Who people do business with

A few cows I ran into during a recent trip to Naskik, India.

A few cows I ran into during a recent trip to Naskik, India.

Here we go again. Another joke at the expense of the ever stupid and boorish client providing me with another opportunity for my soapbox: the ad agency industry is struggling to demonstrate its value in today’s radically changing marketing landscape. It needs to put an end to its practice of openly disrespecting those who look to them to add value. It doesn’t help.

(Semi-random idea: Wouldn’t it be an excellent job for an ad agency professional group—the missions of most, I assume, have something to do with enhancing the profession—to monitor these things and comment on them? Mitigate it? Assign that to the PR Committee Chair. Give them something productive to do beyond promoting their awards dinner.)

The guys behind Business Guys on Business Trips are funny and insightful, and their blog is balanced (this cartoon is not a reflection of their work as a whole). Here’s the truly insightful thing though: people do business with people they know and trust.

Brad Simpson put his teeth on the bone (which came to me via @Carl_Ingalls in Twitter on 9/16/09):

b2_quoteThe sales profession has many sacred cows, and the holiest of the herd is the belief that people buy from people they like.

That’s exactly who I bought from when I hired agencies and guys like me.

So. Why do we think a client turns to their blogger brother-in-law for input on our web strategies? Why are they seeking advice from their first year art student boss’ kid about a logo design?

Because we haven’t established enough trust with them.

I encourage my clients to seek input from wherever they feel most comfortable. I can’t force trust: I can only earn it. One way I can earn it is by demonstrating a sensitivity to the fact that people need to turn to people they do trust. If their boss’ kid gives irrational, uninformed feedback on my work and the client accepts it then that’s a client to whom I’m not going to add much value anyway.

Recognizing I haven’t been at this very long, seems to me that all I have is the trust of my relationships. And I can’t spend enough time building and maintaining it.