As the year draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on how much I’ve learned from our smart client-partners during 2017. Our customers have asked us to help craft ambitious marketing strategies and delivery tactics for 2018 and, to be honest, it hasn’t always been easy. Deadlines are horrendous, and often planning and strategy take a back seat to unanticipated business needs. And then there’s the series of huge deliverables due in early January…
But still, I love them. And here’s why.
They’re demanding...in a good way
Our clients know they can be impossible. They know when they under-communicate. They acknowledge the challenges of weighing the right thing to do versus what management wants to see. And inconveniently, just around the 4th of July or Christmas, they are full of surprises.
It’s the usual, "Oh, by the way...I forgot to mention"...or "Oops, I forgot to tell you, we need new ads by January 1st and an immediate emphasis shift in social media to the new products."
While we do develop a few gray hairs when this happens, there is a silver lining that makes itself known every time: They trust us. They know we’re going to make it happen. This takes the sting out of the last-minute, late-night emergency because they are truly relying on us to deal with the vagaries of their business, to be in their seat when the you-know-what hits the fan. We’re in this together. That’s the best feeling. Frankly, there’s no better Christmas gift, and I know the whole team feels the same way.
We get to drive excellence, sometimes by accident.
For some of our customers, we are "in like Flynn." We know their business well, understand their products and services, and get inside the heads of their own customers. Still, we recognize that sometimes they know best.
"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."
There are times we are called upon to make recommendations that we can’t possibly claim are the right ones. Sometimes, we don’t have budget information to drive a point-of-view. Other times, there’s a request for content where the client wants features, but we’re writing on insights and values. In other instances, a customer might have one view that is inherently incompatible with another decision-maker on her team.
Here’s the good news. This year, I’ve learned that it often doesn’t matter if we’re right. Delving into a project with only partial information can elevate creativity where a new and innovative way of expressing a solution rises to the surface. Our value comes from having an outside perspective. Without all the features in our way, we’re free to uncover a nuance that ultimately builds a better story.
Harry Truman was right
President Truman famously said, "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."
Our value comes from having an outside perspective.
We have sat in many meetings and heard our most supportive customers announce a new idea, a strategic pivot, or a brilliantly crafted piece of copy and claim ownership. When you’re in a service business, you’re always hoping customers see your value so you wonder: Do they know that was our idea? Do they know that came from our strategy session based on our process? Do they recognize our contribution?
What a waste of time.
What matters is success. What’s important is smart thinking. What makes a difference is progress…
Maybe our customers know these ideas came from us, or maybe they needed a win with their own management. Or, just maybe, they don’t see the difference between us and them. In my opinion, that would be the sweetest success of all.
Happy holidays and Happy New Year from the White Space Marketing Group team. Here’s to a fulfilling and prosperous 2018!