I consult with one new agency every week through our TBR, and a question that comes up regularly is how to transition a new client from the sales team to the account team. Here's how to do it well.
Late last year, Creative Mornings (Atlanta) asked me to present some thoughts on this subject to 400 creatives. They were kind enough to capture and edit the video, which I think might be worth watching. If I may, consider watching this with some of your staff--it's about 25 mins long.
In essence, I posit that you start with competence, then move to cross over to something else, and that's when you then create. How do you change your world? It's not through your work, likely. The safest prediction is that you'll impact the people around you…by just being competent. By doing your job, raising their game, and explaining humanity through your actions. To do this, you tame the genetic A.D.D, relax a moment, and realize that it's not death to simply do your job for a few years.
After you've done that, you must leave things behind—strengths, even—to form the next level of competence. Your ongoing impact comes from abandoning those strengths. In the process, life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself. And the process of creating yourself often means leaving part of yourself behind, rather than finding yourself, like the process of new growth in the world around you. It's using an opportunity from a position of strength.
Where are you in the process of creating yourself? How much do you really know? What is it that you contribute? Do you wonder about the worthiness of the entire marketing industry? How do you place yourself in an industry where most of what you do is bullshit?
I think it's an interesting presentation, and there were some good questions at the end.
You can download a PDF of the presentation and watch the video.
If you could concentrate in a few different areas over the next eighteen months, here's what could happen at your firm:
That's not going to happen, though, unless you give up some things, because you just don't have the capacity. I'm not asking you to work harder--I'm asking you to work smarter. If you are ready for this, consider giving up some things, and giving them up in the right order:
Take just six minutes with me and think about the four different kinds of employees you have. You'll learn a lot more from this exercise if you participate and apply it to your firm as you read.
Start by answering two questions about each employee:
Draw your own guadrant, like the...
As a leader, your job is to make decisions. There are other things, too, but that is your main job.
Warring against that, possibly, is your fear of making the wrong decision. Rest assured in knowing that there is greater long-term potential harm in not making decisions than there is in making wrong decisions.
So to be an effective leader, try to master the timing of your decisions rather than the criteria for your decisions.
Key Times to Make Decisions
So, when should you make a decision? Here are the four most important times to make a decision:
Read Beyond Reluctant Leadership on Medium, published by David C. Baker.
Click here if you would rather listen to this blog entry (8:16).
Marketing firms have been understandably concerned about how digital they must be in order to remain sufficiently central to the marketing mix. We’ve lost something, though, by framing this discussion around whether we should actually develop digital properties instead of around the broader question of how we should learn from digital thinking. In other words, we might need to approach our work—digital or not—with a more digital mindset. I want to talk about that, but I also want to talk about how you might go about deciding the degree to which you do digital, too.
At the outset of this movement, there were so few firms developing digital properties that it was actually difficult to make a poor positioning decision. The tools were rudimentary, no one knew what good digital really was, and that world was there for the taking.
Developing digital properties, though, now shows more signs of being a mature market, meaning that there are few gaps to arbitrage. Strong tools are widespread, we have nearly twenty years of experience to inform our work, and suddenly kids in the garage don't seem to own this anymore. (They have gotten bored and moved on to social media.)
The last two decades have ushered in a new medium, but the true impact of digital is barely felt. Worst of all, even digital firms aren't thinking digitally. But—and this is so exciting to say—the promise of digital impact is at your doorstep. If you miss the promise of digital thinking, you'll suffer far more than missing digital itself. I'd like you to consider thinking digitally....
My Declaration for Your 2014: The Year of Your Own Oxygen Mask
This year I will jot down some clever ways to peg the amount of "care" my clients bring to the table, and I will willingly match that level, just because it's the right thing to do. But for my own sake, I will not exceed that level, just because it's also the right thing to do.
I will quit pretending to solve the potable water crisis in Africa and I will take a glass of cold, refreshing water to a randomnly chosen employee on occasion. I am tired of the hypocrisy of wanting to change that world while being a #@%!) shitty manager in this one.
Not inconsistent with this, I will finally boot that one employee out of the nest. Yes, they have done every job in the place and been with me as the organization has matured, but they no longer have the presence, objectivity, ability, or hunger that we need. If I hear them tell one more new employee that they've been here the longest, have done every job, and know how and when to present things to me, I may just make a decision on the spot.
I will be so, so grateful for whatever health and intelligence I've managed to retain through these years. [Pause and be grateful, please.] I won't view life as something that happens after I fix it, but something that happens while I fix it. The journey itself must be savored, along with the control and freedom and opportunities I have to NOT feed the machine.
If what I've just said still doesn't...
These are the things I've learned about paying humans, most of which I didn't absorb until some time after I was managing them.
The two groups of employees who are typically overpaid are those who have been with you a long time and those who know what other people make.
There are five issues more important to good employees than money, and when they talk about money is when some of those five things have eroded over time.
No employees in the world are mature enough to know what other people make and not read "intrinsic value" into that equation.
Real power comes from shaping how and what someone is paid. Unless a "manager" is that same person, all they are really doing is making suggestions about projects.
Small, frequent adjustments are better than...
I had trouble getting to sleep last night, and for some reason I started thinking about how managing client relationships has changed over the years. I'm not talking about my clients, but your clients. Do you know the really important things about how to do it right? I'm not sure i would have figured all these out, but I have paid attention to the hundreds of firms I've worked with and tried to cull out the best practices that have been proven in the field.
Just for fun, I started writing these down as they came to mind in a stream of consciousness style. Here are a few of them:
A great client recently asked me to outline my definition of success for their firm. I really enjoyed doing that, and below is a version that you can adapt to your own situation, putting your own stamp on it:
I was recently working with a firm under our new "Come to Nashville" program for a day and we were doing long-term planning, mainly, but with an eye on how that might impact the short term. I came up with some questions that turned out to be very helpful as they took a break from the continuous crazy days we all have, and then answered them honestly and seriously.