When I started my company, I had clients come to me and tell me what that wanted done. Early on I got excited about a new job and jumped at this new opportunity. Over the years though I started noticing something. I've been studying/doing marketing and branding everyday since I started school in '91. That being said, I often overlooked the fact that clients barely knew anything about marketing and even less about branding. This is not their fault, it's not their industry. Heck, I know very little about their industries. Certainly I would share the problem I think I have… if I needed help in their area of expertise… bookkeeping, sales, plumbing or whatever. I would also however ask for their advice because they are the experts.
When I was young, I thought the client knew their business better than I (which they do). And since they had the money and wanted XYZ (the type of work I delivered), I had better just do what they told me. Because of this I did what I excel at… design, marketing and phase 1 of brand development. This is great and met the client's perceived needs. They walked away with a very high quality marketing piece, part of their bigger overall branding puzzle. What I started to realize was the fact that if the items we created were used wrong or stopped mid-program or whatever, the piece didn't work. This could be costly to a client and would obviously leave a bad taste. So this was a disservice to my customers since we didn't really solve their bigger problem, we just delivered the wrong tool. The tool, they thought they wanted. This reminds me of a recent H&R Block commercial.
Using the wrong marketing tools to a do the undefined business growth job is never going to work. No matter how much money you throw at it. This is why it is important to step back and look at the bigger picture. This is often what makes bringing in an expert form the outside so good. Within the company, we as business owners, are too close to the problems and sometimes we need a fresh perspective from someone who sees these problems everyday with other customers.
Ok, so the point to the article is this. It was my fault that this happened to clients because I jumped on a project without having a serious trusted advisor conversaion about why they wanted whatever they were asking for. You know and asking them what they wanted to accomplish and really dig in. Almost becoming that annoying 2 year old kid asking why, why, why (in a proefessional business manor of course) until I got to the real problem they were trying to solve. On some level early on I was in it for the money, on another level, I wanted the glory of this great piece we were creating, but more times than not, it was ignorance. It may sound selfish now, and maybe on some levels it was. But, from day one I always wanted to help the customer, I just didn't know how to go about doing that on a higher CEO level. Until now and with some 14+ years of CEO experience running my own firm. We are looking for the same things ways to run our businesses better and partners to help us do that.
Fast-forward to today. I am sometimes approached by companies who want to be partners or prospects who want to be clients. Sometimes we get into discussing what a client needs, and sometimes there is a mismatch in our approach. For me I need to be thinking first and foremost of the clients needs and best interests. At this stage in my life and career, I know client evangelists are my #1 priority and so rejecting a project if it isn't 100% focused on the customer's best interest is what we do today. I will no longer take on a client or partner project if I feel it is not going to be in the best interest of the client.
Honestly if you help guide or redirect the client as a trusted advisor to the correct solution and then win big, you will build trust, a lasting relationship and win big yourself. This will bring money and maybe even glory, but it isn't the driving factor behind why we do what we do. In a perfect world when we work with a client we are looked at as part of their strategic team, the "go to people" for all things business growth, sales development, marketing (both print and online), and branding. Client's looking for real growth… get serious and understand it is better to let the professionals handle what they do. Even if it is costly, they find this isn't a concern because they reap bigger rewards that are many times over what they are paying.
So if you have been following Brandwise for sometime as a potential partner, do not contact us… UNLESS you're in it because you truly want to help a client become great! If your in it for the money or glory we are not a good fit.
If however you are a prospective client… and we get on a sales call and you find that I am not sincere in my goal… of asking you the tough questions that no one else wants to ask you, then hang up and we can go separate ways. Not everyone is a good fit for Brandwise. We no longer will do what YOU tell us, that is unless we agree this meets your goals and will help. If however you find yourself on a call with us and that every question I ask is probing deeper into your real problems, and you like the idea of a trusted advisor who will sometimes tell you "NO"… when it is in your best interest, then we should talk.