Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Dave Chapman Blog Image August 2015 EDThe more things change the more (some) things should remain the same

Many of the conversations you hear or take part in about our industry are focused totally on change. Changes on the client side, the rise of procurement, the move to digital, the uptake of mobile, the impact of social. Changes on the agency side, the focus on project management, the growth of planning and digital strategy, the redefinition of account management.

You name it, we’ve discussed it. We’ve talked about change and, better yet, we’ve done something about it—transforming the agency across an untold number of parameters, with more surely to come.

And rightfully so. Change is the constant in our world. And if we don’t change with—or ahead of the current—we will be left behind. Even if we were the world’s best buggy whip manufacturers, we’d still wind up being the world’s best buggy whip manufacturers, only we’d be sitting in Google self-driving cars taking us to an ever-dwindling set of client meetings.

However, what I don’t hear—and I don’t think we talk about enough—are some of the things that haven’t changed and should never change. Like building positive, lasting, and trusting relationships with the client.

A couple of days ago, I was on the first floor when a gaggle of clients came into the building. Holding open the door for the conference room area was an Account person.

Each client literally stopped and hugged her and the level of excitement—seeing a trusted friend, colleague, and teammate—was wonderful to see. She had a visible, audible, and palpably positive relationship with her entire client team. I thought to myself, that’s one aspect of this business that has never changed and should never change.

That type of relationship opens the door to better results in every way. A connection is made on a human and personal level, not just a purely transactional exchange. Information flow and sharing is unhindered. Confidence that, should the need arise, gives room to explain why or how something unanticipated occurred. Inherent belief in a partnership focused on having all ships rise, that success is a common cause.

So here’s a short list of some things that shouldn’t change in a service industry, especially for an Agency, because their importance hasn’t diminished and will not in the future:

  • Create a positive, trusting relationship with the extended client team—not just the brand, but Medical Affairs, Sales, Regulatory, Admins, Security—the whole nine yards
  • Lead by example: do what you said you were going to do, and do it when you said you were going to do it
  • Provide solutions proactively, creatively, strategically, and efficiently

I’m interested in hearing what you think has always been part of being successful in this business and hasn’t—and shouldn’t ever—change.

Let me know some of your ideas. Perhaps we can compile our own manual.

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