Not long ago, I was having dinner with the Marketing Director of a firm that Plan B works with when he asked me to guess why he had been pushing so much work our way lately.
I thought back on our many recent successes – a huge repositioning/rebranding effort, website redesign, refreshed trade show presence, interactive sales app, and all new selling style – and I offered my diplomatic assessment, “I think it’s because our team is genuinely excited about your business and your brand, and we’re really committed to your success.”
“Well, that’s pretty close!” he said. “Want to know why the Chairman thinks it is?” he invited with a smirk. I wasn’t sure about the tone of “pretty close,” but took the bait anyway. “Of course!” I said, “What does he think?”
“Well,” he continued, “Dan* told me, ‘Plan B’s people are exceptional. They all seem to give a BIG shit – about EVERYTHING. It’s taken me 30 years to feel that way about an advertising agency. I don’t know where they find them, but every person on the Plan B crew is a unicorn. Exceptional people.’”
I was generally correct in my assessment of the value Plan B represented to Dan and the company he founded, but my words lacked the concise clarity of his bold statement. The marketing director went on to reminisce about our original pitch meeting, when we presented to his boss a daringly brutal assessment of their current marketing efforts, ignoring their RFPs suggestions on what NOT to address, and instead doing what we knew was right. We won the business that day, before any other agency had presented, precisely because we’d so powerfully demonstrated that we “gave a shit” about their brand and business — not the presentation guard rails.
In life, business, and marketing in particular, we’re prone to ignoring our gut instincts. And we avoid ‘Giving A Shit’ (let’s call it ‘G.A.S.’) because there’s no way to quantify, value, or bill for it. We too often settle for ‘good enough’ instead of striving for ‘exceptional’ because, if we play it safe, we can avoid the potential boat-rocking repercussions of standing in our clients’ shoes and taking on the burdens of what’s REALLY keeping them awake at night. And sure, there are many areas where we still lean on deep data to guide us, but creating a work environment and instilling a professional ethic whereby employees are not only encouraged, but expected to G.A.S. has driven Plan B and our clients to far more powerful insights, more stunning solutions and more ROI success stories than by any other combination of management theories, industry best practices, or data-derived directives.
So, that’s where it all begins with Plan B – a bold ‘alternative’ to the reactive ‘paid-best-friend’ service style that seems to drive most of today’s advertising agency world. We’re an ad agency partner who believes that ‘exceptional’ should BE the rule. We’re authentic entrepreneurial ad industry zealots who never read the script about how this business is supposed to work. Our Account Service Staff, Planners, Strategists, Technologists, Creatives, Videographers – okay, EVERYONE – are in this because we love it. Because we live it. And when others insist, “It can’t be done that fast,” we say, “Let’s get started.”
So, when framing your needs in a marketing partner, or your approach to evaluating an agency’s true value and capabilities, consider Chairman Dan’s assessment as a more reliable metric. Because when your budget realities don’t match your current ad agency’s expectations, or their strategic insights and creative solutions fall short of yours, there’s simply no substitute for a partner you know will always G.A.S.
– Clay Cooper
Partner/Director of Client Services
* While the account is true, the names have been changed to preserve the anonymity of the parties involved.