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Phase 1: Market Research (Overhauling Our Own Client Experience)

March 9, 2022

Sarah Williams

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Firstly, welcome to the very first (of 5) articles of what I’m calling the “Walking The Talk” series, giving you a behind the scenes look at how we overhauled our own client experience! When we work with our clients to design their client experiences, we work through five specific phases. No matter the business, industry, target market or level of package – every single one of our clients works through all five phases. The 5 phases are: 

  1. Market Research
  2. Offer Design 
  3. Brand Elevation
  4. Experience Overhaul & Automation
  5. Client Acquisition

And before we jump into the behind the scenes of our market research process, here’s a little bit of context: 

 

 

Why We Decided to Take On Our Own Client Experience 

I started Rebel Office over 6 years ago. To be honest, I still can’t believe it. And the first few years were rough from a money making perspective. That said, I learned a lot during that time about what I actually enjoy doing, what I don’t and what kind of impact I want Rebel Office to have in this world. 

And to say we’ve “pivoted a couple times” would be an understatement. 

I’m constantly looking at opportunities to improve what we’re doing, adjust what doesn’t feel good and make things more enjoyable not only for myself and the Rebel Office team, but for our clients and community too. And when COVID spread worldwide, after the initial panic wore off and we had a bit of a dip in our client roster, things slingshotted forward. We grew quickly, and we had to adapt just as quickly. 

Now, fast forward to mid-2021, and I’m burnt out. Our systems were working, our clients were good, but I was feeling like we weren’t reaching our fullest potential and doing things that “made us money” but that wasn’t fuelling my soul, you know? 😂 And still, we ended 2021 with a STRONG action plan forward. We were ahead on everything, had plans for it all and were fully ready and organized to go into 2022 with serious momentum. 

Enter: 2 weeks of holidays that I actually took off. I deleted Instagram and my Mail app and actually took time off. And you know what? That gave me time to think. Oops! And I come back the first week of January with an elevated direction, plan to redo it all and stop playing it safe to go after what I really want — Helping our clients design intentional (and truly exceptional) client experiences. 

Client experience design and the systems setup that comes with it has really always been what we do. We’ve packaged it differently, and we’ve taken on other things since internally our messaging wasn’t clear. But now we are clear. And now, as we embark on helping our clients overhaul their own brand experiences, we’re documenting us doing the same. 

Step 1: Communicating With Our Community 

Back in November of 2021, we launched our first annual brand survey. The actual development and strategy behind it took us about a month to pull together to ensure we were asking the right questions for our goals at the time. It was extensive, and to be honest, a bit longer than I’d have liked, but it gave us a ton of insight into who our current audience members were, what tools they used and platforms they spent their time on, what content they liked to consume, and what they thought of us. 

 

 

Apart from sporadic market research surveys we do when launching a new offer or program, this was my first glance in a while into how we were being perceived by our audience. 

Now, if you read the first part, this massive redirection of ours didn’t start until a month or so AFTER the survey, so our questions were geared more towards what we were doing before. That’s fine. I still learned a lot, and it was great seeing the community engagement, the validation on the results we were getting from participants who had worked with us, and learning more about the topics and types of content our audience likes to consume. 

Step 2: Competitive Analysis 

In the era of social media, it can feel like us business owners are always doing “competitive analysis”. Don’t get it twisted though, that’s just comparison. You may think you know what your competitors are doing (well and not so well), but taking the time to be strategic in your analysis is important. 

So we opened up one of our fave tools: Google Sheets 👍 and 5 new tabs to start researching our direct and indirect competitors. While we had an idea of who a couple of them would be, I wanted to keep my mind open to discover brands that I maybe hadn’t considered or knew about before. Things I was looking for were: 

  1. Same ideal client / target audience 
  2. Same content / discussion topics 
  3. Similar offerings / supporting people with the same problem or desire 

And once I had my 5 brands (I actually found 6 I wanted to dive deeper into for various reasons – two of them were in totally different industries but I was inspired by them and wanted to look at what I liked about them) I then looked at their offers, website, social platforms to identify: 

  • Strengths,
  • Weaknesses,
  • Brand, and
  • Top Performing Content

We’ll talk about Studio Crescent, a branding agency, in Phase 3, but we hired them and part of their process was to do a SWOT analysis on us too!

 

 

Now, with competitive analysis, it’s not about BECOMING your competitor. It’s about being aware to what others are doing, looking for opportunities and checking back into alignment with what works for YOU. You might be inspired by something a competitor does, but recognize that doesn’t make sense for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t pull ideas or rethink a solution to make your business stronger. 

Next up? Knowing Rebel Office can get where I want us to be faster and farther by outsourcing. 

Step 3: Bringing in Help to Refine It 

If there’s one thing us business owners learn pretty quickly, it’s that it’s ALWAYS easier to help others versus doing things for ourselves. And while I could have played around with brand messaging for this new elevated direction of ours, I was so wildly in my head about it. 

So I brought in the big guns 💪 Meet: Unruly Media Group. You’ll hear their name again in the Phase 5 update, but for now, let’s focus on how we brought Maritza and her team in to wrap up our Market Research phase and develop our brand messaging strategy. 

One of the biggest obstacles I’ve had over the last 6 years of building Rebel Office is clarity. I’ve always struggled to land on messaging and vision that felt like I would pour my entire life, heart and soul into. Let’s just say it’s been a real self discovery process. And with this direction of elevating client experiences feeling insanely aligned (finally) and me believing to my core the importance of the five phases that we’re breaking down in this blog series – I knew I needed to do this transition right. 

Something else I’ve learned over the years? I’m not always the best person to do things for Rebel Office. I’m too “in” it, you know? Could I? Absolutely. But now, I’m building Rebel Office to stand bigger than me. 

Maritza and Unruly Media Group used to be clients of ours and we’ve managed to grow pretty well alongside each other. It’s been absolutely amazing to watch them grow and I have always been in awe of Maritza’s marketing knowledge and her approach to doing what’s right – both as global citizens but also for their clients. We share the belief that what works for one business may not work for another, and that’s okay. And I love that. 

So bringing her in to help me refine our language around this new direction and pull together a content plan as we carve our a more defined area in this space was a no brainer. And what her team pulled together was pure magic. The content plan was top notch and such a time saver to have it all pulled together in a nice, neat strategy. But the best part for me? The brand messaging. All of our market research (and theirs) pulled together into such impactful brand statements that summarized everything I had in my brain into exactly what I wish they’d be. 

How We Do Market Research For Our Clients

So of course when we do things for our own businesses, it’s usually a little sloppier than when we work with our clients. This is true for literally every entrepreneur I’ve ever spoken with about it, so it makes me feel better about how we stumbled through our market research phase. And while we were doing a lot of self discovery and reworking strategy throughout this phase too, overall, I’m confident with us moving into the next phase with much more structure and clarity. 

There are so many ways to do market research (if you’re thinking of doing some but don’t know where to start, we have a manual for that along with a sample survey and tools breakdown). In my experience, 1:1 interviews and surveys are the best way to capture information. Data mining is great and is necessary, but ultimately takes time and we recommend outsourcing. 

And we’re no stranger to market research. A couple of years ago, Rebel Office was hired as an Economic Development Consultant for a municipality to perform a Business Retention & Expansion Report. Not only did I do external market research, but I had to outreach to and perform over 60 individual interviews with local business owners that took over an hour each before compiling that information into a report for Council and create a comprehensive list of recommendations. 

Going through that specific experience has shaped how we perform market research for our clients in our Custom Client Experience Design packages. No matter which of the three packages you pick, market research is step number one: 

  • The MONEY MAKER focuses on the design and build of a signature program like a mastermind or signature offer. It includes an offer specific survey for our client’s audience and past clients along with 5 1:1 interviews to allow us to not only make sure the offer is optimized, but also look at what elements they care about and what language they’re using for promotional purposes.

 

  • The GAME CHANGER is our mid-tier package that provides a full experience elevation and it includes an extended community survey and an extended client survey to capture feedback from both groups to monitor brand perception, refine content strategies and contribute to the optimization of client workflows.

 

  • The ICON is our top-tier package that provides a full experience overhaul (what we’re doing for ourselves), from website to funnels to elevating the systems and design of every single one of your offers. Market research for this package includes the two extended surveys (for community and clients) as in The GAME CHANGER package, but also includes 10 1:1 interviews with your current or past clients and community members. 

If you’re interested in learning more about these packages, visit here to explore which one is the best fit for you. 

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