This article was written as an open letter to marketing practitioners however, if you're reading this as a client, or just looking for tips on choosing an agency - you'll find this enlightening too.
Marketing, advertising, PR - whatever your poison - as a practitioner and professional, it's easy to devolve to the lowest common denominator - treating briefs and executing campaigns like commodities and transactions. Sometimes you nail it and the client is ecstatic. Other times you miss the mark and the lukewarm response breaks morale.
The road to redemption is deceiving. Why? As experts, we live and die by our reputation. An average campaign outcome is as good as failure. The reflex response is self-preservation and safety. Then, it seems more of us take less action because we're afraid it won't be right, and we don't want to look dumb, ineffectual or mainstream. An extension of this is we may end up working harder not to look foolish than we will to make gains for ourselves and our clients.
It's just human nature.
If we can acknowledge this and compensate for it, it become an opportunity and a turning point which can deliver us as experts from the mainstream. Too often we fall in love with our own brand, the products and services we've nurtured - instead of falling in love with our clients.
I believe as marketers we are as much about selling leadership as we are selling marketing tools. Our role is to lead, to stand for authority, as a consultative force in our field. It's not enough for us to just fall in love with our client, we need our teams, contractors and suppliers to do the same. It has to be a combined love affair.
We are not about promoting the sales of more apparel, drinks, automobiles or what have you. Re-frame your view and consider this. Our role is about interacting truthfully, and enhancing the personal lives of our clients. Corporations - big and small are amalgams of people with hopes, fears, dreams, desires and emotions who want desperately to feel good about their decisions and body of work. Just like you. Your job is to acknowledge and exhibit genuine connectivity with those people.
Combine this with clearly stating what you are going to do and why...show the client, don't just tell them and the door to deep trust will appear. If you were on the receiving end of this 'loving' approach that embraced your personal as well as career motivations, wouldn't you feel valued, secure and more protected.
It's a small distinction, but immensely powerful. Maybe I'm late to the game and everyone else gets this already. Maybe. But whatever it is, its a revelation that has altered my philosophy towards my work and reignited my passion.