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Red Pill Insight+Marketing: What’s In A Name?



Greetings from Glasgow! So what’s Red Pill Insight+Marketing all about?

It’s high time there were more Red Pill blog posts. Whether relating to business and marketing in general, or specifically referring to the world of customer surveys and other marketing research, you’ll find my observations and thoughts here. Maybe even a wee rant or two.

Life’s full of contradictions. Which doesn’t sit well with me. In my private life, I like seeing the world in black and white rather than multiple shades of grey. ‘Good luck with that’, I hear you say!

But the world doesn’t work like that and marketing researchers are well aware of this. In fact, it’s probably a major reason for the passion and inquisitiveness displayed by research professionals. When I’ve got my ‘research’ hat on, I love going on journeys of exploration into these aforementioned shades to see what can be gleaned and passed onto clients to help their businesses.

It’s widely bandied about in marketing circles that customers don’t care about the companies who seek to do business with them. Neither do they give a toot about the specific products and services offered. They couldn’t care less about what companies are up to on social media and don’t want to be interrupted by one-way outbound marketing tactics.

That’s fair enough.

But then there’s another school of thought: one which has relevance for professional services such as marketing research and even more relevance for individual consultants like myself. And that is: at the end of the day, people do business with other people. Not a specific widget or thingamabob, but a living, (hopefully) breathing person. And to do that, they do want to know a bit more about the person interacting with them.

Pleased to meet you. Favourite team and biscuit details missing. Just as well.
Pleased to meet you. Favourite team and biscuit details missing. You’ll have to guess – if you actually care…

That doesn’t mean however that marketing agencies should fall into the trap of having their staff disclose their favourite football or rugby team, music, or chocolate biscuit on the corporate website in an effort to present a more cuddly and personable image. But they do (sigh). As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, what’s the point? I’m not interested if someone prefers Jaffa Cakes over Hob Nobs; I care about whether they can do the job. Plus, there’s the big risk that opinions will be formed on this that are driven by emotion rather than good reason. It’s superficial and it fools nobody.

What IS valued however – especially in the context of individuals earning a crust – is understanding a consultant’s mission, values, driving beliefs and so on. This is far more useful for one of my potential clients to understand rather than knowing whether I prefer listening to Within Temptation rather than Taylor Swift.

So in the spirit of marketing ‘glasnost’, I’ll directly address something which you may have already asked yourself upon visiting the website or seeing me on Twitter or LinkedIn:

“What’s with the ‘Red Pill’ moniker?”

Now you’ve opened a can of worms…

Go on, take it! See reality…through your customers!

I’m guessing that a number of you have seen The Matrix at some point. That’s the movie with Keanu Reeves playing Neo, the computer hacker who meets the mysterious and enigmatic Morpheus. Morpheus presents Neo with two choices: he can swallow a blue pill, and return to the world that he thinks he lives in. Alternatively, he can take the red pill and discover reality. A reality that is disconcerting but nonetheless truthful.

There are two reasons why I felt it perfectly encapsulated what I wanted to convey in terms of positioning, values etc.

Firstly, there’s a need for companies to understand where they really stand in the minds of their most important audience: their customers. Yep, those folk who decide whether you have food on your table, and can pay your bills. These are the people who’ll tell you what’s good, what’s bad and what needs to change regarding your products and services.

It’s very easy for Company Owners and Directors to fall in love with their offerings and fail to see things impartially because they’ve been so closely involved with it. Whether it’s ignorance, lack of time, lack of money, lack of knowledge, or a combination of all these, it’s easy to make excuses. But to steadfastly continue on a pre-set journey without seeking feedback from the very people that determine whether the company continues to trade? It’s crazy, right?

Customer research offers companies their own ‘reality check’. They get the perspective they need to move forward and succeed. Often it’s much needed. This is conveyed in my strapline: ‘See reality…through your customers. Take the Red Pill.’ Pretty straightforward really, isn’t it?

Secondly, and on a more personal level, it sums myself up pretty well. I’m not one for rose-tinted glasses. I like reality. I like seeing exactly which way the land lies. I abhor BS. And I’m not one for having the wool pulled over my eyes. And likewise, I don’t want my clients feeling the same.

I want Red Pill Insight+Marketing to be the most recognised, trusted, and authoritative provider of customer research and insight services among the SME business community. The ‘must go to’ insight provider. Both here in Glasgow, and around the country.

My brand ‘essence’ is that of straightforward, down-to-earth, research and marketing assistance to help you on your way to increased revenue and profits. There’s no nonsense but plenty of help, encouragement and enlightenment along the way.

Perhaps I should have called the business ‘Honest Broker Research+Marketing’ instead: what do you think?

So there you have it. Red Pill bared for all and sundry to see.

If you’ve got any questions either about this blog post, or other marketing and research issues, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can do so either by email, or on Twitter or hunting me down on LinkedIn.

Now, what’s coming up for future blog posts?

In no particular order, the following upcoming blog posts will focus on:-

  • Beds That Go Bump In The Night: comparing Serco’s Caledonian Sleeper (seated) with Stagecoach’s Megabus Gold (probably a post for each)
  • You Know You’re In Trouble When…  – social media and content marketing
  • A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing – the difference between knowing something and really knowing what you’re talking about.
  • Small business research and the Market Research Society

There’s also more research-related stuff. I’m currently wondering whether to publish them as blog posts or as standalone pages on the website. Time will tell.

Got a few minutes to spare? Here’s the famous Red Pill vs Blue Pill scene from The Matrix.  And if you’ve more time, here’s the parody in which Neo seems to have got a heck of a lot younger!

Until next time…and there will be a next time!

10.7.14 Up and Running




Greetings from Glasgow! Hello one and all!

Here at Red Pill HQ in Glasgow it’s been a non-stop whirlwind of web development, content writing, and image creation for the past month or two. If you’ve had a look around the site, thanks for your time and I hope you’ve found it interesting and more importantly, relevant to your business. That’s the whole point of the website, as well as the business, so it had better be!

As marketers and business people, your time is the most precious commodity around. To that end, fancy – and distracting – whizz-bang fads were most certainly not going to make an appearance on the site. ‘Simple and uncluttered’ is the way to go, at least for Red Pill.

It’s likely that a great number of website visitors will be people in SME’s with marketing responsibilities with little previous exposure to customer research and insight, and now have to get to grips with it. It was important to acknowledge this. Whilst other agencies will continue to travel along the tired old “Look at Us! Aren’t we brilliant ?!” website journey, Red Pill has gone the other way. There’s more focus on explaining key customer marketing concepts, their importance, and the need for good customer insight to drive better marketing decisions.

That was another reason for the simplicity of the layout. When I was younger (ah memories…) and I was on a company’s website seeking information (for interviews; background info for pitches; you name it) I’d often be copying and pasting text into an MS Word document for easier, more organised reading, rather than printing out web pages with unnecessary graphics alongside. You get the picture.

Well it’s the same idea here. I figured there’d be plenty of customer research and marketing rookies who’d appreciate the same. And if you’re from another marketing agency, you’re free to take a peek also. Just keep your hands off the content! 😛

But it also goes deeper. You’ll have seen already there’s something more than customer research going on with Red Pill. There’s attitude. Dispensing with the BS and concentrating on what’s really important to you and your business. Granted, it’s often hard for you to do this when drowning in a sea of ever-increasing virtual content. Did you know the internet doubles in size every hundred days? And as for the quality – and veracity – of the content, that’s another matter entirely.

But at the heart of Red Pill IM is the real desire to work with new and established SME’s. They’re the lifeblood of the economy and – in my experience – far more enjoyable and worthwhile to work with. Despite what the mainstream media tries to tell us, it doesn’t feel like there’s much recovery on the British streets and in households. We’re in a very uncertain economic situation that unfortunately the vast majority of people don’t really understand. But the economics is for another time and another blog post.

Let it just be said, that both now and in the future, SME’s are VITAL to our economy. We’re only going to see an increase in the number of people starting their own businesses in the coming years. Whether this is as a result of turning one’s back from corporate slavery, or to fulfil a burning ambition, is another matter. There’s also the distinct possibility that increasing numbers of people will have to start their own business in addition to a full-time day job, to try and meet the ever-increasing cost of living – becoming entrepreneurs by necessity.

In such circumstances, it’s so important that entrepreneurs and SME marketers ‘get’ the need to understand customers more, so they can drive sales and make less costly errors along the way. As Jay Conrad Levinson (the Guerrilla Marketing Godfather himself) says, “Ignorance is more expensive than paid research.” If you’re a new or established SME and haven’t conducted any customer research in the past, please, please, please take those words to heart.

Anyway, enough for now. And here you were thinking there would be a nice fluffy first blog post talking about pretty web designs!

That said, now that a lot of the pages have been populated the homepage will be getting its new ‘frock’ to wear. Watch out for this in the next week or so.

Thanks, and I look forward to you taking the Red Pill journey with me. Strap yourself in.