I’ve been at digital communications agencies in one form or another for many, MANY years. In that time frame, I have been shown, and exposed to, countless philosophies relating to how organizations should pursue new business and manage its existing client relationships.
Constantly learning new monikers, mantras and acronyms has certainly proved tedious over the years. Everyone has a favorite. Everyone has an opinion on what works and what doesn’t. While I have dipped my toe in several relationship “philosophies” and successfully forged many partnerships, alliances and client relationships, there is one acronym that has stuck with me as the most successful option.
It took an episode of the popular sitcom, The Office, to make me finally realize where my focus should be….I need to be a HERO.
In Season One, Episode 2 of the US adapted version of the popular UK comedy, the characters in the office go through a “diversity day.” They are taught that if they use the HERO acronym on a daily basis, they will be better people/co-workers and stay in compliance with the HR guidelines for Dunder Mifflin, the show’s fictitious paper company.
I immediately Googled the definition of hero…a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.
HERO is more than that and certainly more than an HR diversity tool…especially at an agency.
From the very first conversation I have with clients and prospects, I try and give them a sense of what they can expect when they work with me and my firm. I take all of the “agency speak” out of the discussion and speak candidly about things like fees, project team, contracts and anticipated results. In turn, they feel they can be open about their budget, timeframe and business challenges.
Agency executives often play many roles. We can be partners, friends, confidants and sometimes even mediators. I always view my interactions with clients and prospective clients through the lens of how I would be reacting if I were the client in this situation? How would I want to move forward if this were my brand I were chartered with protecting and growing the business?
I ONLY work with clients I respect. This means that I am mindful both of what the brand AND the stakeholder stands for and the way both choose to communicate and conduct themselves. It does not matter if it is a B2B, CPG, Retail, or Travel organization I am speaking to, I treat all my clients as I want to be treated. When both sides of the relationship fully understand and can appreciate what the other side is bringing to the table, open and efficient communications will result.
The truth of the matter is that there are no good ideas and bad ideas. There are only different individual’s perspectives. An agency/client relationship is a breeding ground for ideas. If the agency and the client can keep the brand at the core and have open and broad conversations about executions that will propel the organization forward, great ideas will emerge. Active listening on both sides leads to success. Sometimes an open mind, a clean whiteboard and a pot of coffee at 11:00PM is just what the doctor ordered for something that has never been done before!
In the ongoing pursuit of new logos for agency rosters, most agencies think about things like power of the prospective brand, revenue to the firm and whether the work that could be an exciting and innovative addition to their creative reels. These items aren’t unimportant, but I challenge those organizations to think differently.
I know one thing for sure; when it comes to growing existing or building new relationships at my firm, I choose to be a HERO.