Progressive Content’s Dan Davey challenges the idea of ‘good’ at Mindshare Huddle
“Pour yourself a gin and tonic and take a seat.”
Dan Davey’s opening to a seminar on content marketing was certainly unusual but attendees at Mindshare Huddle don’t come for run-of-the-mill marketing platitudes. It turned out that Dan was secretly conducting an experiment, the results of which he shared at the end of the session.
The 2016 event saw almost 2,000 clients, marketing professionals and media commentators take part in hundreds of ‘huddles’; each one intended to offer insight and be a forum where ideas could be shared. This year’s theme was simply ‘Good’ and sessions ranged from CSR to FinTech.
As CEO of Progressive Content, Dan was there to lead a session looking at whether good can be a limiting concept.
Good equals bad? It sounds ridiculous but Dan shared numerous examples of how an acceptance of good can lead to complacency. Being good enough to be the best can make businesses vulnerable.
Market leaders like Hoover and Nokia have been leapfrogged by innovators such as Dyson and Apple. The dominance of London’s traditional black cabs has been shattered by Uber.
The sporting world shows that there is more to success than constant technical innovation. The attitude of challenge, of looking beyond good, is what led to Team GB’s phenomenal cycling success. The focus on marginal gains meant questioning every aspect of the organisation. Sir Dave Brailsford was never satisfied with good, and the team’s medal haul is testament to such healthy dissatisfaction.
Dan led a discussion exploring how consumers (or clients) cannot always be trusted to be the final arbiters of whether a product or service is good enough. A quote often attributed to Henry Ford summed up the point:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses…”
Participants were quick to share first-hand accounts of brands that had fallen by the wayside due to complacency, as well as examples of clients who didn’t know what they really meant by ‘good’.
Dan’s own example, of how Progressive Content won a multi-million pound deal against 36 other agencies (despite having a headcount of just one person) showed the power of radically challenging a client’s perception of good, and how technology is constantly redefining what is possible.
The GOOD mnemonic captured the ideas that came out of the session and gave participants a checklist to enable their own mindset of helpful dissatisfaction.
Group: Identify all stakeholders who need to buy into the challenge/dissatisfaction mindset.
Objective: Be clear about the outcomes and benefits for each stakeholder group, and what you want to achieve.
Open: Be open to opinions, give people the power: to challenge, to suggest better ways, to own the process, to innovate.
Different: What have you done differently in the last year? Can you genuinely identify how you differ from the competition?
And, in the spirit of challenge, Dan offered a second mnemonic that took a different approach to being the BEST:
Be afraid: Embrace the positive power of paranoia.
Evolve: Put innovation at the centre of your business and challenge even the tiniest details.
Stand out: Constantly analyse your competitive set and understand your points of difference.
Technology: Keep on top of technology and use it to accelerate growth by exploiting the new opportunities it confers.
So why the gin and tonic?
A choice of Schweppes or Fever Tree tonic water was offered to the participants. Virtually every person chose Fever Tree, neatly proving the point that good sometimes just isn’t good enough (and that drinking gin can help you find a better way to work).