Over the past couple of months I’ve experienced the apex of exhilaration and the profound disappointment from winning three pieces of substantial business. The exhilaration came because we pitched successfully; disappointment fell because, within a few days each ‘client’ had a shakeup at either the marketing or C-level, or during the cooling off period structured into our contracts, decided to take the guys that finished behind us.
Don’t get me wrong. The relationships are not fractured because in the case of two of these prospects, they operated outside of the United States and the runners-up were from their turf. Familiarity with the advertising restrictions and regulations of their respective countries was probably better for the clients.
I learned a long time ago to communicate with the rejecting party two things: 1) “We understand, and appreciated the opportunity.” And, 2) “If there is anything we can do to win your future business, let’s talk about that when the opportunity presents itself.”
Nonetheless, it stung to be rejected.
The worst part is that is it affected our level of staffing. People assumed that their use to the agency rested in our keeping the accounts, so they went over the hill. Almost every day I read in Agency Spy, or Ad Age about big agency that lose an account, and staff is reduced. In our case, if the bleeding continued there would have been problems. But, small agency owners are triage experts like medics in the military (not to trivialize our troops in harm’s way). We can patch things up and keep going. The younger digital and PR crowd don’t understand this and are apt to jump ship. (I know most Millennials will scream at that; but folks I’m only relating what I witnessed.)
It is encumbered on me to do better than expected. At all levels, this business is heavy with competition. We smaller players in the industry want to be relevant and be first in the mind of prospects. So what is there beyond relevance? Well, a small agency cannot just be good – it has to go beyond that.
Sometimes being good is falling short – the prize continues to elude you.
Catch you later,
Bernard Alexander McNealy