Archive for the ‘small town clients’ Category

Big Desk

August 14, 2017

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It’s an attitude that’s everywhere … and one that needs to stop. Especially in the advertising business.

Big Desk.

You know these people and you’ve seen it in their body language. You’ve heard it in their tone of voice. A “Big Desk” attitude is showing up to the meeting with that “I’m here because I know everything you need to be successful and I’m gracing you with my presence because I’m so busy and important but I’ll make a little time to try and help you.”

I remember the ad girl who was chastised BY THE CLIENT for endlessly checking her phone instead of listening in their meeting.

The young ad novice who leaned back in his chair, laced his fingers behind his head, looked up at the ceiling and said, “Well, Mr. Smith, we’re here to help you.”

Then there’s the client who used to work for our agency. We were calling on him. In his sharply pressed new suit, he sat down behind his desk in dramatic fashion, brought his hands together and said in a steely tone, “What do you think you can do for my company?”   As his former boss, if I could have fired him right then and there, I would have. (By the way, he didn’t last long in that job.)

Whether you’re buying or selling, arrogance isn’t a good quality and there’s a lot of it in the ad world. Advertising is not a “one and done” business. Relationships are vital because trust is everything. Trust solidifies your business. Trust takes time to build. In my 32+ years of small market ad work, I built my business by spending time with my clients and learned what kind of people they were. I tried to anticipate what they needed and give them solutions to the problems they faced. And most importantly, I did it sincerely because I gave a damn. In the process, many of them became close friends. Even better.

A real winner in the ad business doesn’t come across as a used car salesman. Being sincere, genuine and vested doesn’t cost a thing. Take that extra step to make your relationship extraordinary, even if it means losing a buck or two.

Besides, Big Desk is just plain rude.

She’s bossy. And has an answer for everything.

June 17, 2017

Yup. Guilty as charged.

During my time as a media sales rep for a small town radio station, (my first real job) my manager got a call from the owner of a Mexican fast food chain. He demanded I be replaced with someone else.

Why?

“Because she’s bossy and has an answer for everything”, he said. My manager replied. “I understand. I’ll get you a new rep. But I need to ask you, if she doesn’t have an answer to all your questions, who will?”

She had my back for several reasons. A) I had the client spending a ton of money on our radio station B) I was one of the top sales people at the station C) I genuinely wanted clients get to results D) The client was right. I was bossy.  I still am.

In over 35 years of advertising and sales experience, this guy was the only one (at least that I know of) that ever complained about my approach. Others have described me as “nice-bossy”. I have always pushed for my ideas but in the end, the client gets to do what they want.

You get to be “bossy” when A) You demonstrate that you genuinely give a damn B) You have formed a real relationship with the client that has established trust C) You know EXACTLY what you’re talking about and can back up your claims with facts that give you the ability to have the answer “for everything”.

And what if you get asked something you don’t have an answer for?  You say:  I don’t have that answer right now, but I will find out and get back to you.

No matter how big the client is, they need and want direction and leadership. They don’t want another order taker. You’re getting paid to deliver results and ideas. If you can’t demonstrate real enthusiasm for a client’s success, even if it comes down to being a bit bossy (in a nice way), then you need to find another way to earn a living.   Like working the cash register at the Mexican restaurant.

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Small town media

February 8, 2010

Allow me a moment to rant about media. Especially here in Hooterville. Small town media, just like Fox and CNN, can pick and choose and decide the tone. It really pisses me off. So it goes with our slowly dissipating newspaper, The Daily Disappointment, who highlight their owners favorite causes and politics and give credit where none is due. Like the non-story about the newly hired marketing woman with thick ankles, bad hair and sensible shoes who declared an increase in numbers for a government agency with her strategic television efforts. EXCUSE ME?  We had them using television two years before she ever showed up. Along with a new web site, and a new positioning statement, and a new event catalog. Bottom line is she had nothing to do with it. So much for investigative, or relevant, journalism. (Maybe it’s because we buy very little local newspaper advertising.)

In Hooterville, there’s a LOT of mediocre media. The little community web sites that crop up under the guise of local news. They try to compete with the newspaper, TV and radio stations. Funded by small thinking Tea Partiers who are busy being righteous, God and Country conservatives, taking low level pot shots at the Mayor, county and state government.

There are VERY bad and WAY TOO MANY radio stations. Announcers with speech impediments. Dead air. Many are owned/funded by small thinking Tea Partiers who are busy being righteous, God and Country conservatives, taking low level pot shots at the Mayor, county and state government.

We have an active cable sales force and two aggressive networks (CBS and NBC) in Hooterville, with News Anchors who everyone knows too much about. The Old Drunk Guy at 6 o’clock. The young bimbo girls with coiffed curls and glossy lips who nod and gush knowingly and have nothing meaningful to say. And smug, self-assured, pushy gals selling 30 second spots when they should buy a gym membership. Every one is Number One.

And last but not least, there are Billboards, Yellow Pages, Area Wide Maps, Church Bulletins, Grocery Store Kiosks, Pharmacy Bags, Sides of Trash Cans Sponsored by the Rotary, Bus Benches, Sides of City Buses, Space on the Chamber Web Site, Flyers in the Chamber Newsletter, ads in the Charity Event Program, the Community Theater Program, the High School Sports Program, on the fence at Little League/High School/College Ball Field, the weekly farm town newspapers, ads on placemats at the local pizza/taco/fried chicken place, the side of a Race car….you get the idea.

Not one news outlet here can afford to deliver any unbiased delivery of factual information because they might piss off their friend/neighbor/customer. Because it’s a small town and  they all play golf at the same country club.        Gee, Happy Monday.

Today…

January 15, 2010

…I watched a 60+ clients eyes glaze over as I showed him TweetDeck and explained Twitter.

…I was polite to a guy named Brad from India who called about Internet Advertising.

…I did not feel sorry for telling a deadbeat client that if he can do his own web updates, then by all means, please do.  But if he wants me to teach him how, there would be a charge.

…I did not toss the postage meter out the window when it said “inspection due”.

…I out-shocked the client who calls me and attempts to shock me with excessive swearing and vulgar, sexual overtones. I actually rather enjoyed it.

…I was patient with the client who, instead of reading what I sent to her BEFORE she called me, she read it to herself while I was on the phone with her.

…I realized I will NEVER be able to write down every thing that’s in my head.

…I counted the minutes until it’s time to load the car and go skiing for a week.

See ya’ January 25th!  I’M ON VACATION!!

Can’t ride the Harley in this weather!

Etch-a-Sketch Art

October 27, 2009

There’s no recession in Hooterville. Today has been a blur. We’ve got one client with the Swine Flu, and one who thinks he’s going to get a full blow presentation of spec work by Thursday. THINK AGAIN. So I got out my Etch-A-Sketch (had one as a kid, and have one at work) to pass some time in thought…then I found this. Whoever did this has nothing to do…or was on a conference call with that ONE client…yawn.  (via GadgetHIM)

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They Said, I Thought

October 14, 2009

It’s really a wonder we have any clients left. The guys I work with just shake their heads. The older I get, the more impatient I become with clients. When I decide to waitress, I hope I can keep my mouth shut.

Our in-house designer?  Oh, she can do that.

If she could, then you wouldn’t be here…give it up.

We don’t know who the customer is, we’re hoping you can tell us.

If you don’t know, then I KNOW I don’t.

My wife is really artistic…these are some of her logo ideas.

Then you should hire her.

We did these ads.

Your children are ugly, oops, I mean these ads suck.

And I really have said this:  “With all due respect, what you are currently doing obviously isn’t working, or you wouldn’t be in my office.”

Welcome to small town advertising.

Who’s our customer? Uh…..

October 10, 2009

We got called back to talk to a potential client.  Last time we met was in May.  I knew they were talking to other agencies….no problem. (Anything they can do we can do better.) They finally decided we were the best choice to do the creative. Cool.  When I asked my usual litany of questions, the most important one they did not know.

“Who’s the customer?”

“We don’t really know…we’re hoping you can tell us.”

I shit you not. I do not get paid enough to answer questions like this.

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I’d sell you something, but I don’t know who you are.

Playing cards at the club…and other reasons why we don’t get hired

July 18, 2009

Hiring an agency….no matter if  it’s on Michigan Avenue or  Main Street Hooterville, clients have their reasons.  The Ad Contrarian has another excellent message inspired evidently by Seth Godin. Both are very good.  And it got me to thinking about business on our level here in Teeny Town.

I don’t belong to a country club. We have TWO of them here in our 45,000 population town. Lot’s of OLD money here. LOTS of Good Old Boy stuff going on. We have several kitchen table ad shops.  One describes herself as “The Walmart of Advertising”. (You can imagine the stuff they put out.)  Then there’s the guy who used to run an Auto Glass business who decided to be an Ad Agency. He has a fair bit of clientele because he’s learned to “talk the talk and walk the walk” of the system.  He sells below average work to his country club pals.  It isn’t about strategy, quality, message or execution … it’s about who won at cards Tuesday night at the club.  And that’s ok.

I have a wall in our reception area that “showcases” some of the work done by Auto Glass Guy and Walmart Girl.  Prospective clients can look at our competitors work without ever having to step foot in their offices. I want them to see the difference.

I know I’m not a very good networker. I hate schmoozing with people I don’t respect or care for.  Business After Hours…YUK. Chamber events? No thanks. I’ve really tried to be better at this game, but I just don’t have it in me. And, word travels fast in a small town: That “over-the-top” adchick….man, she’s tough…and bossy. Right. I am NO order taker. I ask them respectfully, if you know how to do this, then why are you here? Clients who work with us do so because we help ’em sell their stuff and do it better than the Auto Glass Guy and the Walmart girl. We want to get the business because we are clearly the best in town. (That’s what a new client said.)  Not because we pretended to be someone we’re not.

I don’t play that game. What else ya got?images-1

Oh yeah, advertising.

June 27, 2009

I’ve been so caught up in the interesting news du jour, I forgot I’m an AD chick, not a NEWS chick.  So, how about this for small town clients?   After years of good work, a seemingly solid relationship and positive results, the client calls me up and says, “We’re going in a different direction”.  I say, “So you’re firing me?” “Well, we’re just going in a different direction.”  Uh-Huh.  The PR Bitch in a MUCH larger market must have a tongue piercing…but I digress.  (Hey, I have SEEN her work – it sucks. Seriously average. Plus, we never got invited to compete with the new project and he let it go on for months, leaving us to wonder what the hell was up. Poorly handled, Mr. CEO)

So I move on.  Clients do come and go.   THEN, I get a Facebook Friend Request…from this guy.  Are you serious?

Yeah, I’m bitter.

imagesIf I get one, can I keep the business?

Small might just be the new big

June 3, 2009

It must be nice at those big agencies, I think.  To have teams of writers, planners,  executives, designers, divisions, groups, juniors, seniors, vice-presidents, CFO’s, CEO’s, COO’s, principals and the like.  But I think smaller shops have become increasingly popular in the era of the Big Dumb Agencies, as dear George Parker describes them. I have a few suspicions why:

1.  Nimble.  Because we don’t have a lot of people to get in the way of progress, we can turn on a dime for a client. They like that.

2. Loyal. Genuinely and to a fault. We need our precious clients to be successful, or else we’ll cease to exist. So we tend to act like we’re their partner.  And really, we are.

3. Honest. Maybe too much at times. The rest of my team jokes about how “blunt” I can be with a client. Hey, if their hours suck, their staff is surly, the inventory dated, or the prices too high, someone needs to tell them…might as well be a “partner”.  I care.  (See Number 2.)

4. Efficient. Time is money.  We’re small and don’t have the luxury of waxing poetic about a piece of creative for months.  We study the issues and then work hard to sell something. Isn’t that what advertising is supposed to do, after all?

5. Hungry.  We don’t eat till someone sells something. And we all know it, so we take nothing for granted.

6. Cost-conscious. Small agencies “feel the pain” of our small clients.  We have to make money, but we don’t nickle and dime a client for every breath we take on their behalf.

7. Ego-less. Well, somewhat. If you think you’re the smartest one in the group, then you can’t work in a small shop.  Arrogance just doesn’t work.  Collaboration does.

There is no corner on creativity and problem solving. The layoffs are many in big agencies, and sadly, some iconic firms are closing their doors. All the while, here in Hooterville, we are busy, enjoying the creative process, raising our families in a sweet small town, designing, writing, producing and living.  Sure, we endure the same client crap, just on a smaller scale. And true, we’re not creating the image for a big national brand where there is so much at stake, but I do believe we could have developed a better Pepsi Logo…and for a lot less money.

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