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5 essential tips to help startups get ahead from the tech VP of design firm Frog

Kyle Chua
5 essential tips to help startups get ahead from the tech VP of design firm Frog


At this year’s Digicon, Jona Moore shares 5 tips that are helping disruptors threaten the competition and dominate the market

Whether big or small, the ongoing coronavirus crisis hasn’t exactly been kind to brands. 

Jona Moore, the global vice president for technology at the US design and strategies firm Frog, however, said that it’s in the face of such uncertainty and adversity that these brands are given an opportunity to innovate and evolve. 

In her talk at Digicon on October 5, titled “The Disruption Playbook,” Moore said that in order for incumbent brands to make it through these difficult times, they must “self-disrupt” with customer experience.

And they must do it all while taking into account how the needs of their customers have changed in the last 6 months and what they plan to do to address them. 

Digicon 2020 is an annual conference tackling the intersection of digital platforms, e-commerce, and digital marketing, running from October 5 to 9, 2020.

Why customer experience

Moore said that during the 2007 to 2008 financial crisis, shareholders of brands that invested in the customer experience saw significantly higher returns than those that didn’t. 

Customers are moving towards brands that can offer them a satisfying and seamless customer experience. 

For Moore and her colleagues at Frog, the best way to keep clients’ customers coming back is by understanding and anticipating their needs. 

While there’s still value in traditional market research and analysis, Moore argues that it’s better to open one’s mind and think about the world “as it could be” rather than what’s “expected”. 

Instead of thinking about competitors and opportunities, the idea is to put the customers’ needs at the very center.

Moore added that at Frog, they learn about the customers’ needs through different research methods, which involve immersion, conducting reality checks for hypotheses, collecting contextual data, and building rapport. She said they adjusted to remote research when the pandemic hit, adjusting to new methods while not losing the essence of what they want to do, which is to listen sharply to customer needs.

Disruptor strategies

Moore also shared the 5 essential strategies from Frog’s so-called “Disruptor Playbook”:

The first strategy is to treat the product as a service and vice versa. Take for instance Spotify, which has 113 million subscribers, said Moore. Spotify delivers a product (music) but the way it does so is through good, fast, affordable service.

The product is the millions of songs in its catalog, all delivered to the consumer through a fast sign-up process, and through a streaming service that rarely experiences problems paired with a modern design. It’s a perfect fusion of product and service, and that’s why it’s a hit.

Second is to differentiate on experience. Moore believes that, with a lot of markets becoming more saturated and crowded over the years, it’s important for brands to distinguish themselves for their target customers. 

Going back to the Spotify example, there may be other platforms there that deliver the same product. In its space, there’s Apple Music, Deezer or Tidal. It’s a tight space, so crafting a unique experience is truly necessary to help one stand out.

Does your service make it easy to share what you’re listening to on social media? Do you have the best playlist management tools? Does your platform offer the best audio quality? A platform typically can’t be all of these things at once. But if it could find a strength to work on, then that would lead to it being able to fully differentiate itself from others.

Third on Moore’s playbook is to find the purpose customers are buying a product or using a service and create offerings that meet those needs under one unifying ecosystem or brand. This goes back to knowing your target customer like the back of your hand.

Say your service offers ultra high quality audio. But to do so, it would mean you’d have to charge a premium. Is your target customer willing to spend more or are they more attracted to a cheaper service even if the audio quality isn’t technically the best?

Fourth is to “unbundle” the journey to create an optimized experience. It essentially means making everything as easy, seamless, and hassle-free as possible so customers are satisfied. 

Now, when you have a product that’s unique, and you’ve built a quality service experience for your customer, the next thing to do is to polish the rough edges or plug holes where they may emerge. Consumers constantly evolve and so do needs. If a product isn’t evolving with the customer, there’s always that risk that they’ll jump ship to another one offering an experience that’s smoother and more optimized.

Moore closes the loop in her last step: keep communicating and interacting with customers in ways they might find meaningful. It’s a way for customers to feel like they’re being treated well. Analog or digital, that’s simply a classic move for retaining customers.

Communicating with the customer may also bring in new insights, and helps you keep a pulse on what they like and don’t like. Products start by listening to people’s needs. They thrive by never stopping to listen intently.

Moore said that brands must pivot and change not only as a reaction to the crisis but also to stay relevant in whatever may happen in the future. –

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