Posts Tagged ‘partnerships’

I think in the business world, we become driven to succeed – or perform, always risking being trampled.  We have come of age in the world of many options, much information, and the innate desire to make a difference.  It starts out with the idea of being good at something, then – in my world, the competitive nature kicks in and you plunge forward. Over the last couple years of my business life, I have cycled through those feelings more than once.or twice…

When 2015 rolled around, I vowed (once again) to apply my skills and be the best version of myself I could be at the time. I know what I do like the back of my hand, but I felt the desire to create something new and different. I wanted to start a non profit. No small undertaking, and in paperwork alone can be a daunting task. If you are anything like me, I can make myself take the eye off the ball very easily by distracting myself with other “jobs”. I have continuously pulled my mind back to the focus – much like my meditation focus – back to the breath. As a result, there was a strong possibility I would lose a couple clients I currently work with and enjoy helping.  It was a risk, but I trusted if I just put one foot in front of the other and not lose focus, it would all work out.  THIS is a very unnatural state for me, and I had to work hard to maintain it.  I did not force, cajole, argue, debate, negotiate – I just let it unfold.  I was rewarded with renewals, and for that I am grateful.

All of this is great – for today, I just keep moving forward and TRUST that I am on the right path.trust word in letterpress type


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Can you feel it?  That rumble coming up from the ground?  It is the sound of creativity making its way into the hearts of people in the Motor City.  I am especially happy to living in Detroit right now because of it.

Sure, Detroit has haters…a LOT of them.  For some reason it is important to use Detroit as the benchmark for all that is wrong with the U.S.A.  We were too married to industry causing lack of public transportation, we had diversity until the riots of the 60′s sent a lot of people to the suburbs.  We are not what the media would have you believe however.

Detroit is quickly becoming the nerve central for all things creative.  Creative technology, creative thinking, creative funding, creative living.  We are sick and tired of you feeling like you haveIMGP0113 something on us.  I lived in Chicago for awhile.  When I moved back I felt like had to sell this city back to the people who lived here, they were believing the hype.  No longer.

For the record; Chicago has a 10.25 sales tax, think Kwame and Coleman were corrupt?  They actually auctioned off city jobs under Daly.   No offense to the Detroit Bad ass gangs – but Chicago gangs make ours look like West Side Story.

At the front end of all is this is artists.  Detroit and the state of Michigan over indexes the rest of the country in creative jobs.  Look, you will see it — Artists buying homes in Hamtramck, Artists living in New Center.  People like Dan Gilbert and others investing in a city that has all the same markings as any world class city and then some.  We have a riverfront, we have history, we have talent and we are running with it.  Do yourself a favor and look to Motown for your creative needs, we are ready for our close up.

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In the advertising and marketing business we constantly try to keep up with the trends and interests of the population so we can best serve our clients.  These days, its a little bit like catching mercury on a desk..just when you think you have it…it slips away.  It is especially difficult to catch the female viewer/listener/reader/follower.  I think women’s interests and triggers are as varied as their lipstick options, or as the flowers they plant, or jobs they juggle.  It seems as though, like women, we need to be all things to all women.

The ads we see on television are still focused on either the “average mom” in khakis with a mop in her hand, or the harried career woman trying to have it all.  There is no happy medium, which in my opinion, is what women are starting to achieve.  We see more women taking time to network – with EACH OTHER..or new “fluffy” social websites, like Pinterest.  No disrespect to Pinterest, but it is clearly a women’s social network.  Try as they might, you will catch the occasional male interest attempt amongst all the great recipes or patterns for pillows, but the dominate theme is women.  And that is okay, I don’t know about you, but I feel a little bit of a shift.  A shift not to a subservient role for women, but a mutual respect and partnership between women and men.

Now, I realize there are a LOT of exceptions, women still rank lower on the pay scale overall, but we are making progress.  It is important that we continue to remember that it is progress not perfection.  Today’s woman doesn’t kid herself into thinking she can have it all, she just wants what is good for her, and if it applies, her family.  She is willing to pay the extra money for a good hair product, if it what it says it is.  She is more discerning and pays closer attention to how you position your brand.  Don’t kid yourself by underestimating the female consumer.  She still makes the decisions for a household, sometimes with, sometimes without her partner.  She isn’t willing to compromise her integrity for the sake of brand loyalty, she wants to believe that the products she buys are as loyal to her as she is to them.

In the world of advertising and marketing it is always paramount to know your client, and in this day and age, you have to keep up with the changing landscape to find them.  Once you have them, don’t take for granted they will stick around by treating them like a number.  One great example of that is the CitiBank Women – they send out occasional (read closely – not obnoxiously regular) emails with great tips about finances.  Their newsletters are timely, thoughtful and succinct.  No three page dissertations, they understand how much time we have, how much time we are willing to devote to a newsletter, ( approx 15 secs – or ten words) and capture the reader with a bold topic, brief strategy and then sign off.  Follow their lead and the lead of other companies that successfully market to women.  By knowing them and their interests, their hopes, and their lifestyle you will not bore them, patronize them or lose them.

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Below is a terrific article from someone who I truly believe has the audience to speak out about something I have said for years and years.  Being that my blog at best gets a dozen readers (thank you), and his blog is on Advertising Age, he is able to get to the masses some very important information.  I am not diminishing the magnitude of good creative, I am also not saying that it is simple and quick.  What I am saying is that it isn’t rocket science and a media idea in the works shouldn’t celebrate birthdays.  I had the good fortune to speak to a couple of high school classes recently about advertising. The question asked of me repeatedly was, what is the biggest misconception about advertising and marketing?  My response – that it has to be expensive – it really doesn’t.  I also spoke to a client today about a project estimate we were desperately trying to keep in check.  We had made a low estimate and were asked to lower it even more.  I know what my team is capable of and based on our outline and the clients willingness to participate actively in the design, we were able to reach an agreement we were both comfortable with.  That was until, the simple task of designing stationary took on a life of its own involving a new design and colors.  I was committed to our original agreement and did not intend on going over, but needed to send up a small flare as a heads up.  The action was immediate and swift, the client was convinced I was trying to bail.  Never, not me, and not my team…we discussed the hourly pay scale that neither one of us liked or felt was relevent anymore.  However, a lot of creatives still employ the system and since I am not an employer of these folks, I had to submit in an hourly fashion.  We were able to have the obligatory “come to Jesus” meeting and left with smiles on our faces.  As much as we don’t like the hourly rate system, it is industry standard, and my feeling is as project managers, consultant and employers it is up to us to manage it and make sure it doesn’t spiral out of control either by indecision or time waste.  Below is the article by Scott Montgomery, enjoy.


Great Ideas Don’t Take As Much Time As Many Ad Agencies Claim
The Myth of Time and the Creative Process
By: Scott Montgomery Published: November 16, 2011
CMOs? Ad managers? Perhaps you’ve suspected this. I can confirm it: Making ideas really doesn’t take as long as you’re told it does.
There. I said it.
It’s like I’m burning my Advertising Creative Union card by saying this, right? I mean, creative actually does take time — and smarts, risk, effort, sleep deprivation, and extended bouts of weeping — just not as long as some agencies make it take.
A few months ago I listened in on a conference call with one of our newly minted account managers as she negotiated campaign timing with a new client. Actually she wasn’t really newly-minted. She’d worked for a few years at a creatively decent, but now deceased, agency. And every word she used, every number she referenced, each timeline, was designed to secure more time for campaign delivery.
So, I popped down afterwards to undo several years of very good, traditional account training.
Agencies (like her old one) have built up elaborate time, tracking and billing structures that David Ogilvy would still recognize — structures designed before Internet speed, and turned into tradition with layers of process that . . . Slow. Things. Way. Down.

At the same time, creative people, even admirably busy ones, almost always put most of their actual work-work nearer to Deadline Eve than to project initiation. I do it. Think. Get coffee. Think. Get panicky. Freak. Execute. That, too, is tradition.
So, if we all just agree that, today, technology lets us collaborate, create and execute far faster than those 80s-era agency structures can — the ones where 90% of the creative portion of the effort happens in the last 72, 48, 12 or 4 hours anyway — well, let’s just go ahead and move that hunk of time closer to project’s initiation.
Like, all the way closer.
Here in flyover land — essentially advertising’s nowhere — speed is a requirement. We have to be faster to compete with bigger agencies. But it turns out the positive effects of this reality have piled up for us. So we’ve made it the rule. Or rather, the basis of our guiding principles, which we use to go about undoing all that excellent account training I mentioned.

Principle 1: The less time it’s in our shop, the more profitable the effort. Seems strange to say in an industry with billable hours as a standard. But we’ve had projects that have celebrated birthdays. Not one of them has been profitable. Bill to a quote, deliver value, execute, delight your client. Repeat.

Principle 2: Speed reduces mootness. If we develop concepts before market conditions render the brief moot, it decreases the chances that the effort will die of irrelevance in six months because a client’s competitor moved faster. Yet, some agencies act like clients’ competitors never change. They do.

Principle 3: Speed helps your client-side partner be indispensable to her organization. Speed tends to delight her project team; executional alacrity helps that lead person keep (and excel in) her job, be assigned more things to execute, and (hell yes), make more work for us. Yet, culturally, agencies are full of creatives who think the client is the enemy. They’re not.

Principle 4: Speed lets you avoid second-guessing a thing to oblivion. Almost all our most interesting projects could have been easily killed by a lot of debate. Creative inventions are always fragile, and proper scrutiny should kill the weakest — absolutely. But you can always construct an argument that can kill even the most awesome ideas. Speed just reduces that opportunity. And yet, some agency creatives talk about working for months on things that are never produced. Somebody pays for that wasted effort.

Principle 5: Executing the fresh beats the hell out of executing the stale. I personally have the attention span of an Irish Setter. I’m easily bored, and always ready for the next thing — a lot of creative people are. Execute before our minds wander. Executing ideas in the energy-glow of spontaneity, newness, and invention is, frankly, more fun. You can usually see it in the results. What was I saying? Oh…

Principle 6: Speed lets you collaborate with your client earlier. Speed makes you be decisive. Speed lets you be well on your way before another agency can get the job opened.

This may seem anti-creative to some. But I can report that nearly every really unusual, innovative or award-winning idea we’ve created over the last few years has coalesced within hours of setting our minds to it. The speed can be breathtaking, but the results can be, too.

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In the ever changing world of business, how you promote your services or merchandise is paramount. Who you choose to do business with becomes a direct reflection on who you are as a business. Why else do you suppose major corporations seldom donate or support one particular politician or party? The exception to that is the union, or business who has major stakes in current Capitol Hill agendas or lobbyists. Much like any sport, you “play up” to the company you keep.

Having partners in your marketing endeavors is a great way to expand your dollars and maximize your exposure. Utilizing each others resources or personnel opens up a whole new window of potential clients/customers you might not have otherwise been able to target. Additionally, two heads are always better than one! There can be terrific ideas and concepts you can share and initiate together that will make you more than effective, it will expand your business peer group, which is always a plus.

Another rule I use with my clients is, “if we are doing business with you, you should be doing business with us”. What I mean by that statement is anyone, and I mean anyone…from the water cooler company to your top vendor should be supporting your business in your efforts whether it is community projects or advertising campaigns. And, in turn, you should support them as well. It’s unfortunate, but I have seen many clients who constantly go to the same well over and over again, yet leave their contributors high and dry when it comes to contributing or including their partners in events or functions without a fee. This just leaves bad feelings and erodes the partnership. Your business is a direct reflection of you as a person, make sure the image is the one you want to convey.

Granted, there are many necessary partnerships that don’t always offer the same benefits of being involved in a high marketing or image making level. Some are the lower, occasional golf outing, or a bottle of wine at the holidays type. Every partner is a crucial cog in your business wheel, it is important they all feel necessary and relevant, it will benefit you in the end with better service, better product and better partners.

At the end of the day, your actions as a company will either make or break you. If you develop and maintain great partnerships it will only make both of you better business owners.

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