I remember taking a prospective client out to lunch many, many years ago. The only thing he didn’t want to talk about was doing the work of his job. He was interested in the politics of the large company that employed him and in doing as little work as possible. It was a very long lunch meeting. I didn’t follow up. I have gotten much smarter in my old age. I won’t invest my time without first engaging in a qualifying conversation. I have recognized that I don’t like to play games or play politics. I really like to work with people who like to work.
There is no magic
I have also had clients that treat me like a magician. They recognize they need help reaching their potential customers, but fail to understand why. The creative process is a complete mystery, and even though they want good communication, they aren’t aware of the role they play in doing effective work. They are blind to the treasure of information they hold in their brains, and that this deep understanding is what makes it hard for them to see their brand as a prospective customer does. Without the client’s understanding of their business, I am only guessing at what will make prospects take action.
A simple formula
After fifteen years, my best work has resulted from a very simple understanding. It is my job to bring expertise in branding, marketing psychology, and the communication channels used to connect with prospects, donors, and customers. My clients bring their deep understanding of their business and industry. When we bring those two things together, good things will always happen. Often times it will bring a creative tension between the two.
The third way
The reality is I will never understand my client’s business as well as they do, and they will never understand marketing like we do. The best work comes when there is a respectful push and pull between these two truths. So if you are looking for marketing success, you are going to have to bring your game. And it isn’t going to be free lunch! But when we both bring our expertise to the table, good results will follow.
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