Sunday, November 14, 2010

what clients really want from an agency

Whether your client sells cookies or cakes, the crack of the bat, a closer look at the Liberty Bell or insurance that pays for your next fender bender, clients are asking for the same few things.

Why can't we just give them to our clients and start a beautiful new relationship?

This week I had the chance to attend a breakfast program sponsored by the Philadlelphia Ad Club at the Union League in downtown Philadelphia. The panel consisted of directors of strategy and marketing officers from Wawa, Tasty Baking(makers of krimpets and tandytakes), the Phillies, PA Tourism and Cure Auto Care. Heavyweights, one and all presiding over the group consisting of a couple hundred people.

During the Q&A, one brave soul asked what everyone in the assembled audience(at least the ad agency people in attendance) wanted to know.

What could agencies do or say to get your attention? Of course, meaning, what would agencies in the area need to do to crack the ranks of these highly visible and beloved brands?

Here's what several had to say:

1. "Nimbleness"--clients are trying to do more with less and want agencies that are fast on their feet and can stay a few steps ahead of the game. My problem is that everyone--including agencies--claim to be nimble and frankly it's often more wishful thinking than actually delivered. So my advice is to "prove how you deliver nimbleness" in some consistent fashion.

2. Fast and Cheap--I know. Nobody likes to hear this. And while I think "fast and cheap" isn't the makings of greatness, it IS a reality of what clients are looking for. I think the edge goes to agencies that can deliver fast and cheap(can we say cost effective) but still deliver them as a idea that propels the brand.

3. Get me closer to the customer--clients know that fortunes turn on a companies ability to deliver on an unmet need, want or wish of the customer and only a deep insight can get companies closer to doing so. Agencies would be smart of conduct some research or qualititative studies to unearth insights or motivations a client might not even know about. Insights are the edge and clients love it when their agency are the ones who can help connect clients to them.

4. Help me stay up to date. There's so much to know and so much to keep up on, clients don't always have the time for due diligence to stay up to date. Agency can win some favor if it can serve as a resource to timely and valuable industry information that could make the client look good or make a more informed decision. Knowledge is power. Shared knowledge can be even more powerful for an agency looking for a way in.
5. Play nice with others. Clients now have so many vendors in place that it's important the each one play nice with others and contribute to the greater good of the group in a collaborative and cooperative manner. Territoriality is still a real aspect of relationships, but agencies need to be confident enough in what they do to still step up and be a good partner to others, including the client. It's makes life easier for the client and it makes for a more valuable end product--which makes everyone look good in the end.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Playback in Vegas

Been a spirited few days in Vegas at a branding conference exploring the latest thinking on where brands are going in today's marketplace. Lots of juice. Good amount of reality checks. And a parade of really talented and articulated brand marketers with strong points of view. If speakers were beverages, we saw Coke Classic, A&W Root Beer, Naked, Jones Soda, and Monster.

Back in town. Back at work. Back to class. See you soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm Leaving for Vegas

Countdown to ManageCamp Conference in Las Vegas. Great line-up of speakers. First time with ManageCamp so I hope it's everything it's promoted to be. Line up and speaker videos are available at

Anyone with any insider tips on "must do's" in Vegas. Keep it PG13!

G to the K

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Game On! Tuesday, Sept. 14th

UArts class has re-engaged! Thought we'd use Kopius Notes to keep in touch through the week and talk a little shop between classes.

From last night: Strategy is all about the "how." It's the creative thinking that happens before the creative thinking. Every ad we see leaves clues as to what works and what doesn't. Hopefully you'll never just "look" at an ad or commercial again without trying to break it down into its essential parts, and figure out what's at work.

For next week: 1 ad that hits and a one-pager why; 1 ad(or piece of communication) that misses and a "fix the miss" version, as we did in class, on another piece of paper(simple sketch and layout). Include one-pager describing why you did what you did. Lastly, decide on your three "passion brands." What brands do you have great passion for? Prepare to talk about them and tell us why you have such positive feelings for the brand. No writing necessary. Just know your 3 brands.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

why meetings rot your brain (and waste your time)

This from "Rework" by 37Signals, page 108. Please share with anyone you're planning to meet with anytime soon:

Why meetings are toxic:

•They're usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things
•They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute
•They drift off-subject easier than a Chicago cab in a snowstorm
•They require thorough preparation that most people don't have time for
•They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal
•They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone's time with nonsense
•Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another...

I share this as much for me as for anyone I meet with(I promise not to feed into these if you promise too). If we seriously must work in a "do more with less" environment, I suggest we edit this notion to read "do more, waste less." As in waste less of all of our time.

That is all.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

graphic facilitation

While in Chicago at a conference last week, I came across an actual job title for something I've been doing my entire life during meetings. This thing? Doodling. Except a speaker at the innovation conference talked about different learning styles and the popularity of a visual way to absorb and process a meeting or brainstorming sessions. A "graphic facilitator" is someone who listens, synthesizes and draws what (s)he hears being said during the meeting. The benefit to participants? It's something of a "group mind map" of the direction of the meeting that allows people to easily track the flow of the meeting and do so in a very provocative, easy to follow way. To my surprise there are people out there right now who do graphic facilitation as a full-time job. Personally, I thing graphic facilitation is another example of what I'm feeling as a backlash to full-tilt technology. There is something engaging, disarming, charming about simple lines telling simple stories.

Check out how graphic facilitation works by plugging in "graphic facilitation" on YouTube. Give it a try and see if it helps your next big meeting. If so, let me know (if you want me to hang out at your meeting and draw on the wall, let me know). I tried it last week at a meeting that was half live bodies in the room and several on a conference call. It was a nice way to capture the spirit and trajectory of the meeting (at least for those of us in the room in PA). Also made it very easy for people in PA to speak to people in FLA about points made in the meeting's over last 90 minutes.