There’s a popular excuse that many agencies make for themselves when it comes to developing their own brand that has to do with “the cobbler’s shoes” and basically how we’re all like a shoemaker who makes shoes for every customer except his own children. I should know. I used to make this excuse myself. But with a semi-embarrassed grin that was actually more of a badge of courage, gosh darn it, you’ve got to service those clients that pay the bills!
I’d keep making this excuse over and over as if someone would take pity on me, “Wow, it’s so admirable that he services all those clients but doesn’t do anything for himself.”
Yeah. That pity party’s not coming.
That’s when I realized: You ARE a client that helps pay the bill.
Think about it. What helps register a powerful impression that in turn helps generate leads? Your business card. Your website. Your blog. Your social networking. Your “real world” networking. Your own professional development. These elements and more help your agency’s brand grow. So why would you kick all that to the bottom of the list every time?
We have to stop viewing ourselves as the last priority because we technically speaking don’t pay the bills via our own brand. That’s a huge mistake.
View your own brand as a client.
This is the only way an agency can treat its own brand with any measure of respect. If you see your own agency’s brand development as another client among your roster, you will make it more of a priority. If you see it as something you should get around to doing, it won’t go anywhere.
There will never be a good time to work on your own stuff. Never.
There may be peaks and valleys in the workflow, but something else will come up. And then your own stuff will be pushed again. The new rendition of the website, a brochure, videos, whatever is part of your self-promotional strategy. Easy to do? Oh no. Not by a longshot, trust me. Right now, in fact, I’m in the process of updating my own company website. Is that pulling me away from other client work? No. I’m not suggesting you ignore them for one second. You bet that makes for an interesting juggling act when it comes to incorporating agency self-promotion. Still, there’s something about adding your own brand to the list of other client brands on the traffic list that keeps it front and center.
I do know that when you add a new client, you make time for that new client, don’t you? You add it to the roster, give it the attention it deserves, meet with key people, strategize a plan of attack, execute for them. You find a way to make it work. So the whole “We don’t have enough time” song and dance is covering up for the fact that you don’t see yourself as a high priority.
Sure, this integration is a work in progress. I get that. But the key word is progress. Kicking your own brand to the bottom time after time isn’t progress. It’s treating your own client – one of your most satisfying, rewarding clients – like an afterthought.
Would you treat any other client with so much potential as an afterthought? I seriously doubt it. Then think about how you’re going to service the client within so much better on a regular basis.
A thought to help you begin? Don’t spew out a bunch of tactics that you’re going to start doing tomorrow. I don’t recommend that for my own clients (Facebook! Twitter! LinkedIn! And more!). Instead, consider this change in mindset as your very first step. Because if you don’t truly view yourself as a client, your effort will go nowhere fast.
Once your head is in the right direction, your strategy and ultimately, your tactics can follow.
Congratulations on your new client.
Great point, Dan! Cool thing about a first step – inevitably, there will be another!
Quick tactical idea: some ad agencies will develop white papers or some quantitative or qualitative research for themselves to use in their prospecting efforts. These can also do double duty, in that they can be shared with your paying clients. A nice way for your own work on your own business to be as valuable as possible.
Love it, Steve! That’s a win-win indeed.
Good advice that I am going to use for myself! Thanks Dan for reminding us of this first step!
Glad I could give a little extra inspiration to “A Woman of Substance,” Holly!
Pingback: What’s That In Your Social Media Background? Nothing? | Chicago Brander