I then put my insights together in a slideshow to present to the company’s executive team. My role in the meeting was to tell them the story of my journey with their brand. During a previous discovery call, my business development representative had identified that one of the company’s major focuses for the next one to five years was the huge gap it felt it had with Millennials. This may have made my experience resonate a bit more with the executives because I gave them my perspective on what the brand meant to me as a Millennial. Maybe more importantly, I pointed out where it didn’t connect with me at all and needed improvement.
I told them about how my mom was in town the weekend I went to their store and had to document my in-store experience. She said, “It’s so funny that you’re doing this, because when you were little, you used to make your own version of [the company’s products]. You would always draw their logo on the back. I don’t know what you thought it meant then, but it made your creations a little cooler.” In the presentation to the executive team, I started with that story because I knew that my follow-up script was going to include some tough love, and I wanted them to know that I had always cared about their brand, even when I was only five or six years old.
When I finished with my presentation, there was total silence. It was like a scene out of a movie: A very long table with 25 people sitting at it, including the CMO and CIO, all of whom were staring straight back at me. I think it took some people at the table by surprise how much research and time I’d invested prior to meeting them. After about 30 seconds that felt more like 10 minutes, I said, “Thank you very much for your time,” and went to sit down. A woman in the room said, “Oh, no, no, no. You get back up there. We have questions for you.”
They asked me questions like, “Would your experience have been better with us if there was no mobile app at all?” And I said, “Well, I’ll answer two ways. One, yes. Logically I wouldn’t have felt the pain in the store, of entering my information multiple times, only to realize the app wouldn’t read it or save it. But it is equally important for me to note that the brands I interact with the most have an amazing mobile app presence, and I use them all the time because they make it really easy to do business with them. These brands also make it effortless for me to pull up the information I need about myself when it comes to their company.”
I wasn’t up there with a sales hat on. I was up there as a customer of their brand and as a Millennial — and as someone whose opinion they wanted to hear. I wasn’t shoving product down their throat. But being able to say to them “By the way, my company has a platform that can help you with all of this,” was just a bonus. It gave us a lot of credibility and took what could have been a very small conversation and project, and broadened the scope of the opportunity tremendously.