Business Development

The Agency’s Educational Transgression

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

A recent HubSpot article described an agency survey that revealed few agency employees stood up to accept responsibility for the development of new business for the agency.

No surprise there, it’s a function of the age-old agency mantra – New business is everybody’s business! Or, as you so clearly identified – new business is nobody’s business! Dating back to 1990 when we were conducting agency new business seminars stateside and in the UK, it was just the same. Agencies have managed to avoid the obvious for at least 26 years! Why? Because none of those in advertising ever had a class in what it takes to grow an agency business. It is almost a criminal oversight in the University community. And to suggest that agency “types” stoop to the lows of salesmanship, we’re not having any of that!

I don’t have the statistics at my fingertips, but as I recall, Gallup for years has ranked advertising folks depending, above or below “used car salesmen.”  So what’s the shame in shame! As of now, I have yet to learn of any University or College that offers anything more than a cursory pass at “business development.” So is it any wonder that those at an agency that are brave enough to at least try their hand at focused new business development, bail (unless they aren’t already terminated) after 6-12 months. They weren’t prepared or trained for the pressure that prevails.

I suspect little will change unless and until the industry accepts the fact that education and training are mandatory. BTW, all the recently surfaced “lead generation” software vendors will do little if anything the change that.

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What Would Shakespeare Call a Sales Person?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

I’ve always said and tried to explain that agency people are not necessarily or naturally “new business” people. Most agency folks are trained in creative disciplines and even to this day, seldom do university curriculums offer anything that even touches on sales or “selling.” Regardless of what someone says, even in this new age, selling is a dog-eat-dog business. Maybe it’s done with a little less angst; maybe it’s a bit more polite, but I would describe it today as misdirected and lacking in focus.

My business friend Blair Enns has been guiding agencies for years, and in his post today, and in his words, goes to greater detail in what I am referring to above. I doubt Shakespeare could do better. See if you agree.

A Target Audience of One

There is a woman. I see her clearly. She is an artist, a creator. It is her passion.

At some point she decides to make her passion her business. She opens a design firm. Owning a business demands other responsibilities of her. Now she must sell as well as create.

I see her standing in a room of people who are judging her work. Because her work is also her art, she is vulnerable. She does not see herself as a natural salesperson. Most of the advice she gets on this subject grates on her, or is laden with beguiling, debilitating conventions that cause her to feel even more vulnerable.

The business that is Win Without Pitching is built around helping this one person conquer this one situation. We teach creators how to sell. We empower them to stand up for themselves, to push back on the conventions that say they must first give their art away for free, and we help them to triumph in one of the most stressful situations in business.

Just as often, the woman is a man and the design firm will take a different form of creative practice, but I try to conjure in my mind a vivid image of the artist-business owner who must pass the test of selling in order to keep bringing her gifts to the world. I want to help her. I want my team to be heros to her.

I don’t know what other sales trainers or consultants see or even do. I don’t know or judge their motivations. All I know is, if, in our careers, we can help her and many more just like her then that will be enough for us.

In the Win Without Pitching program we have owners of other types of businesses beyond just creative firms, but they’re not with us because we pursued them. They’re here because, for reasons that are entirely their own, they identify with the artist-business owner and therefore our message resonates with them, too.

While I, too, identify strongly with this person I see so clearly, I am not her. You do not have to be your target audience of one, but you do have to have an enormous amount of empathy for her. I am not a designer, but I have huge admiration for all creators. I believe these people were born into their craft or called to it.

Let someone else help the natural salespeople, and let others help our artist with other areas of her business. This one thing for this one person we will do and we will do it better than anyone. If others find resonance in this they will be welcome, but we will stay resolutely focused on solving this problem for this person.

Against this certainty, this vivid picture, all of our big business questions become easy, their answers obvious and unavoidable.

How much confusion and inertia could you eliminate by simply answering the question, to whom are you going to be a hero?

There is a man. Can you see him clearly?

Blair Enns
Win Without Pitching
202 B Ave #454
Kaslo, BC V0G 1M0
+1.250.353.2591

You’ve Been Invited; Great! Now How Should You Handle Your Due-diligence Interview

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Headshots-April-2014-005-150x150In our AgencyFinder process, when you get an invitation on behalf of the client, carefully read all our invitational materials and in particular, study and then “vet” their Request for Dialogue (RFD). If you find everything to your liking and want to investigate further, that’s precisely why we offer the no-cost due-diligence telephone interview (for those at the Manager Plan level). I could have written something, but I spotted this piece by Jami Oetting that does a great job on our behalf. She approaches it from a slightly different perspective, but that too is worth the read. Now on to Jami – enjoy!

Are They Worth It? 26 Qualifying Questions to Ask Prospects

Written by Jami Oetting | @

How many times have you pitched a potential client, or sent a proposal, only to get a “Thanks, we’ll think about it and get back to you” email or phone call?

If you’re like most agencies, you pitch way more often than you close. And after awhile, you can become so discouraged you want to throw in the towel. Many agencies struggle with cash flow and thus leap at the chance to pitch anyone, hoping to get some business, any business, to keep the cash coming. And while we all need to put food on the table, (continue here)

 

The Five Objections

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

by Blair Enns @  www.winwithoutpitching.com   (Chuck says – from time to time I want to share what other business development pros have to say)

I spent the early part of my consulting practice advising you on using classic selling techniques to help overcome objections raised by the prospect in the buy-sell cycle. Over time it became clear that rather than trying to overcome these objections, you should be raising them for the prospect to overcome. I wrote about this idea of racing to object in the August, 2006 issue of the Win Without Pitching Newsletter, titled Creating Objections. This month I go deeper into this subject by exploring the five most common objections that you should arm yourself with, for use early in the buying cycle as a means of quickly shifting the power from buyer to seller.

Anytime you sense there might not be a perfect fit between the offering or ability of your firm and the needs and means of the prospect, you want to raise the objection before the prospect does. As I’ve written in this space previously, the dynamics of objections are such that if the prospect raises them, it is incumbent on you to deal with them, but the opposite is equally true. You will demonstrate an expert’s selectivity if you raise the concern first. If the objection is significant to the point that the prospect would be better served by another firm then you are not going to disguise this over a long sales cycle, so it is in the interest of both parties to deal with this early, before extensive resources are wasted. If the objection is less onerous, or if the prospect sees a route around it, he will help you deal with the objection, provided you give him the opportunity.

While it is in your interest to address any objection that you sense, there are five main objections that you should be prepared to drop on the prospect at any time. Let’s explore them, the language around them and some situations when you might employ them.

Objection #1: Money
Money, or price, being the most common objection, is the first one you should be prepared to raise. Some prospects simply will not be able to afford you. Some will come to you with engagements too small worth considering. And others simply need to know that there is a minimum price of entry to get onto your client roster. Be sure to raise this objection as soon as you sense it. Contrary to what some believe, it is never too early to talk money in a business setting.

The Language

An annual minimum level of engagement is a good place to broach the subject of money. (I addressed the math that allows you to arrive at your firm’s minimum in the January, 2008 issue, Business Development Planning.) Raise the issue of your minimum as soon as need or opportunity is identified. In its simplest form the objection sounds like, ‘Before we go too far I should tell you that we have a minimum level of engagement of $xxx in fees.’

You can follow up with, ‘Does the engagement we are discussing meet this minimum?’ Or, just silence. Silence is a powerful conversational tool. Like nature, the average person abhors a vacuum and will attempt to fill it. If you can resist filling the pregnant pause, the prospect will fill it for you, often by overcoming the objection or by beginning to close the gap between positions that the objection represents.

You might hear, ‘Yes, we’re prepared to spend that much.’ Or conversely, the prospect might respond with, ‘Oh – we can only afford a fraction of that amount.’ In either case the next steps are obvious; one is a sign to proceed and the other a sign to send the prospect on his way.

Between these extremes lies interesting middle ground where the prospect might consider adding more work to the engagement to meet your minimum. You will also uncover situations where the budget does not meet your stated minimum but might be healthy enough to merit consideration, given your capacity and ability to command a good profit margin on the engagement. In this last example be sure to keep the objection in place while you resume conducting your due diligence. If you do remove the objection, make sure it is the last thing you do before you close.

Objection #2: Project Work
In last month’s issue I discussed the idea that you should not be pursuing project work. When it does come to you, begin by raising the objection that you are not in the project business, then see what happens from there. By project, I mean short-term tactical engagements of any kind. Substitute brochure, website, or whatever tactical piece being discussed for the word project.

The Language

If a prospect calls to discuss a brochure assignment then you would respond accordingly: ‘We’re not in the brochure business.’

Then follow-up your objection with your reassurance statement – a description of the business you are in. In our brochure example you might proceed with, ‘We’re in the business of developing entire visual branding platforms.’ Then further explain, ‘We often do brochures and other sales collateral as part of that larger engagement, but if you are just looking for a brochure, ours is probably not the firm for you.’

Now the power begins to shift as you raise the initial objection, stopping the prospect at the gate. Continue by probing for a higher value, higher margin opportunity that will determine if you let the prospect through the gate or turn them back.

‘Before I say no let me ask, is this brochure part of a larger initiative?’

If you remember from the January, 2008 issue (Business Development Planning) in which I discussed your business development goals for the year, you do not build a lucrative practice by adding many small projects, but by carefully managing a small stable of high quality clients who engage you at a more strategic level. If the opportunity at hand is nothing more than a small project that would position you as the small project firm, then demonstrate an expert’s selectivity by sending the prospect packing, thereby preserving your positioning as an expert firm and preserving any future business opportunity.

Objection #3: Request for Proposal
The formal document called a Request for Proposal (RFP) is a sure sign of a bureaucratic selection process designed to bring the illusion of objectivity and transparency to the process. Be prepared at all times to whack this one down as soon as you get a hint of it. The language is straight-forward.

The Language

‘We don’t typically respond to RFPs.’

Alternatives include a stronger, ‘It’s our policy that we do not respond to RFPs,’ or the more fluid and playful, ‘We’re not in the proposal-writing business.’

With every objection you raise, you reserve the right to remove it. You are simply reversing the typical dynamics in the buy-sell cycle, asking the prospect if he will address the objections for you. His willingness to bend is an indication of the extent to which he recognizes and values your expertise, and an indication of the control he will give you in the buy-sell cycle. From time to time it may make sense to remove these objections (again, only right before you close) but you keep them in place as long as possible as a means of getting and leveraging power.

Again, in this example you can follow-up your objection with silence, or you can proceed right to, ‘Before I say no, let me ask you a few questions.’ If the prospect is willing to dismiss you at the first sign of the objection, then that is an indication that he sees many alternatives to hiring your firm. You therefore you have no power in the buy-sell cycle, which means no power once engaged. With few exceptions, this is not an opportunity worth pursuing.

Objection #4: Free Thinking
Free thinking, whether in the form of a formal speculative creative pitch or just uncompensated strategic guidance offered in the buy-sell cycle, is a danger zone that you want to avoid. Any client worth having will respect the fact that you do not give your highest value product away for free. As soon as you get a sniff of a request to part with free ideas or advice, draw the line by raising the objection in strongest possible terms.

The Language

‘It’s our policy that we do not begin to part with our thinking before we are engaged.’

As I’ve written previously, prefacing your objection with the words ‘It’s our policy,’ goes a long way to melting resistance. Other means of saying this include, ‘We don’t begin to solve our clients’ problems before we are engaged.’

There is a line that separates proving your ability to solve the prospect’s problem from actually beginning to solve it. When the prospect invites you to step over the line, simply point out the fact that the line is there. ‘I understand why you would ask us to come to you with some ideas – you’re simply looking for assurances that ours is the right firm for the job. But we would have to send you a contract and an invoice before we began working on the engagement. Keep your money for now, and let’s explore other ways we might determine if this is a good fit.’

In my own practice every once in a while I will cross the line and offer insight into the prospect’s situation – usually a form of diagnosing challenges rather than prescribing solutions, but before I do I will point out: A) the line exists, B) I’m going to step over it, breaking one of my own rules, and then C) watch me quickly retreat back over the line once I’ve made my point (and demonstrated my expertise.) It’s a playful approach that demonstrates a willingness on the part of the seller to work with the buyer while generating an understanding of exactly where the line is. Once you describe the line, the prospect will usually not ask you to cross it again.

Objection #5: Fit
The objection of poor fit is a broad one that can cover many situations. You would use it after diligently qualifying the prospect and determining that they cannot afford you. You would use it when the prospect’s needs are clearly outside of your area of expertise. You would also raise the fit objection with an unsophisticated prospect who doesn’t seem to recognize and value your expertise.

Determining a fit is almost always your objective in each and every business development interaction, and this objective should usually be stated aloud: ‘Our objective is to see if there’s a suitable enough fit between your need and our area of expertise to merit taking a next step together.’ Positioning yourself as an expert requires the demonstration of selectivity that a meaningful exploration of fit implies. If you suspect there is not a fit, say so and see how the prospect responds.

The Language

‘I don’t think there’s a fit here,’ is the straight-forward approach. Also try, ‘I think you might be better served by another firm.’ Feel free to suggest some options, pointing out where your firm differs from those you are suggesting.

In situations where a highly-coveted prospect begins discussing an enviable, lucrative engagement that is outside of your area of expertise – something you’ve never done before – then you should raise the objection. ‘While you’re talking about something that we would be excited to work on, you need to know that we’ve never undertaken this exact type of engagement before.’ If this is going to be an issue, then have it be an issue early and not late. Objections are your friends when you raise them early, and they are your enemies when the prospect raises them late. You build credibility by raising the objection and allowing the prospect to tell you how meaningful it is. If he sees your expertise as closely translating to the assignment at hand he may reply with, ‘Is there any way you could bring in some outside expertise to help you?’ Or, ‘I’m not worried. Based on your related experience I think you could do this.’

Your response might be, ‘Absolutely – we’re not worried about our ability to do this, but I wanted to be upfront with you about our experience.’ You are better off raising the objection for the prospect to address then you are pretending it does not exist and trying to close with the elephant in the room that nobody is discussing.

Summing Up
Expert firms drive the engagement. Order-taker firms let the client drive. If you want to drive like an expert once engaged then you need to begin to take control in the buy-sell cycle, before you are engaged. Taking control begins with raising objections to the common concerns outlined above. Look for the signs that the concern exists then raise the objection as soon as possible. From there, sit back and enjoy the awkward silence while you watch to see if the prospect overcomes the objection, or if he smacks into it and runs away.

To badly mangle an old adage, if you want the engagement bad enough, whack it hard. If it comes back, it’s yours (and you will be properly positioned as the expert); if it doesn’t, it was never meant to be.

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“Sales is Not a Dirty Word in the Agency Business,” with Chuck Meyst & Drew McLellan of AMI

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Chuck Meyst has been in sales all his life, from his childhood bike route to CEO and founder of AgencyFinder.com, a matchmaking service for agencies.

Chuck and Drew discuss the value in finding the right business matches for your agency. They cover everything from measuring the quality of potential match to how to stand out and create value as an agency.

The interview begins here: http://buildabetteragency.com/chuck-meyst/

Some highlights include: 

Have a clear focus of your goals and priorities going into a business match, and you will be a better client. Create something of value for potential clients, and you will be a better match as an agency. Chuck describes strategies to achieve this near minute 11:00 of our interview.

At minute 20:00, Chuck explains how the word “sales” is not something to fear, but something to embrace, and how to create maximum impact from it.

At minute 28:00,  Agencies make themselves valuable and different by being good listeners and asking pertinent questions to their clients.

At minute 37:00, Chuck describes the “power index,” AgencyFinder’s measurement tool of new business’ readiness. This index is powerful because it serves as a regulatory tool for an agency’s quality.

At minute 50:00, make your agency available for potential matches.  Chuck highlights simple ways to do this, without adding extra work to your agency.

That’s a wrap folks!

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Leads for Sale, Great Leads for Sale, Get Them While They’re Hot!

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Ridiculous you say? I would agree but when you take a close look at many agency new business services, they’re not far from suggesting that. On local radio, I hear ads for web services suggesting that all a business need do is let them know how many “leads” they want per week and they will deliver. Can you imagine!  Now let’s define a lead. Their lead is NOT someone ready to hire YOUR firm now; their lead is NOT prequalified and their lead is NOT someone who has even talked with this lead provider. Here’s what I call a lead … My friend Russell went to lunch yesterday at McDonalds. Sitting quietly by himself, he couldn’t help but hear what’s being said at a nearby table for 4. They’re not too happy with their agency; they talk about looking around. He listens to hear who they work for; when he learns he writes it down. Then he called the President of a local agency he knows and told him the story. That’s what I call a lead.

Here at AgencyFinder, our registered agencies have been getting invitations to speak with vetted and qualified advertisers for years. Those advertisers were ready to hire an agency and they had a pretty good idea what the agency should look like. Agency invitations go to those where their profile meet the client specs. Our agencies get “invitations” or as the dictionary says – a situation or action that tempts someone to do something or makes a particular outcome likely. Don’t find yourself doing business with a lead machine.

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Who is Going to Answer That Phone?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

I know of agencies paying $4,000 to $5,000 monthly to have third-parties working elsewhere make outreach calls trying to find someone, almost anyone who will agree to a meeting with the agency brass. On a score from 1 to 10, I rate those meetings at a 2. But who knows, once in a while it’s possible to strike Gold, so if the numbers work, why not? Now let’s take a look at that practice.  Contractors make the outreach call. That’s an expensive call, and I’m not talking about toll cost. Let’s assume the caller connects and has a good chat and asks for a call-back. Contractor has a process. Having implied he/she works for and at the agency, the number that was left goes to voicemail only, answered only in the contractor’s name and voice. That’s another story.

Now let’s say the prospect is in a hurry, so rather than waiting for a return call, they find and call the main number on the agency website. Now it begins – the looping “Who is going to answer that phone!”  Agencies nowadays have voicemail to cover the desk, so we get the – “Thanks for calling AgencyOne. If you know the extension of the party you’re calling, enter it now. For an agency directory, press 1. For this and that, press this or that. For New Business Press 4.” You’re routed to the Marketing Department. “No one can take your call. Please leave a message.”

I can be impatient, so I have learned to punch O for Operator. If a human is hovering somewhere nearby, that generally gets them. But as it stands, the O request too often loops you back to a voicemail announcement. At some smaller agencies, I have literally tried every extension they offer, yet that fails to surface a human. For that and any of the other important incoming calls, imagine the consequence of such treatment. Don’t let this silent killer cost you business. I suggest the “O” option should ring at 4-5 desks with Hell-to-pay when a phone goes unanswered by a human. One final note: please see that whomever answers NEVER asks the bane of anyone charged with agency new business – “will they know what this call is about?”

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Is Your Lead Gen Stalled? Do This One Thing

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

I want to share a recent insight about an easy way to break out of the lead generation rut.

In the Win Without Pitching program we spend a whole trimester on lead generation. Participants build a multi-tiered expert lead generation plan specific to their firm, and then in the trimester break they make a commitment to working that plan. When we reconvene for the next trimester they’ve developed some routine and are generating actual, live leads. These firms are in the groove – they’re turning lead generation activities into habits.

It’s pretty straightforward: craft a plan, work the plan long enough to make systematic lead generation a habit. It’s not rocket surgery. We help with the crafting of the plan but it’s up to the participants to work it.

As you might imagine, some work the plan and others do not. Some develop lead generation habits and some stick with their old habits of doing all kinds of things other than lead generation.

My recent insight is that the firms that break out of the rut and establish new, positive lead generation habits do one thing that we ask everyone to do. Those that do not do this one thing almost always remain stuck. It’s quite remarkable how the camps divide into the doers and the stallers based on this one thing.

The One Thing
I’m going to tell you what the one thing is and then I’m going to tell you why it works. My suggestion is, if you or your firm are currently in a lead generation rut, commit to doing this one thing now before you read what it is. Commit. NOW.

Ready? Read on…

The one thing we ask everyone to do and I’m asking you to do, is to publish on your website within the next 48 hours, the title, date and time of a webinar that you will deliver within the next 90 days.

That’s it. Think of a subject within your area of expertise, commit to the topic, commit to the date and put it on your website. From there you’ll have to add an abstract and a sign up form (you can do these later just be sure to do the first part with 48 hours.)

To be clear, the commitment is not to do a webinar within 90 days, it’s to make your commitment public within 48 hours. If you can do this one thing I promise you your lead generation fortunes will begin to change.

Why It Works
I’ll explain why this works to bust you out of your lead generation rut by first telling you why some people don’t do it, even when they’ve committed to it. They don’t do this one thing because they claim they’re not ready. Their excuse is they don’t have the content or the audience. And that’s exactly why this is so effective because content and audience don’t come first, commitment does. Commit to the event, publicly, by putting it on your website, and now you’ve put yourself in the position where you haveto develop the content and the audience. That will get you out of your rut.

Now you’ve got to make people show up so you’ll start thinking seriously about how to promote it. Your mailing list? Your social channels? Online ads? How are you going to get people to show up? You’ll wake up in the middle of the night worrying about this, therefore you’ll do something about it.

And then there’s the topic of what you’re going to say in this webinar. You’ve got 90 days to come up with content that makes you look like you know what you’re talking about on a subject on which you might only have superficial knowledge or a vague perspective. But 90 days is a long time. You can pull off a webinar on pretty much anything 90 days from now but if you don’t make the bet and put yourself in the position where you absolutely have to, you won’t do it, will you?

Commitment comes first. From that you will develop the audience and the content. Make the commitment. You have 48 hours. Come up with a title, a date and a time and let the world know what’s coming. Then add an abstract and a sign-up form. And then watch the magic begin. The magic is your own effort, effort that was previously missing because you did not have a real deadline. Now you do.

Congratulations, you’ve just put yourself into the doer camp. You’ve bet on your own future success and the outcome is positive. You’ve lent your shoulder to the lead generation flywheel and started it moving. Well done. Welcome to life outside of the rut.

Thanks to Blair Enns
Win Without Pitching
202 B Ave #454
Kaslo, BC V0G 1M0
+1.250.353.2951

A Mission With No Exit

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

by Blair Enns of Win Without Pitching

I’m a big user and raving fan of Evernote. I could never adequately explain to non-users why I like it so much. It’s software for taking notes. It works well. I don’t know – it just keeps getting better and I don’t remember what I did before it.

Earlier this year I was listening to a Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast featuring Evernote co-founder and CEO Phil Libin as the speaker when Libin said something that explained in an instant why the product was so good. He said for him, there was no exit – he was on a mission, the mission would never end and he would never sell. He was dedicating his professional life to Evernote. I understood then the impact of the owner being all in on his/her business. My reaction to Libin’s commitment to Evernote was to match it. In a moment, I decided that I too was all in on Evernote. I still marvel at how instant my pledge of allegiance was upon hearing that Libin himself was that committed.

There’s a large segment of the tech world that lauds the serial entrepreneur, but I’ll admit I’ve never understood it. These people are admired for how many companies they’ve spun up and exited but I never hear anybody taking stock of what happens to those businesses after they get acquired. For sure, some go on to be great businesses or important technologies in other great businesses and I don’t begrudge anyone their success or their right to sell what they’ve built. I can’t help but think however that most of these businesses just fade away after the founder leaves. I wonder how many of these exits end up being good for both the acquirer and the customer? I also wonder what those entrepreneurs could accomplish if they focused all their superpowers on just one endeavour?

Entrepreneurs have more vision and guts than any CEO-for-hire could possibly have. They have too – they’re always betting everything. (Just ask their spouses.) When you take that vision and courage out of a business, what’s left? Optimization and the pursuit of efficiencies.

I’ve been thinking of my own experience as a user of a new technology (that I won’t name) which I discovered a couple of years back, shortly after it launched. It was pretty cool, so I signed on and started using it. There were a few bugs but the founder/CEO was fixing them fast. He was clearly committed to the vision of the company. I knew this because I would get emails from him asking me questions about how I was using the platform. I would send him suggestions and he appeared to take them seriously – his replies would often come in the middle of the night. I started reading his blog. When he announced the sale of the company I was happy for him, but it wasn’t long before things started to feel different about the product. I lost interest in the founder’s blog and the company he founded. He’s on to the next thing and so am I.

Maybe some people have strengths that make the serial entrepreneur thing work for them, but it’s not me. I decided I was going to follow Libin’s path: I’m never selling. Everything I want to do in business I’m going to do through this one. Everything I want to do in life, this business will have to enable.

The False Promise of Retirement
If the idea of never selling strikes you as a big commitment, consider that I added it to an even bigger one I had made earlier last year when I decided I was never going to retire.

I now see the idea of retirement, in this age of the knowledge worker, as destructive. It causes us to put up with less than ideal circumstances today as we wait for our reward in the end, except the idealized reward of the retired life isn’t really what most of us want. We’re not coal miners retiring from physically punishing careers, after all. We have the luxury of working with our brains and enjoying it. Plus, as entrepreneurs, we have the ability to shape our reality to whatever we want it to be. The only thing in my way is me.

I think many business owners forget how much power they have to shape their reality. They start out pursuing freedom and then get trapped in a role they didn’t anticipate in a business that just kind of turned into what it is today, instead of steadily marching toward a vision of increased freedom and control.

We all want purpose in our lives. We want to keep making an impact, to reap the rewards of that impact now rather than deferring them, and to live life today doing things we love and are good at. We retire when we aren’t getting these things in our working life. Well, they’re not there in retirement either.

Go ahead and try it on – the idea that you will never retire but you will start retiring immediately from the things you shouldn’t be doing, the things you don’t really want to do. (Another idea stolen from Strategic Coach founder Dan Sullivan.) It will change everything. You will be reborn. You will also rethink your tax planning.

It’s remarkably liberating for me to know that there is no retirement and no sale. I know that I have to get this right. I need to always strive to make an impact, always reap the rewards as they come and live life at the same time; to keep focused on the mission of changing the way creative services are bought and sold the world over while knowing the tools and methods will constantly evolve, knowing my own ideas and role have to change with time, but never, ever altering in the mission.

The Price of Eyeing the Exit
When I look at creative firms that are stuck, it’s almost always because the principal has quit making big bets. He or she has gotten complacent instead of making bets on future success. What’s almost universally true about these firms is the principal has one eye on the exit. He or she is neglecting the difficult decisions, shying away from the big bets in the hope that the forces of change can be staved off until retirement.

If there’s one thing I wish I could do for these people it would be to wave my magic wand and make their business a life sentence. I know then they would get it right. They would face the difficult decisions about their businesses, their roles inside and their lives outside of them, and it would be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Your Bonfire on the Beach Awaits
Like Cortez arriving on the shores of South America, I’ve burned the ships behind me, cutting off any escape route. I’m doing this Win Without Pitching thing until I die, so I have to get it right and therefore I will.

There are so many things to get right and so many skills that I don’t personally posses, so I have to increase the pace of my learning, I have to develop skills I’ve never had or really needed before, I have to rely on others (making culture and teamwork infinitely more important than I ever thought they could be), I have say no to the things I should no longer be doing, I have to keep bringing vision and guts – to keep betting everything on what I see and believe – and I have to live life now. I’ve put myself in a position where I have to do all the things I’ve ever wanted to do.

I can’t burn your ships for you, but if I could, I would. I would burn them to the waterline, drag what’s left up on shore, burn that too, roast weenies on the embers and toast to your glorious future with scotch whiskey from a chipped enamel cup. I would do it and you would thank me because we both know that bonfire on the beach would be the best thing that ever happened to you.

How great could you, your firm and your life be if you closed the exits and went all in on your business? Who would bet against you? Not me. I’d be all in on you, too.

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Well done Blair; this got me thinking!

The Power of Precision Guessing — Or Why There’s No Algorithm for Great Advertising

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Written by Bob Hoffman and posted to Agency Post

We know that consumer behavior is often irrational. That’s why there are large market share differences among products that are essentially the same.

We also know that consumers tend to be pragmatic and don’t like to throw their money around on crap. That’s why so many new products fail.

So how do we reconcile these two seeming contradictions? How can consumers be both strangely emotional yet essentially pragmatic? We can’t explain it. That’s what makes advertising so interesting. It’s like physics. There are two equally reliable, yet contradictory ways to explain the physical behavior of matter.
General relativity describes the world one way. Quantum physics describes it another. They are completely different, and often contradictory theories. And yet each is equally capable of explaining and predicting the behavior of matter — general relativity on a large scale and quantum physics on a small scale.

We face a similar (and far less important) enigma in advertising. If you ask an advertising expert “what makes a great campaign,” he/she will provide you with a list of adjectives — beautiful, persuasive, funny, entertaining, convincing … but the truth is, nobody really knows what makes a great ad campaign.

I can show you a hundred campaigns that were all of those things and failed, and you can show me a hundred that were none of them and succeeded.

The thing that drives ad people crazy, and makes advertising such a fascinating endeavor, is that there is no algorithm for great advertising. No one has been able to define the proper proportions of the emotional and the practical, the nonlinear and the utilitarian, the entertaining and the convincing.

And that leads us to the point of this piece. The present obsession with media delivery systems may help our media people locate a certain type of person more easily, but is never going to provide the spark of brilliance on how to motivate this person.

Understanding motivation still comes from the brains of talented people who somehow know what the right combination of ingredients is to motivate a certain type of person in a certain category.

They don’t know how they know it, and sometimes they don’t even know that they know it. But they do.

That’s why there are a few people who consistently create wonderful, successful advertising and others who create consistently mediocre advertising.

It’s a gift that some creative people have for precision guessing. That’s all it is, but it is the amazing gift that separates real advertising talent from the rest of us.

This article is an excerpt from Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey. It is published with permission from Type A Group.

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AgencyFinder comment: AgencyFinder agency profiles are populated with more than 500 data fields, yet that’s not enough nor will any number at any website ever suffice to pair agencies with an advertiser without the intervention and contribution of “humans.” That’s also why great advertising will never be produced or evaluated formuliacally. Bob and I are in complete agreement. That’s Bob Hoffman, The Most Provocative Man in Advertising at Type A Group, Oakland, CA

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