Do Something Different

3 eggs lined up with one painted. Text reads Do Something Different.

I sat down yesterday to write a blog article for the month that we can put on my company’s website. The subject was using the newness of the year and the spirit of making resolutions and correlating that to goal setting for businesses. I even had five easy steps to follow. Once it was done, I had a few trusted people review it. Two of our teammates called me on it. They said, “Tony, this doesn’t match our new mantra for doing business in 2019.” They were right, so I scrapped it.

You see, our new agency mantra is “Do Something Different.” That’s a really big statement in just three simple words. You want higher sales. Do something different. You want better ROI? Do something different. You want consumers to engage more with your brand? Do something different. This isn’t meant to be a lesson in Einstein’s definition of insanity, this is just good business sense. Too often clients are unwilling to upset the status quo in favor of attempting something new, and it is not their fault. It’s ours.

Back in 2000, I saw a movie called, Boiler Room. It was about a college dropout struggling to make his father proud, so he gets a job at a shady stock broker firm. The FBI tries to bring the firm down, and drama ensues. There is a line in that movie that really made me think. Ben Affleck’s character, Jim Young, tells a group of young recruits that, “A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock, or he sells you on a reason he can’t. Either way, a sale is made.” I never looked at sales in that manner before. It changed my thinking. Now I believe that if we fail to sell a client on an idea, it’s not on the client, it’s on us. Ad professionals who fail to provide our clients with solid reasons why they should do something different, fail at selling the idea. And, make no mistake, asking clients to do something different is a BIG ask.

The vast majority of ad agencies want to do great work for their clients. We want to move the needles of the KPIs for our clients. We want to implement game-changing creative that our clients talk about for years to come. We want to provide relevant data with intelligent insights that impact our clients’ decision making. But what we’re often missing in all of these good intentions is a well-lit path forward for our clients. Client fears are always well founded. They came from actual experience where the client has invested significant resources and got little ROI in exchange. This is really tough to overcome, but not impossible.

We’ve all heard the old saying that if all you are is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. I tell my team that it is up to us to bring a big o’ tool box to every project we work on. And most times, we have to use a bunch of those tools to sell in an idea to a client. We’re attempting to solve complex problems with complex solutions. I hate the common business phrase of “Outside the box thinking.” I’m not really sure what inside the box thinking is, but that phrase has become too commonplace. However, the sentiment stands. Client problems are complex, so do something different.

This is about earning trust, not about being slick and polished. Research, insights, a great idea, a team dedicated to flawless execution, experience, and killer measurement still win the day, but if you fail to sell in your great idea and execution plan, no one will ever see the idea.

Do something different is a challenge to all clients and all agencies. The slate has been wiped clean. You’re starting a new semester. If 2018 was a great year, fantastic, but you have to do something different to repeat that success. If 2018 was an off year, then you must do something different to turn things around for your company. In either case, you need to upset the status quo. You need to attempt new things. You need to invest in the people you trust the most. And, you need to Do Something Different. At least that’s what we’re going to do in 2019.