Incongruities Of What We Say...and Do

Okay, let's have a little fun. But let's do it at your expense, and not mine. That'll be even more fun!

Picture this. You finally go to the dentist, reluctantly. You're sitting there, head back, wondering why that ceiling tile hasn't been changed and why Kenny G is still a thing. The dentist walks in, all happy-like, and opens her mouth. Teeth aren't all that white and two are crooked.

WTH? "I can't believe I pay for this dentist to hurt me and pretend I need this every six months."

Now switch to you, having a conversation in the "closing" phase or the "client" stage of a newer relationship, and let's play this out.

  • "Hey, this website really doesn't represent you well. The technical SEO doesn't really have a chance, the CTAs aren't clear, and the UX kind of sUXs. Not only isn't it doing you any favors, but it's somewhat urgent that we fix this for you. We're estimating that it'll be about $600,000, but we can probably make some quick fixes (for $40,000) that'll put a tourniquet on the bleeding." [You really need a proper website. Please don't look at ours. I realize how silly it seems, but we've been super busy building websites for clients. But you, on the other hand, need to move on this quickly or the marketplace won't take you seriously.]
  • "It may not be especially obvious to you folks who are trying to read the label from inside the jar, but we did some man on the street interviews, and here's what they think: they don't see a clear differentiation between your brand and your competition's. You're claiming pretty much all the same things, and you haven't planted a defensible flag anywhere. You really need a tight positioning." [These are the areas where we focus. It includes, but is not limited to, series1, series2, series3, series4, toomanymore]
  • "We think it's probably time for your team to make a decision. Through our two workshops and about a dozen emails, back and forth, I think we've surfaced all the options are we've been pretty thorough about the pros/cons of each choice around the framework of this campaign. If we wait too much longer, there's going to be some opportunity cost to pay. "[Sorry. We can't start until next Wednesday. We'll be conducting our eleventh ELT meeting to try to get closer to a decision on the thing we've been discussing since last June.]
  • "That's a really insightful question. On the surface, you're absolutely right: a lot of firms promise the same things and nobody's as honest as they should be about their capabilities. We do check all those boxes, by the way, and we're glad to go through another 73-page deck that lays out our capabilities if that would be helpful. But truth be told, it's really the process we've refined that sets us apart. We started with about two dozen steps, but we've compressed those into 14, and each one of them is critical to successful work. We can't wait to lead you through this engagement." [Got it. We completely understand. Yes, we could probably save a little money and even more time if we pull these two stages from the proposal. We'll just be especially careful to make sure the work is good. Good catch.]
  • "We proudly stand behind a world that is diverse, equitable, inclusive...and we think that a sense of belonging is an excellent recent addition to this vision. This shows up in our research, our assumptions, and the people we feature in our campaign work for clients. We are intentional about doing our part for a better world and we only work with client partners who share this perspective." [As it turns out, interestingly enough, most of us live in cities and suburbs, have middle class or higher incomes, went to expensive colleges, and look sideways at anyone who frequents Dollar General or Waffle House. But we really do understand that part of your target audience because the NYTimes keeps us up to date on what they are really like. Besides, I talk to my Uber driver, and sometimes even my Lyft driver!]

Speaking to the last point, above, you and I are in one of the more progressive segments of the professional services world, ever, but we can be a tad full of ourselves. And a little smug. I don't have all those answers and I really wish I did, but the makeup of our firms doesn't always match our public statements. It's a challenge that I hope we can think more about...and then make a difference.

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