When Decathlon, a 10 billion (yes, with a b) euro sporting goods company, with over forty years of success and stores all over the world, decided to launch in the U.S. it’s safe to assume they’d have their choice of agencies.
When a company is more than a company, when it is built on values and promises and beliefs that put people over profits, it’s safe to assume they’ll choose carefully.
At Blue Like Neon, we believe that everything we build, every experience, has at its core a relationship. Between a consumer and a product, a company and its desired audience, between us and a client. When that relationship is valued and honored, the best experiences result. We bring that to every project, big or small, and were most excited about working with Decathlon because of that shared belief. Here’s how it unfolded.
It’s not surprising to us that another relationship started it all. We’ve been advocates and [evangelists for Shopify] for years. We’re part of their expert partner network and love championing their best-in-class e-commerce solutions. Reciprocity of excellence is a good thing. We trust them, they trust us.
That kind of support matters. When Decathlon was looking for an agency to partner with, our deep roots in the Shopify community meant we were encouraged to put in a proposal.
Start with Heart
Putting together great proposals is part of any business strategy. Selling your agency, your team and your capabilities. Showing why and how you provide value and results. References, work examples, scopes. There’s a lot that’s the same for every agency.
But, we like to do things a bit differently at Blue Like Neon. Yes, we are a deeply experienced team. Yes, we’ve worked with multinationals and multimillion dollar companies. Yes, that feels awesome.
At the center of our business is heart. We care about people. We want to work with people who care about people. We wanted to win the project by showing how we take care of people, from our client to their customer. When businesses match on that? It’s magic. An essential piece of any Blue Like Neon proposal is leading with heart, just like Decathlon, and that’s an alignment you just can’t beat.
So beyond putting together a killer, competitive proposal, we got on a plane. With just a few days in the Bay Area to check out the future start of Decathlon’s U.S. presence, we hopped up to say hi, hear what they were dreaming about and talk about how we could help. And later we headed to France to get to know them better.
Behind a Good Business is Good People
And, over the course of the months we spent working together, we learned that our gut about Decathlon was spot on. Since its founding, the values of the company have been lived out. They make the best products they can so more and more people can play sports. Employees are loyal, challenged and supported. Communities thrive where they build. Smart packaging and shipping help protect natural resources. And their ultimate goal, to bring sports to more people through affordable products, is achieved year after year.
It’s a special kind of project where both companies can comfortably and confidently lead with the heart. We love those kinds of projects.
In part, we love those projects because we know we’ll do an incredible job. That’s where love meets logic and the BLN approach makes a difference.
Removing Obstacles with Smart Approaches
Decathlon strives to makes sports accessible. It’s a seriously noble goal about having fun. Their success is also built on how they work to live that mission. They’ve thoroughly and thoughtfully examined elements of research, design, manufacturing, sales and service.
Beyond alignment on WHY we do the work we do and WHO we want to partner with, we were a smart choice for Decathlon because of HOW we work.
Small and distributed teams like ours have some serious advantages. People generally point to less overhead. Yes, that’s true. But that’s just the start.
When you work with a small team, you work with real people. Having a team designed on leadership (that’s us) meant Decathlon could feel confident they could talk to the people working on their project, not jump through communication hoops and layers of hierarchy. Need to talk to one of us? We’re here. Hey!
In terms of goals, they wanted and needed fresh perspective as they prepped for launching in the West Coast. Beyond being fluent in West Coast, we could offer clear vision, objective insights on brand guidelines. Beyond being potential (now actual!) Decathlon customers based on our team demographics and personal passions, we aren’t a specialized sporting agency. But experience, and experiences comes in all sizes. With vast capabilities ranging across project size and scope, we’ve worked with small clients who lead in their fields and also $100m+ companies.
Small and large businesses tend to like us for the same reason, they get our experience and they get a positive experience. We can offer high quality and high value at a better speed and price with better connections and relationships.
We can get our team immersed into things. The BLN leadership were able to head to France to witness in their way of working. [See our insights here].
How We Work Worked for Decathlon
And in terms of process, they were looking working across countries and timezones. Again, we knew we were good at that. Having a small team meant Decathlon could onboard quickly without the cumbersome processes of larger agencies. They could talk to the people working on their project, not jump through communication hoops and layers of hierarchy. Need to talk to one of us? We’re here. Hey!
We leveraged our house built tool, Projectory, and Google docs to not only create transparency of tasks, deliverable and assets but also foster a collaborative environment where good ideas ruled the day and schedules, deliverables and milestones could be clearly communicated and easily found.
Simple thing like getting agendas our in advance helped people prepare for meetings and bring good questions to the table, and techy things like Google Hangouts put faces to the people managing the project. Talking, and laughing, through things helps prevent items from getting lost in translation. (We loved when we’d be ‘validated,’ the Decathlon team’s way of saying something was approved.)
The End Game
It’s important to believe in the work that you do.
We think it’s equally important to believe in the people you do it for. BLN is a company of love and logic. We’re thrilled with the result of our collaboration with Decathlon, a similarly minded crew of great people, and are now devoted Decathlon customers, too! Just [ask Matt] about his running shoes.
Want to see how we can champion your business and your business goals? Reach out. We’d love to talk.