How much do you care about client success?
A hint: If you’re not sacrificing, you don’t care enough.
90% of what we do to help our clients succeed, you will never hear about. We do it because we care. We do it because we are obsessed with client success. We do it because it’s more fun and more inspiring to have successful friends.
There are things we do for which the client should get all the credit. They do. We have a few terrific clients for whom we do exceptional work, but whom we can’t talk about. We don’t.
Everything we do is a collaboration, and the success of the collaboration is the client’s success. A significant part of what we do, we do when the client is between jobs. There is no bill. There is no expectation of future gain. You’ll never hear a word about these services, unless you happen to be one of those clients.
I hear Nordstrom stories and Zappos stories and I think… if only people could hear our stories, they would be even more amazed… but discretion is one of the most important commitments we make to our clients.
Client success isn’t the same as “customer success.” It’s not just about being happy with our product. Client success is client success and fulfillment in career and life.
We are obsessed with client success.
I can’t remember when I first became fascinated with brands, but I know I was just a young child. Back then, Cheerios and Wheaties, Esso and Shell, Little Friskies cat food, Avis Rent-a-Car, were like cartoon characters to me. They had distinct personalities and I felt like I knew them, just like I knew the characters in my favorite shows.
From the brands I learned to love on TV to the more mature brands I later grew to love. The rock bands I worshipped. The threat and allure of Disco, Punk, New Wave and beyond. The religions I was pitched at school, in the streets and at my front door. My first credit cards from Citibank and American Express. Nike and Apple.
What art form gives you all the senses to work with? Sight. Sound. Smell. Hearing. Touch. And story, imagination and emotion too?
The dream began to form in me of building brands the way Picasso made paintings, the way Frank Lloyd Wright made buildings, the way Edison made inventions. Could I give thought to every touch point, and express a distinct and attractive personality that would remain consistent without ever being boring or trite?
I wanted to learn from the best, so I went to work for the best in the business. I chose as my clients entrepreneurial masters of brand building. I never thought of myself as the master, but only as student and servant. I practiced my craft obsessively. I stayed up nights writing. I read every book. I invited my heroes to lunch, always trying to learn a bit more, to add another key.
Yes, all of that time, I was a direct marketer. All of that time, I was measured by how well my work pulled, by beating controls, by winning tests, by conquering the A/B splits.
I learned all the tricks, but my greatest trick of all and the most effective was the ability to evoke emotion through brand. “A great brand idea is the ultimate response device,” I said. And I proved it repeatedly.
I’ve watched a lot of direct brands and careers die since then. Simultaneously, I’ve watched the great direct-led brands become the leading brands of our time. American Express, Apple, Amazon, Airbnb … and that’s just the A’s!
Remember, if you are in the business of selling directly, don’t merely sell. Build a rich, evocative, emotional brand. Use every touch point to differentiate. Err on the side of too much personality. Crush apathy. Make objectivity impossible.
Just as I do, so many wildly successful marketers remember their first journey of brand discovery as the true commencement of their marketing careers. They look back on that quest to uncover the insight that can change and organize everything going forward. The way they followed the data to the customer journey and came back with the golden insight, then mined that inspiring idea for all it was worth.
It’s a revolution in a brand, in a business and in a marketer’s career. In fact, many marketers have told me, “That’s when I first felt like a real marketer.”
Let’s do marketing for real. Let’s build a masterpiece.
New York Health & Racquet Club (NYHRC) put fitness on the map in NYC when it first opened its doors in 1973. Now, of course, New Yorkers have more exercise options than NYC has pizza joints. Yet they keep coming back to NYHRC, the original NYC health club, where they feel part of a tight-knit community of health-conscious people in pursuit of fitness and vitality.
At any of NYHRC’s nine Manhattan locations, virtually any fitness need or interest can be met, whether on your own and taking advantage of the well-equipped gym floor, or with the guidance of seasoned group fitness instructors and certified personal trainers.
NYHRC is truly in a class by itself, with amenities you won’t find at many other health clubs, including saltwater pools, squash and racquetball courts, basketball courts, a beach club and a yacht, perfect for beautiful sunset cruises around Manhattan.* (more…)
Here’s a quick dispatch from the intersection of personal, creative and business growth:
Some folks turn off at the phrase “personal growth” because it sounds like a lot of work. “Hey, I’m OK just as I am!”
But growth is as natural as breathing. It’s what we’re meant to do. Only sometimes we block what’s natural for us, and that takes a lot more work and energy.
Like staying in a job for “security” when we know we’re stultified. Like choosing the “safe” campaign rather than the right one. Like picking colleagues or partners who won’t challenge you.
Clients shouldn’t have to wait months to see returns from an agency engagement.
We often deliver incremental revenue in the first 30 days. And we don’t sacrifice future success to do it either.
We call it Two-Track Planning.
You’ll find this works in most situations:
It seems like a simple enough truth. It doesn’t take that many Venn diagrams to reach this conclusion. But it’s easy to slip into the pattern of viewing clients as just forces in nature that must be overcome, instead of seeing them for what they really are – human beings who happen to be paying us to solve a some of their problems. (more…)
Long-time relationships are business as usual to us, but apparently qualify as news to the rest of the industry. ADWEEK writes about our most recent reunion with a long-time friend and client in the article: “DIGO Leverages Dot-Com Connection in Latest Win. 1st work for new client BLUEFLY expected in 2012.”