When we started BatesMeron, we created a Manifesto.
Before building our agency, we were trying to define what an agency should be, and to discover whether that voice would set us apart from the masses. After a very long and rambling series of thoughts by me were boiled down into powerful statements by Shachar (what he does best), we knew we had found a unique perspective.
As it turns out, that Manifesto has been the driving force behind our business for nearly five years. It has been our moral compass, helped shape our Brand Blueprint, reminds us to always respect those we work with, and occasionally forces us to confront issues that would much easier be avoided.
I thought I’d start my blog contribution by breaking apart our six-point Manifesto—explaining it, analyzing it and giving examples of why it’s so important to both our company and our partners.
Point 1 of the BMSD Manifesto is: Be who you say you are. 90% of business is just following on your promises.
When working at previous agencies together, Shachar and I were shocked to see how often this simple rule of business was ignored—by the agency, by the client, even by the vendors.
After all, most of what is promised every day amounts to returning phone calls and making sure work gets done on time and on budget. Yet we continually hear from our clients, “Oh, you called me when you said you would!” Isn’t that a given? Has the bar really been set that low?
But surprisingly, there were many vendors out there who wouldn’t return phone calls, who made promises they didn’t keep—often on the first project they were awarded! I mean, c’mon—you chased our business for six months. You finally landed it. We request a quote, and we have to call you three times to get it?
This truly blew our minds.
And clients aren’t off the hook either. It’s true that clients have the upper hand, but why abuse it? We were really surprised by how unresponsive clients could be. We would pull a week’s worth of all-nighters, only to have the client admit to “not having a chance to review the work yet.” And that’s in a self-described “emergency situation.” Yikes.
But truly, the agency shortcomings were what hit us the hardest. A design firm, boutique, ad agency—whatever the specialty—is a unique animal. We sell concepts that are intangible until the printer or programmer produces a finished product. The agency sells the promise of something exciting and new, something to make their client a star. Believe me, this is a hard product to sell! So imagine our dismay when the opportunity to present that super-fantastic-awesome-wonderful concept arises, and the powers-that-be drop the ball.
It’s happened a hundred different ways. You’d be so depressed if I listed them all. Here’s some all-time favorites from previous agencies we worked at:
1. Our account executive didn’t like the concept, so she stuffed it in her trash bin before leaving for the meeting. (That mock-up only took 16 hours.)
2. Our agency head arrived late to the pitch, only to say “Wow, did you guys come up with that concept? It’s great!” (During the pitch…in front of the clients…no, I’m not kidding.)
3. A huge opportunity with a wonderful client was missed because a call was never returned. A call was never returned.
At that point, it seemed pretty obvious to us: if we were going to live or die by our creative work, we weren’t going to outsource professionalism. And almost five years on, we hope to always follow through on our promises.
If we don’t, feel free to egg our cars.
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