It Never Pays to Be a Know-It-All

Several years ago, when I was working at another ad agency, I answered to a guy whose personality was, let’s say, outgoing. It was my first ad agency job and I was totally ignorant about how such organizations worked. I had worked for years on the client side and in publishing, broadcasting, and event management. I was a marketer, but the agency business was foreign to me. My mode of operation was simple; listen to the client and my team and then make informed decisions.

For Mr. Know-it-all, my listening moments were a problem. He perceived my silence as a lack of confidence and a sign of weakness. His MO was exactly the opposite. An agency veteran with a loud-and-proud confidence, his approach was to dominate discussions and convince clients that he was the expert. Some people accepted his exuberant confidence while others were just too afraid to challenge him, feeding his personality. Back at the office, he had the ear of the agency owner, a hunting and fishing buddy who liked his take-charge approach.

As you might expect, he and I had issues. My approach was to listen to clients in an effort to pin-point their challenges and then recruit my team to flesh out and suggest solutions. A one-man expert, he liked to tell clients what they should do and sell agency services. Needless to say, we had our moments.

That job, and my experiences with Mr. Know-it-all, ended up providing life experiences that significantly influenced who I became and how Brand Acceleration now serves client needs.
First, we recognize that our clients are the experts in their fields. They have knowledge and experiences that we may not have. They understand their clients and industries at a level that may be much deeper than we do. We’re marketing experts and our responsibility is to ask questions, shut up, and hear their challenges.

Next, we remember that our role is to serve as an extension of our clients, bringing ideas and solutions that are based on our experiences. As the owner and face of the company, I rely heavily on the expertise and experience of my team.

Specialization helps
When I started Brand Acceleration, it was because I recognized a disturbing trend in the ad agency industry. Most relied greatly on their creative capabilities and offered little or no industry counsel to their clients. As a result, the business often went to the agency with the most interesting creative and the lowest prices. Another trend was that the average length of the agency/client relationship was a whopping 18 months. I thought that was pathetic.
Our style is totally old school. By specializing in economic development and AEC, we offer significant depth of knowledge about the expectations of our clients’ audiences. We win and our clients win.

For example, our economic development clients love the fact that we have a deep understanding of site selection consultants, real estate brokers, and c-suite executives. We know how they interact with marketing tools such as web sites, videos, social media, and advertising. This knowledge makes conversations with our clients much better since they never have to teach us about their needs. We speak their language and offer informed solutions.

Recently, we deepened our team even further with the development of the Brand Acceleration Board of Advisors. These industry leaders, including experts from several industry categories, offer us outstanding insights that make us even better. Watch for a detailed announcement about this amazing group.

So, if you would like a marketing partner that offers expertise without the bullying attitude, I hope you’ll give us a call. We’ll listen to your challenges and offer knowledge-based solutions.

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your thoughts and personal experiences below.

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