comments on social media to spark new ideas or solutions.
3. Ask the right questions
Asking questions is a core building block of disruption – and asking the right questions can really make a difference when it comes to challenging the status quo. Whether working with a long-time account or onboarding a new client, 3Qers try to ask meaningful or out-of-the box questions to facilitate innovation. Instead of sticking to questions about core KPIs, we mix in questions like, “What are your CMO’s personal goals for this year?” While the answer to the first question might be “CPA,” the answer to the second question could include things like “increasing foot traffic to brick and mortar stores.” Physical stores may not have even been on the account team’s radar before, and this information might open an opportunity to disrupt by branching out into Google Local campaigns, testing out Waze, or opting into a programmatic footfall study.
4. Challenge best practices
Beyond just asking questions, disruptors need to approach best practices with skepticism. For example, in paid search, a “best practice” developed months ago is to keep 5-7 ads per ad group along with a Responsive Search Ad (RSA). That said, since platforms are slowly but surely becoming fully automated, we encourage going beyond simple iterative tests and constructing radical tests like pausing out all ads except for RSA and gauging how performance reacts. If those outside-the-box tests work, we’ve created an edge that those following the status quo won’t have.
5. Study trends to stay ahead
Staying on top of trends is one thing, but staying ahead of them is the golden ticket to becoming a disruptor. There are a few tools/ways to do this. For instance, our teams frequently review the results from a client’s site search feature within Google Analytics to see what customers are beginning to look for that the campaign may not (yet) be covering, and we immediately suggest ways to expand to capture that interest. There are tons of nooks and crannies within accounts to help deduce granular trends; we make it a practice to explore them.
At a higher level, our teams use tools like Google Trends, Google Insights, Facebook Hot Topics, and Pinterest Trends to view aggregate data over time, geo, or platform. These insights regularly spark fresh ideas on how to push the envelope for our clients.
6. Don’t mimic competitors; out-do them
While imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, our teams know they’re not going to disrupt anything by copying competitors. Keeping a close thumb on the competition is an important tactic because it can produce ideas for gaining share of voice, identifying specific industries/concepts that are ripe for disruption, and even highlighting saturated areas to avoid.
Importantly, reviewing competitor insights can highlight industry gaps that are ready to be filled. For example, research tools like SEMrush can point out keyword and targeting overlap between competing brands; instead of simply targeting the overlap, our teams think outside of it and look for ways to expand into areas with plenty of blue sky.
On the creative front, if everyone is doing the same thing, our Creative teams know what not to do and instead ideate totally new concepts to set clients apart in the marketplace.
7. Remember that the industry never sleeps
Lastly, our teams are strongly encouraged to set alerts for favorite industry or vertical blogs. Fresh industry news fuels ideas, kick-starts disruptive thinking, and reminds us every day of the importance of our #acceptnolimits mantra in keeping ourselves and our clients on the cutting edge.
Get more thought leadership and insights from innovators and industry leaders in our Fearless Marketing video series, hosted by 3Q Digital’s founder, David Rodnitzky.