Posts Tagged ‘small towns’

The Client/Vendor Relationship

February 16, 2010

Chances are very good you have this relationship with at least some of your clients. And if you do, send them to your competition.

Thank you Kathie, the best female announcer ever, for the find.

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Makin’ creative

January 11, 2010

We were a company of 12 at one time, and now we’re down to three, along with a team of brilliant freelancers who are at the ready. This is by my design. But every Monday morning, I look around and wonder …where’d I put that creative, anyway?

Big agencies have big teams to develop big ideas for big clients. But it’s all relative. Our small clients have much at stake: keep the doors open, sell stuff, make payroll, stay in business…just like “big” clients.  And, they expect us to deliver a solid message that brings warm bodies through the door. Maybe our role is even more vital since these small companies depend on repeat, long term customers. They battle Super-WalMart and other Big Box Stores daily. Small businesses look for their niche and a way to survive. They look to us to make their message meaningful and effective.

Example: I have a mom and pop furniture store who is open only one night a week, closed on Wednesday and Sunday, (yeah, I said closed Wednesday) and open only 8am-5pm the other days.  Yet, in spite of the way they force customers to conform to the way they do business, and with all the Big Box competition they have, they’ re still the ones to beat.  I must be a genius.

When you’re as small as we are, time is the valuable commodity. There’s not a lot of time to bounce ideas, experiment a little, write, re-write and re-write again…not a lot of time to savor the process of making the work. While I get bored and frustrated with that one (long-time) client who wants the same “show and tell”  TV, it works.

I got into the business over 27 years ago because of the creative process. I love being a real part of video projects, touching the many different aspects of making the work. But the “give and take”, “lets try this and if it doesn’t work lets try something else” days are long gone. In order to survive, we must churn out “new and different” as best we can because even in a small town, clients expect your best effort.

We’re open, but not on Wednesday or Sunday.

Only in Hooterville.

Starting the New Year Right

January 6, 2010

You can’t tell me that big agencies don’t deal with the same idiocy we deal with here. (We just wipe Pork Rind crumbs off the conference table.)Welcome to Day Three of the New Year at a little agency in the middle of nowhere but at the center of everything.

Email: How’s the web site coming? Well, we haven’t heard from you since mid-November. We need your product information and most importantly, APPROVAL on the revised proposal we sent.

We need to reshoot the open. My wife thinks my shirt makes me look like a porn star. (It doesn’t) but what’s wrong with that?

I know you handle our advertising but we let a company who specializes in web design do our new site. Uh, OK.  But they’re using the wrong logo.

We suggested adding a campaign oriented domain name to further drive their message… a natural move. Their marketing director said: Oh, No. We cant change the domain name. I’ve already placed all the yellow pages. What part of this does she not understand?

Acct Rep: They paid one of the invoices but not the other. OK, you’re mailing it to the wrong department. Send it here-we’ve told you this before. Can I fax it? No. Mail it. Can I email it? It would be quicker. No, they want a mailed invoice. Can I call him? NO, BITCH. MAIL THE BILL OR I’LL DRIVE UP AND CUT YOU.

There.  I feel better now.

Don, where are you when I need you?

Careful there, you’re not the client

November 6, 2009

He called, wanted a meeting immediately, then bulldozed his way into our office.  He insisted something needed to be done and right away. He was losing money.  No, he wasn’t the final decision maker, but  he was a damned important strategic partner and they would listen to him. He liked a spot we did for the sister company. He hated the current marketing director of the company.  She was slow, unresponsive to his requests and should be be put back into the secretarial pool or fired. He’ll put his own money in to straighten things up, by God. He’d get us a meeting with the powers that be. And on the way out he said, you might “wear a low cut top” next time we meet.

We were certainly intrigued by this prospect. What if “this” and what if “that” began to float around. It could be a nice piece of business, but I resisted the urge to do any spec work-it didn’t feel right. (It wasn’t the low cut top comment, trust me.)

Anyway, good thing we didn’t spend a lot of time prepping a pitch. After raising every kind of hell, this important “strategic partner” was told flat out by the real decision makers this was none of his concern. Yes, they loved what adchicks team did for their sister company, but they are quite satisfied with their current mediocrity.

The moral of this story:  Never count your chickens before they’re hatched.

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That’s one…

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.

Small town sightings

September 30, 2009

No, seriously. I drove past this sign. I took this photo.

Then I honked.

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The Mad Men Summary

September 18, 2009

I’m one the few people in the world who has not seen Mad Men. I’d blame it on small town living, but we do get cable here.  No problem though, because after this, I think I’m caught up now.

Thanks to Addict for this.

The People of Walmart

August 30, 2009

Bookmark this. Check it often. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be amazed.  You’ll get a firsthand look at the folks we see here in Hooterville everyday. OK, maybe not QUITE this “interesting”, but it’s a look at humanity as it really is beyond your pristine office cubicle. These people vote, have children (shudder) and buy products. Please adjust your commercial message accordingly.

www.peopleofwalmart.com

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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