First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Adrien Caron: Thank you for asking. Our team members are all safe and sound, and we consider ourselves lucky.
Some of our close relatives had to deal with this nasty virus personally, but all have thankfully recovered quite quickly.
However, on our partners & clients side, we have already been told a few too many times that our contacts were either no longer working with the company or, even worse that the company was claiming bankruptcy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded RealCRO.
Adrien Caron: I have developed my passion for performance through Sports.
Seven years as a member of the French national Judo team (-19 and -23yrs) taught me that with the right support, hard work combined with perseverance & determination can help me achieve my goals.
After graduating with a Bachelor degree in Performance Management, I dreamt of an Olympic gold medal, but amateur Sports is very challenging, and the expected ROI, except for the thrill and self-satisfaction, is often very low.
Instead, I decided to launch a Sports marketing agency in Paris to support athletes from amateur sports with gaining media, social & financial recognition.
I have been based in Japan for 7 years now, and together with amazing Mar-Com professionals who also believe that effective communication can solve most of our current social, environmental & economic problems, we have founded RealCRO, an international & integrated Marketing communications agency helping foreign brands to enter and expand in Japan & APAC and Japanese companies to go global.
How does RealCRO innovate?
Adrien Caron: Innovation comes in many shapes, from product to usage innovation. At RealCRO, we embrace the Japanese concept of “Kaizen” which aims at “changing for the better” by continuously improving the way we act.
Based on this and other agile principles, we have developed our own methodology, which we called the USA for Understand – Seek – Act. This three-step methodology helps us to stay focused on the objectives while effectively looking for efficient solutions to solve any issue that comes our way.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Adrien Caron: Well, our global economy has been severely impacted, as we all know, yet some businesses, especially pure players, have benefited from this “crisis” while many others, unfortunately, are suffering.
At our level, we try to stay focused and united since unity is key to overcoming challenging situations.
Of course, there were doubts, but we did not have to drastically change our Operations since we were already using cloud-based tools to manage our projects.
Our clients & partners in industries like travel, tourism or food & beverage had their operations completely stopped almost overnight and for almost a year now, which of course, adds a level of uncertainty that we had never experienced before.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Adrien Caron: We decided to stay together no matter what. While some leaders, if not most, unfortunately, get rid of people every time they see an opportunity to increase shareholder profits, we strongly believe that “Together Everyone Achieves More” and we intend to prove it every day. Our challenge was to quickly develop a contingency plan and a new cash flow forecast to help us sustain our ongoing operations.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Adrien Caron: We use several tools, but the most important is “common sense” and “trust”. I am not going to promote any software or project management tool here because while some can indeed be of great help, what really makes a difference is how, why & who powers it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Adrien Caron: At RealCRO, we believe that we are our only competitors, and we often use the following quote to illustrate it: “If we compete with others we become bitter, while when we compete with ourselves we become better”.
We try to stay true to our vision which is: “to encourage brands to achieve ethical & sustainable performance by creating reciprocal opportunities.” and we always welcome the opportunity to create reciprocal opportunities together with other players in our industry. Our real objective is not to cross the finish line before X, Y or Z players but to cross it first instead.
Your final thoughts?
Adrien Caron: Allow me to conclude with our motto, philosophy & goal.
Motto: “Passion + Integrity = Legacy”
Philosophy: “Our only limits are time & Imagination”
Goal: “To be fearlessly authentic & Create Reciprocal Opportunities”
With so many communications now channels and content available to us at our fingertips, it longer matters WHO gets access to information first but WHAT one does with it instead.