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Ven: Who We Want To Be

Darko March 5, 2019

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Today marks the launch day of Ven Digital. However, while our website, logo and company registration are new, our ethos and clients have been in the making and with us for some time.

This first post gives you an insight into what we’re all about.

Welcome to Ven.

Being an extension of the in-house team

I’ve worked with large and small brands alike as part of my agency and venture capital experience. One thing that seemed to generally ring true is that the larger the client, the less likely you are to be involved in their strategy. High-level targets and decisions are made separately in boardrooms, and those who do the work are valued mainly for their execution. This is still important, of course – but strategic brainpower and opportunities can often go wasted as a result.

With one of our first clients, things were different. While we originally came on board to help with paid advertising, our relationship developed quickly into one where we were helping out across the wider business. Before hiring in multiple places to fix multiple problems, the client asked for our input. This was unusual, but also made our jobs very interesting!

We weren’t able to help with everything, but the number of things where we could help that weren’t normally within our specialist areas of expertise, surprised even us. Obviously, this made us feel good – and this spirit of collaboration was infectious.

As great as this sounds, this was an unusual approach from an agency standpoint. These kind of cross-department discussions would normally stem from a C-level strategy meeting between client and agency, that would eventually get filtered down weeks or months later into some semblance of deliverable work. In our case, both sides trusted each other to just hop in and do the right thing. And not only was this fast, but the results were good. And importantly, the results felt good.

Decisions being made about how offline customer queries were handled, gave us opportunities to improve our digital messaging. Brainstorming ways to improve user experience online led to conversations about how this could positively impact the structure of our sales teams. This was made possible because our strategists were also the people delivering the execution. Over the months and years, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of our greatest impact was measured by organisational change rather than by numbers.

Intangible results are often the most satisfying

When I get asked or hear about jobs well done, there is a theme amongst agency professionals where these are measured in very specific, measurable ways:

“We increased ROI by 300% in our first year.”

“Our new design and imagery increased engagement on their website by 45%”

“Sales revenue doubled after we launched the new campaign.”

In the process of putting a summary presentation together, I came to an interesting realisation. Throughout our collaboration, we did improve a lot of these core metrics: we increased website visitors, increased campaign ROIs and helped test new methodologies for making our marketing better. But when I asked some of my client-side colleagues and my peers where we made the most difference, some of the answers sounded quite different to what I was used to.

“The information from visitors that we didn’t have before, really changed how we deal with queries that aren’t a straightforward sale. We don’t think about campaigns as just generating instant sales anymore.”

“Sitting down with you guys and working out what our customers want after they become leads, really helped shape what our future offline sales process looked like.”

Feedback like this is very difficult to put in a quantifiable way on a slide. There are no easy before-and-after numbers to compare, and many times when a company changes their processes, there’s no way to tell what the results would have been if they didn’t.

What we did, however, was help spark debate and challenge the status quo – sometimes in areas that weren’t our expertise. We helped question what the right thing to do was, and when we didn’t know we said as much and brought in a wider group to further the discussion. Slowly and incrementally, we were helping to bring about organisational change. It is difficult to quantify this, but I know that this felt better than any 200% increase in revenue ever could.

What it meant to us to be a trusted advisor

It is a great feeling to know that when it makes business sense not to go ahead with a piece of work, our commitment to the client doesn’t feel at odds with our role as an agency or as consultants. This sounds simple, but it’s difficult to achieve at agencies when contracts are negotiated and signed at one level and the work is executed at another. The person on the ground has a job to do and targets to hit, but you cannot force him or her to care.

Being genuinely interested in our clients and their businesses makes our jobs that much more fulfilling. It is the reason why I could tell you all about different models of warehouse safety equipment, the practical differences between membership tiers of a professional body and the way to spot the best stores to buy from on auction websites.

Connecting with our clients emotionally and understanding their priorities makes their job easier as well as ours, and is a sure-fire way to bond better as one team. The things you learn about someone else’s job are very relevant, and you never know when that knowledge reveals new opportunities to help each other.

You can trust us – we only sell what’s needed, and if something is a ‘nice-to-have’ we’ll make that clear. Our job first and foremost is to explain what we think is possible, rather than pretend to offer the world. When we get down to doing things, being open to different approaches will naturally show our eagerness to constantly learn from each other – and this spirit of collaboration can achieve amazing things.

Staying sharp and focused is also a reason why we take on a limited number of clients. Being passionate about our work and moving forward alongside like-minded clients allows us to thrive and get the best results. We want to work with people that also genuinely want to cultivate this collaborative and human approach – and our experience suggests that this lets us make the biggest difference.

Hello. We’re Ven, and this is who we want to be.

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