Relationships Are a Two-Way Street

May 24, 2018

by Kacie Escobar

As much as I’d like to believe myself to be the next Paul Rand (designer of IBM, UPS, ABC and other world-famous corporate logos), the truth is my graphic design skills don’t go much further than a customized template in Canva.  While this often does the trick, I’m smart enough to know when it’s time to call in the big guns.

It’s not uncommon for agencies like ours to partner with others when client work requires the development of creative assets that can’t always be managed in-house.  You might think that working with clients every day has taught me what it takes to be a good customer, but I was grateful today for a refresher.  Thanks to Evolve Design Group’s Mark Calvert, CDB Productions’ Vivian Richardson and Macbeth Studio’s Jim Hobart for reminding me how to be a good client during today’s meeting of the FPRA Orlando Area Chapter.

Here’s what our guest speakers had to say:

  • Check your expectations.  Key to a successful partnership is realistic expectations – not just deep pockets.  It can be equally rewarding to work with a small company on a tight budget if their expectations are realistic and they understand the value of services being rendered.  Good clients realize the finished product is often more complicated to create than it looks.  They also understand that no one works for free.
  • Don’t try teaching a cat to fetch.  Get a dog.  In other words, do your research to ensure the vendor is a good fit for your project.  If you don’t already have vendor relationships, Google should be your best friend.  Conduct research to find vendors who deliver the service you seek.  Review their case studies and portfolios, years of experience and staff size, and narrow down the list based on your priorities.  Check references if their client list is public.  Only then will you be ready to reach out.
  • Know what you want.  What does success look like to you? Define what you want to accomplish before reaching out.  Develop a project brief summarizing your vision, including the problem or opportunity you face, the audience you aim to reach, your plan to use the deliverables, ideal timeline and budget.  Your vendor will then have enough information to provide educated recommendations and guide you in the right direction based on their expertise.
  • Trust.  No one likes being micromanaged.  Before you jump in to control the creative process, think about how much time and money your partners have invested into honing their craft, and why you’ve called upon their expertise rather than attempting to do the work on your own.  The best clients provide constructive feedback and respect the creative process.

Just like any relationship, the client-vendor relationship is a two-way street.  On behalf of Curley & Pynn and our agency colleagues, I hope you’ll keep these insights under consideration next time you’re looking to engage a vendor.

Avoiding the New Normal

October 25, 2011

by Kim Taylor

When I saw this post from Harvard Business Review, I wondered if the author had been peering over my shoulder when he wrote it.  I’ve been struggling with this one for a long time and it’d been the subject of a recent discussion in our office.

In a professional services business, you’re not selling jars of peanut butter, you’re selling time; and generally speaking, a finite amount of it.  And while we’ve always proclaimed that our business is not an ‘8 to 5’ gig, we’re not brain surgeons, NASA engineers or first responders either, and therefore the workday should include a logical beginning and end.

How, then, do you reconcile that against growing competition, client demands and a recession-induced smaller workforce?  It certainly seems that at some point the message we’re sending is mixed.

But more importantly, it creates a slippery slope, a “new normal” as the author points out:

“But once you begin expanding your work hours on a regular basis, working “normal” hours starts to look like slacking off. In other words, if you establish a pattern of staying late, your extended hours become the new normal.”

We periodically look for opportunities to close up a few minutes early—but convincing our team it’s actually OK to go is often a struggle.

What are your time management tips for avoiding the new normal?

The Dirtiest Seven-Letter Word in Business

December 20, 2010

by Kim Taylor

M-e-e-t-i-n-g. If there was ever a function of doing business I could live without, it’d be meetings. But, darn if most of them aren’t at least somewhat necessary … especially in professional services firms. Meetings are where ideas are generated, work is disseminated and people are brought up to speed. But, if you’re like us, you often wrestle with the sometimes-soaring people costs of these meetings.

A few weeks ago something great happened; I had the opportunity to join my peers from agencies throughout the country for “Leadership Camp.” And, while I took away more nuggets of wisdom than I ever expected, one tiny tip really stuck with me. It came from an exec at Texas’ best public relations firm:

Before you begin a meeting, jot down the total cost of the meeting (presuming that you bill time by the hour like we do) on your agenda, or if you’re like us, on your wipe erase wall.

Trust me, if you have even a few people in a meeting for an hour (or more!), the time and cost to the client really adds up. Eyeballing that price tag every 15 minutes or so is a surefire way to stay on track.

What’s your secret to being a good steward of your clients’ budgets? Or, do you have another meeting tip to share? I’d love to hear it.

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