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Mr. Chris Shumaker

It's the People, Stupid

As the political season draws to a close, it seems fitting to borrow from a famous political campaign quote to concisely convey my point of view about what new business is really all about–people. Yes, we generate insights that lead to strategy, which produce big, giant ideas that resonate with consumers to the degree that they act with their loyalty and their wallets. And it is precisely this sequence of deliverables that our clients are seeking from agencies. So, it stands to reason that when clients seek a new agency partner, they ask for—and we provide—the insights and ideas they need for business and we need for a “win.” But, is that what clients really hire?
Agencies can get so caught up in the deliverables that they can forget about the delivery–the people. I have known pitch situations where clients have hired agencies with mediocre ideas delivered by people they trust and respect. But I don’t know of many pitch situations, if any, where clients have hired agencies with great ideas delivered by people they don’t trust or respect. Recently, a review consultant put an exclamation point on my belief by telling me that she has seen agencies come back and win after bombing an interim meeting during the pitch process. But, she has never seen that happen when the agency had poor or no chemistry with the clients. Never.
Casting is king. Be smart about who is selected for your team. Don’t just pick available people, pick the right people. No reluctant warriors…only people who have a genuine interest and passion for the business. Lastly, be a team, a real team. Don’t commit to the win, commit to each other that each person will give their absolute best. Don’t let each other down throughout the process and winning becomes a byproduct, even if you have a mediocre idea. Clients want a key insight and great idea, but that’s the price of entry. Recognize the winning difference is the people you put in the room, and you’ll be a genius.

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