Position Paper: Changing Client Perceptions

Ever return to a reunion and been frustrated when former classmates are surprised at your success? It may be human nature to pigeonhole each other, and since (most) clients are human, they have a natural tendency to make assumptions about your abilities that will be tough to change.

Smaller ships turn quicker, and your capabilities are likely to expand more rapidly than client needs will evolve.  You are a smaller firm than your client, and are likely adding capabilities very quickly. That’s another way of saying that clients may have you in a rut.

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Position Paper: Commission Structures

Don’t we wish that performance was as easy to measure in all positions as it is in the sales function! Because sales does lend itself to measurement, we leap toward that comfortable spot, relieved that our management load has been lessened.

But just because it is measurable doesn’t necessarily mean that we should view it primarily in that fashion. In fact, experienced managers sometimes get this nagging feeling that they are missing something by implementing commissioned sales in a service business.

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Position Paper: Three Common Struggles

Using a database of hundreds of firms in about 90 different metropolitan areas across North America, what are the three things that principals struggle with the most? You might recognize yourself.

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Position Paper: Impact that Comes with Control in a Marketing Firm

We all define the ideal client in many ways, but essentially it boils down to two things: the ideal client relationship is one in which you make money and have an appreciable impact on your client. Sure, you want to enjoy the relationship, you want referrals, you want prompt payment, you want to work with a decision maker, and a dozen other things. But those two things are the really important ones: money and impact.

We talk about money in various other position papers—here I want to talk about impact.

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Position Paper: Convergence to the Center

Whatever convergence means to you, it’s usually spoken of in terms of how your work for clients is crossing media boundaries. However direct the relationship, a fallout from this trend has been the convergence among providers, too. In other words, labeling something as an “ad agency, a public relations firm, a design studio, or an interactive company” is difficult to do without an asterisk to explain how the label doesn’t really fit.

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Position Paper: Impact of Crowdsourcing on Marketing Services

You may think this crowdsourcing movement is like a big trencher, circling closer and closer as you seek to hold the fort of relevance and value to clients. 

You may indeed think that, but I believe you’re wrong. I really do think this movement is good, and here’s why. Even if we end up disagreeing on that point, it really doesn’t matter. The change is already underway, and resisting it makes as much sense as promising to hold an inner tube under water forever.

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Position Paper: Don't Always Listen to Your Clients

I’m not sure who penned the maxim that “the customer is always right,” but that statement really is too much of a generalization. And lately I’ve seen way too many creative firms caring too much about what their customers think.

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Position Paper: Navigating a Downturn

Many firms began facing a downturn early in 2001. Though it was immediately easier for them to find qualified employees with the tech implosion, their clients were making more conservative spending decisions. This affected design firms the worst, and public relations firms the least. (Advertising firms seemed to be between the two.) This position paper was written during that time, hoping that the lessons could be memorialized.

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Position Paper: A Dozen Common Mistakes

The reason marketing firms fail is not creativity, location, or the marketplace. It’s management ability. Your firm is a direct reflection of you, and you must take responsibility for it. Here are the most common dozen mistakes we see marketing firms make. If you are managing a firm now, you’ll identify immediately. If you are an employee, this might give you some context for the decisions you may not agree with. If you are considering starting a company, this will help you learn from the mistakes of others.

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