January 13, 2014
7 Myths to Avoid for Growth in 2014
1. “New Business is a Numbers Game” – Bah, humbug. Less is more. Pick 15 Primary Prospects and 15 backups. Out of the 15 primaries, pick 5 as your highest priorities. Treat them as if they are already clients. Bring them ideas. Recruit them. Stop spamming the world with your newsletter. Nobody cares about your blog. Let’s get over that nonsense and get back to intelligent, personalized agency outreach.
2. “Clients Want Category Specialists” – Nah. Clients want great creative built upon unexpected insights and great service. They assume you will understand their business and their category. This specialization theory that runs rampant today is not a point of differentiation… it’s a point of sameness. “We’re experts in your category” — could you be more pompous, maybe? Category specialization may get you into a pitch, but it will NEVER win you an account.
3. “Size Matters” – oh, yeah? Tell that to Barton F. Graf 9000 or Baldwin& or Made in Boulder. Creativity matters. Clients want 6 key people on their account, not 200.
4. “Social Media Creates Inbound Marketing” – Sure, it does. Tweeting out your agency propaganda brings in tire-kickers by the barrel. 999 out of 1,000 “inbound” leads are crap, admit it. And let’s get over this in 2014.
5. “Clients Seek Collaboration” – That’s what they say. But, they really want leadership that listens. Anyone can collaborate; but, few can lead. And even fewer can lead through breakthrough creative. Collaboration is table stakes. Stop selling collaboration and start leading.
6. “Agencies Are Marketing Partners” – Stop drinking your own Kool-Aid. Agencies are vendors. You earn marketing partnership after you help that client achieve business results. Stop selling your agency as a “partner.” Think about how you would feel if a candidate on a job interview claimed they would be a partner at your agency. Partnership is earned, not claimed.
7. “Price Matters” – No, it doesn’t. It never did, and it never will. If they have to ask what it costs, they can’t afford it. If they want a volume discount, send them to Costco. Do your homework up front and stop recruiting cheapskate prospects. Professional Marketing Services are costly. Great creative is expensive. Sell quality.
August 15, 2013
A Dad’s View
First off, the whole idea for a Reality Show series involving a real ad agency review — or pitch, was mine. In 2006, I collaborated on this idea with a Canadian production company responsible for the Project Runway concept. I then approached a few agency principals needing exposure/new business and they mostly responded with bemusement. I presented it to some Brand Managers, they loved it. My idea was quite different from the shallow concept that currently exists on-air. My idea was to get a major brand with a real review in the offing to depict the entire review process over the course of an entire 10-episode season. In other words, one big review, 5 big agencies vying for one big brand.
The biggest problem I have with the format of AMC’s The Pitch is that it’s faked, like The Ponderosa on Bonanza. The reviews aren’t real, no promise of the winning agency getting business. It also feels a bit like cooking a chicken in the microwave. It’s too fast. No review lasts one week. It just feels like each episode is rushed — the ideas are undercooked. Also reminds me of speed chess in Washington Square Park. These are not the best ideas for the brand, just the fastest for the show.
Okay, now that I got that off my chest, let me say that I’ll be watching tonight’s season premiere with great interest. Why? My son, the copywriter, is competing for an Atlanta agency close to my heart, BreenSmith (more on why in a bit). At the risk of sounding like Paul Lynde from Bye, Bye Birdie (“We’re going to be on Ed Sullivan!”), I’m not just proud of my kid, but I live the career I never had in a creative department vicariously through him. Kind of like the spastic Dad whose kid is a great athlete.
I’ve worked 24 years in the ad agency business so my kid wouldn’t have to. And…now look. I mean, I sacrificed and invested heavily in a Marist high school education; sent him off to a Jesuit college (that lasted 3 days, thank you Hurricane Katrina). I did all this so he could have a chance at a better life than me. So he could be exempt from the horrors of this advertising world. “I never wanted this for him. I work my whole life – I don’t apologize – to take care of my family, and I refused to be a fool, dancing on the string held by all those bigshots. I don’t apologize – that’s my life – but I thought that when it was Mikey’s time, that he would be the one to hold the string. Senator Palma; Governor Palma.”
Did he maintain the Hope Scholarship at UGA to get stupid? Where did the trail lead? The Creative Circus, that’s where… a freaking circus. Am I nervous about how he performs on TV? Absolutely not, this is ad puffery. You know what made me nervous? The first time he lined up as an undersized defensive end across the line from a 300-lb offensive tackle on a football field. Now, that’s nerve-wracking. Watching him sit around a conference table with a bunch of ad geeks thinking up stuff? Not so much.
So speaking of ad geeks, tonight’s agency BreenSmith, is special to me because I moved both guys to Atlanta in the late-90′s to separate agencies (Smith, from BBDO/NY to the erstwhile WestWayne; and Breen From Crispin & Porter to Blue Sky Agency). That they wound up together and eventually hired my son is testament to the small world. Small indeed, yet I wouldn’t want to paint it.
Enjoy the show — may the fastest idea win.