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.


Monday, April 19, 2010

One of those days

Pack a healthy, homemade lunch. Leave it in a plastic bag on the steps at home. Drive to work without it.

Desktop computer at work melts down, "logicworks" gone awry. Cool sizzling sound, I must admit.

General malaise.

Which is ten times more troublesome than a corporal malaise.

Here's to tomorrow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

if you wanna see you gotta look

Cape May, New Jersey. Last summer. Minutes after a rainstorm blew through. Good thing I had my camera. This little beauty presented itself in between two buildings once the sun broke through. Stroke of luck an old-time viewfinder thing happen to be there, AND I had my camera.

Just a friendly reminder that you can plan an "ideation" session everyday of the week and not have an inspirational moment like this hit you plain in the face.

The secret of creativity? Who knows. I do know that it's the randomness of it all sometimes that makes it a truly blessed event.

Now go create...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Mile Marker i.e. Birthday

My birthday came and went this week. It made me think of a cartoon I did a few weeks ago.

While it's not as quite as dire a realization as a skateboard growing up to be a hotel cart, birthdays do remind me to stay at it. Keep my eye on the prize. While things like a down economy and mounting school tuitions force me(and my wife) to be resourceful, another passing year is a clear signal to "keep moving, keep grinding and keep having fun on the ride."

Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Two words to survive by

We hear a lot about the chasm that exists between those with a digital orientation and those who still cling to traditional ways. Yes, it has something to do with the generational gap (i discovered a recent hire in our interactive department was born the same year I graduated college, damn!), but I now know that age is a total cop out when it comes to playing in today's game. Age simply doesn't matter in the grand scheme. Seriously.

Take Brent Musburger. He's 70 years old but he's still considered among the upper echelon of broadcasters. He's still got game. Still plugged in. When asked by a younger colleague over dinner one night following a game they covered, "what is your secret for surviving this long in the business?" Brent replied with just two words.

"Stay interested."

In other words, even if you're not personally interested in things like the ShamWow, Lady GaGa, crowdsourcing or cloud computing, you have to figure out what it is that make all of these so interesting to others. What do they all mean? What trends are they signaling? What's the deeper insight into each and what is it teaching us in terms of culture and marketing? All this is crucial to success especially if you play in the innovation space.

In other words, if you want to stay relevant, stay interested. Because trust me, I've seen first hand that it doesn't take long for even young guns to turn into old farts if you don't take time to keep your head in the game.

Thanks, Brent.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Making plays in small places, eh?

The Canadian Olympic Ice Hockey was supposed to win the gold medal in Vancouver, so there's really no surprise there, right? Actually, there was. The way they did.

After losing to the U.S. early on, it was gut check time for Sidney Crosby and the Canadian team. In the final game against the U.S., the pundits identified the reason the Canadians were able to prevail: the were able to make plays in small places.

I love what this expression means: Making plays in small places. In the context of the game, it meant winning the battles in the corners and around of the net. Winning in all the pivotal places that could turn the game in your favor. I believe the same could apply to business, professional development and innovation. Companies and employees that learn to "make plays in small places" make all the difference between winning and losing. Between growing and being stuck. Between standout careers and vanilla careers. Whether we know it or not, every day we have chances to make plays in small places. In the clutch, do you battle or give in? Do you stick to your guns and make things better or do you fold up your tent and catch the first train home? The decisions we make, the battles we choose to engage in, the effort we put in to add value at any and every stage of a project. In today's "doing more with less" business world, "making plays in small places" is the answer to getting the gold. Frankly, THAT'S what doing more with less means is all about.

Great teams, great companies, great people know how to do it. It's what separates players like Sidney Crosby from everyone else. They put their mind to it every day. IN every situation. It's a part of their DNA.

What plays in small places will you make today?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Personal growth: game on!

In times like these, the need to reinforce your core strengths and build additional strengths is critical. Since we work with Peirce College in Philly, helping people get their Bachelor's Degree and create a career path for themselves, we play frequently in this sandbox.

The sandbox is getting bigger.

I've noticed recently that places like Phoenix (see banner ad), Strayer and now Kaplan University are turning up the heat. These places aren't your traditional universities. They're a new breed of educational resource that is catering to the non-traditional students out there who may not have the time or resources to attend college the way college was done in the past. Point being, personal growth isn't reserved for just MBA-seekers. I particularly like what Phoenix is doing ( They're absolutely working very hard to build a brand. To that point, this is an awesome photo of a woman with a look of determination in her eyes you don't usually see in typical stock photos used in most college viewbooks.

Personal growth is big. Where else do you see this trend going on?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Room to Grow

On Friday, March 12th, we're putting together a morning workshop all about growth: personal, professional and brand. Three presenters will be Sarah Rottenberg of Jump Associates, Rosemary Healy of AhHa! Insights and AJ Schultz, digital and experience strategist at Backe. Program is sponsored by Philly Business Journal and will be held at Backe offices in Radnor, Pa.

More soon.

Save the date. gk

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Workshops that work harder

What can I say? It's been too long since I've posted. My bad. With stuff going on, and in the case of snowstorms, stuff coming down, I've been easily distracted. So I'll mount a comeback baby steps at a time.

The first one? What is it that makes for a memorable workshop or seminar?

I recently moderated a workshop that asked this question. It was at the Drexel LeBow School of Business, and the goal was to develop as many new ideas for alumni programs as possible. Our objective was to figure out new ideas for events that Drexel alums would want to attend and perhaps talk about afterwards. We began the brainstorm with some basic questions around the elements that people believed contributed to events like a workshops or professional development events that people remembered and found valuable. The results were so basic and fundamental to what we humans look for in events like these, I thought I'd share them:

1) A great opening
Seems obvious, but many participants spoke about great events they've been to in the past that opened with a bang and never looked back. Sometimes, the first 15 minutes of a presentation can dictate its success. So it's worth taking the time to figure out a great "ice breaker" to get things rolling. Is there a great opening exercise, even a silly one, that gets people to exhale and relax?

2) Active engagement
Don't just leave the audience sitting there. We talked about how programs we've been to got us moving around, mingling as a way to get everyone engaged. I attended a Fast Company event in Florida a while back where they sent me an attendee package in the mail with information and a Burnt Sienna Crayola crayon. i was to bring the crayon with me to the event and seek out other Burnt Siennas in the crowd. The tactic got me engaged, and I was able to meet dozens of other attendees in search of my group. Fun tactic.

3) Learn something you didn't already know
Again, pretty simple. But difficult. In planning you're event, can you see to it that everyone who attends will learn at least one thing they didn't know before? Recently, I attended an Innovation Summit in Philadelphia and discovered that after attending two of the workshops, I was able to scribbled at least three insights or pieces of information I wasn't aware of or found valuable. The event for these reasons was worth the time spent.

4) An unexpected delivery
One of the attendees at the LeBow brainstorm talked about how at a motivational workshop, organizers included a Baptist preacher to address the crowd. The attendees were blown away by the unexpected tactic and seeing someone they wouldn't normally expect to see at such a corporate event. Does your workshop have that kind of "wow factor?"

5) Shake off the baggage you walked in the room with
Let's fact it, workdays aren't what they used to be. For most, they're jammed with stressful meetings, new business meetings and exhausting challenges that can take a lot out of you. People attend professional development workshops or seminars to be energized and uplifted with new possibilities. Fresh perspectives. Of course, people need to learn and find value in programs, but presenters and speakers need to help people lighten the load they walked into the room with. Give me reasons to lean forward in my chair, get excited and get back out there with a renewed spirit. Perhaps delivering useful information and helpful insights in an entertaining way is the way to go. Sometimes, all people want is an escape, so why not give it to them?