When you think about it, a creative director has two jobs. One is running the creative team — spearheading and delivering ideas, campaigns, content and results for clients. The other is supporting new business — helping the sales team show prospects why your agency is the one to choose.
Throughout my career, before I launched my own agency, I was constantly told by my bosses, “You’re spending too much time working in the business. We need you working more on the business.” What that meant was: You spend too much time doing work for clients. We need you to do more selling to prospects.
With respect to my past bosses — and I’ve had some really good ones — I fervently disagree. Taking care of your clients, by doing great work and delivering results, is the job. Marketing and selling on behalf of your agency is also important. But if you don’t prioritize your clients, everything else is academic.
Let’s get philosophical for a moment. Why are we here? Why does any service business exist? To help a client solve a problem, or achieve a goal, that they can’t do themselves. (Or perhaps they can, but they would benefit greatly from the support and expertise of an outside team.) Whether you run a marketing agency, a law firm, an architectural practice, or whatever — your value is hinged to your ability to help your clients solve those problems or achieve those goals.
At IMA, we’re extremely proud to say that, in the almost ten years we’ve been in business, we’ve lost only two clients. That’s borderline miraculous for a marketing/advertising house. (As Don Draper once told Peter Campbell: “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.”) For us, it’s the proof that we’ve living up to what we set out to be.
And that is:
An agency that takes the word “partnership” exceedingly seriously.
Our dedication runs deep. We don’t shut it off at 5pm. And it shows. Because, in us, our clients found something that they didn’t get anywhere else, something they don’t want to go without. And that’s the ultimate proof of one’s value. Way more credible than any award.
As for working on your business … well, your dedication to working in the business will pay off there as well. After all, the best generator of new business is the great work you’re already doing. Forget the sizzle. Get right to the steak. Show your prospects your campaigns and case studies. Show them the results achieved. Then show them testimonials from your clients — the people who have come to trust you for up to a decade.
That should tell them all they need to know.
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