Here’s the question. What do you need to know about your client’s business? How much do you need to know? And on the flip side, how much do they need to know about yours? For years, I have been on a campaign against those who said, “You need to know more about your client’s business than they do,” or “be smarter about your clients’ business than they are.” Needless to say, I always have had little or no patience for colleagues who pontificated on how they’d fix our clients’ issues and bigger business problems, or how they’d manage the client business better, or worse, those who claimed to change the way, the client did business.
Let’s be honest. Don’t you hate it when the client “knows” our business better than we do? Doesn’t it drive you up the wall when they play Creative Director, Media Analyst, Brand Strategist or Account Executive!!!!!!!
“What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”…as the saying goes (some saying….). Ergo, if we don’t want them messing in our business, we should not be so arrogant to assume that we know theirs too, if you get my drift.
Bottom line, it seems to me, we need to know as much about their business as we can. But we need to be able to bring insights into their business based on our knowledge of our business, which should be about the customer/user/buyer. See where I’m going?
The best relationships – the best client-agency partnerships – are based on our knowing our business. They know their business and share the confluence of the two in ways that add incremental, if not exponential, value to the whole.
That said, every day should be a new day for us and for our clients. Go to sleep. Check out the morning news and there is always something fresh and novel to wonder about and some new innovation that should make us look at where we were yesterday with fresh eyes.
To that end, I heard a great quote this week at an MSN global Client Conference. The speaker was on a panel and he was discussing the very issue I began with: how much do we really know and what is it that we should be pursuing? He told the crowd that his personal Mantra and the Mantra of his agency, Wieden & Kennedy (one of the top creative forces in the industry) always has been:
“Walk in stupid”
Meaning: don’t assume you know. Never assume you know more and always be open to knowledge, learning and “the new.”
By the way – it doesn’t mean walk in dumb……….
So be open. Learn from your clients. Help them learn from you. And, together learn from every source you can.
Do that and you never walk in alone……..