Chemistry is Key to Client/Agency Success

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When selecting an agency to partner with, I always counsel those doing the search to begin with “chemistry.” The two most important factors in client/agency relationships, in my opinion, are trust and respect. These two factors dictate how well the people involved get along – what their chemistry is likely to be. While creativity, price, and service always factor into the equation, what was always most important to me when I was a “client” was being comfortable that my agency contact was able and willing to tell me what I needed to hear, even if it wasn’t always what I wanted to hear.

 

In my estimation, every creative agency offers “arms and legs.” What sets the best agencies apart from the rest is the strength of conviction that allows them to speak up and share their point of view or perspective on important topics time after time after time. This is really what smart clients are paying for.

 

No one has all the answers. Therefore, smart clients look forward to hearing a variety of opinions and viewpoints. This is critical to making the most informed decisions.

 

Surprisingly, from time to time I run into corporate marketers and managers who don’t welcome objectivity. These are people who don’t value their agency’s background or base of experience. They know what they want to do and be damned with what anyone else may think or say. More often than not, these are the people who fail. They fail as leaders, administrators, and team members. They are not good marketers. They are not good team leaders.

 

Agencies also fail, in my estimation, when they don’t have the strength of commitment to stand up for what they know is right. They have no guts. They are more concerned about making money than providing the one key service their clients need most … an honest point of view.

 

Honesty isn’t always an easy pill to deliver – especially by agencies that live hand to mouth; nor is it easy for the client whose business may be tanking to accept. That said, it is the only thing that really matters for both. I continue to be amazed by the people in business today who just don’t get it! They are often the same people who don’t think chemistry matters.

 

─ Bill

Jerry Maguire or Bill Deeter?

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I was flipping channels the other day and I stumbled across a favorite movie of mine, “Jerry Maguire.” I was lucky and landed on the channel right at the start of the movie as Tom Cruise’s portrayal of the title character was narrating the set-up of the whole storyline. Cruise says: “I couldn’t escape one simple thought: I hated myself. No, no, no, here’s what it was: I hated my place in the world. I had so much to say and no one to listen. And then it happened.

 

It was the oddest, most unexpected thing. I began writing what they call a mission statement. Not a memo, a mission statement. You know, a suggestion for the future of our company.”

 

Cruise’s character, a hot shot sports agent for a big agency was feeling troubled after realizing that he was fixated on huge dollar contracts for his clients, his company, and ultimately himself. Through this, he had lost touch with “the simple pleasures of (his) job.” He no longer appreciated “the way a stadium sounds when one of (his) players performs well on the field.”

 

Through this catharsis, he understood that “with so many clients, (he and his colleagues) had forgotten what was important.”

 

That’s when Maguire stays up through the night to write the mission statement. In the film, Cruise continues the narration:

 

“I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and I’m not even a writer. I was remembering even the words of the original sports agent, my mentor, the late great Dickie Fox who said: ‘The key to this business is personal relationships.’

 

Suddenly, it was all pretty clear. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. More attention. Caring for them, caring for ourselves and the games, too. Just starting our lives, really.”

 

As I watched this opening scene, which I’ve seen literally a dozen times, I had my own break through. There is a Jerry Maguire-like character walking the floors at DeeterUSA … my father, Bill Deeter.

 

2015 marks our firm’s 30th year, and during the 15 years I’ve been on the team I’ve heard my dad on numerous occasions talk with prospective clients, existing clients, suppliers, new hires, and just about anyone else who will listen about why and how he started the firm. Some of the founding principles of DeeterUSA?

 

  • No more than 10 active accounts at any one time (Jerry Maguire’s “fewer clients”)
  • Everybody works on every account (Maguire’s “more attention”)
  • We work hard at DeeterUSA, yet try to keep our time in the office reasonable (Maguire’s “Caring for ourselves”)

 

All in all, these may seem like a simple ideas, yet when you package it up and tie a nice bow around these and several other principles my dad embraced to start DeeterUSA, there is a unique philosophy at our firm that has proven successful for our team and our clients for three full decades.

 

-Drew