Solving the Six Sides of the Client Loyalty Puzzle
Whether you like it or not, most clients will have a wandering eye—a catchy campaign they envy, packaging at a conference that pops, a product they’ve never seen before. Even when your client professes to be “happy” with the work you do, they will take a longing look at your competition from time to time. However, if you consistently create work that matters, the reality of the wandering eye isn’t a negative in terms of fostering long-term client loyalty.
Because I believe the wandering eye of your clients is an eventuality, there are only two approaches:
1. Grumble about it and hope beyond hope that the competition isn’t blowing you out of the water.
2. Focus on doing work that matters and will hold up against any competitor.
Creating and delivering “work that matters” consistently—the type of work that brings back the wandering eye of your clients—is like solving a Rubik’s Cube. When first looking at an unsolved Rubik’s Cube, it’s a daunting (if colorful) mess. However, when you learn to take the right approach to manipulate the puzzle using the correct combinations, the mystery can quickly and routinely be figured out. When it comes to solving marketing challenges for your clients, you must solve each side of the client’s cube to create work that matters:
White – Start with Story. When it comes to creating great promotions, always start with the story for one simple reason: The most impactful advertising ideas can only be expressed in words that absolutely teem with visual possibilities. Only then can the narrative and visual vehicle work together in perfect harmony.
Orange – Computers Don’t Create. Without a creative idea rolling around your brain, the computer is a thoughtless, hollow brick that produces form without relevant content and content without meaningful form. Before glancing at your computer, develop your idea first. You can’t run until you learn how to walk.
Green – Silence is Golden. Never listen to music when trying to create or solve a client problem, especially if you love music. The music you consider to be great is as involving as it is transformative and carries you away. Sadly, it will take you away to a place you don’t need to be when you need to solve a specific client problem with a communicative idea.
Red – Throw Caution to the Wind. If you truly want to leverage creativity for your clients, you must be fearless. If you’re more tentative than decisive, more cautious than creative, you’ll never be innovative or a great visual communicator. There is no such thing as a “cautious creative.”
Yellow – People are Smart (Including Your Clients). Every person has an innate ability to place a promotional product in its marketing context with lightning speed, enabling them to judge astutely. They understand complex concepts and always respond to an idea—a robust and central concept—especially when presented in a warm, human way. If you think your clients are dumb, you’ll spend a lifetime doing foolish work.
Blue – Trends are Traps. Advertising and marketing are forms of art. As such, the solution to each new client problem must begin with a blank canvas and an open mind—not the nervous borrowings of something “proven” or “safe.” At their core, trends are a search for safety and comfort in the known, which is why they are traps. When the majority is moving in a specific direction in any creative industry, it really means that a new direction is the only direction.
While it feels like a betrayal, I believe that it’s good to have your clients look at your competition on occasion, because if you are genuinely doing exceptional work, it validates they made the right choice by hiring you in the first place. The choice is yours: Either worry about what your clients might see your competition doing for others or focus on solving their individual Rubik’s Cube and be secure in the knowledge you are doing work for them that matters.
Bill has over 20 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products companies, always working collaboratively to achieve the “wow” desired by the target audience.
A Managing Partner at brandivate, a full-service marketing services and advertising agency, Bill is featured speaker at numerous national and international events, a serial creator of content marketing, and co-host of the industry-leading podcast, Promo UPFront. Bill has extensive experience defining brand strategy, creating successful marketing campaigns, creating and developing winning RFP responses, and presenting winning promotional products solutions to Fortune 500 clients.
A fierce advocate for the Promotional Products Industry, he is the Immediate Past President of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, has worked closely with senior leadership at Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) on many committees and work groups. In appreciation of his years of service to the promotional products industry, Bill was named as an inaugural PPAI Fellow—a program designed to recognize influential individuals who have actively supported the industry through personal involvement.
Bill lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of 26 years, Sandy, and their 17-year-old twin boys, Drew and Mitch.