Not long ago I was chatting with a principal of an ad agency headquartered far away from the one I work at about credentials meetings. (You know, that sometimes awkward / sometimes wonderful meeting where a potential client and agency meet for the first time to see if there's chemistry?) He said that during this initial meeting his agency never talks about themselves at all. Rather, they immediately dive into the client's business.
Since then I've been asking around and this approach seems to be the growing consensus in our industry about how to approach the first meeting with potential clients. And that's all fine and good and important. Of course you need to talk about the client's business.
But what about your business?
Clients say agencies often feel the same.
It's not to hard to see why this is the case. We all start using the same language around the same time. We're in communications, after all, so word gets around pretty fast: "Integrated," "Fully Integrated," "Media Agnostic," "Joining the Conversation," "Cause Related Marketing," "Accountability,"...
You get the idea...
We also move around a lot. I think two and-a-half years is the current employee tenure at large shops. So there are nine million people who have "worked" on Nike, Budweiser and Coke.
Some still do.
So I wonder... if you're an agency that only talks about the client's business the first time you meet, if deep down inside you know your agency isn't very interesting.
If I'm across from TBWA\Chiat\Day I'm interested in hearing about Disruption and Disruption Days.
From Naked's unique approach to Sid Lee's philosophy to Trumpet's venture funding program if I'm a potential client I want to hear that stuff. Things like this show an agency is dynamic. They understand things beyond marketing. They understand sales channels, distribution and most importantly, they think a-typically and have an opinion.
Proven success, measurement and quality creative will never be replaced. But today, how you work, what you do and how you do it is graded much higher than it was ten years ago. The opportunities for a creative company to be dynamic are vast today. This wasn't always the case. And our industry is full of some of the most creative business-minded people in the world... seems we should put this to more use.
So if you're an agency who refuses to talk about yourself because you don't think clients care, look inward. Perhaps there's not much to talk about. Because if there was, I bet they'd be interested in hearing it.