Does your client get in the way of good work?

I’ve recently become hooked on Mad Men.  I can’t believe I've never spent the time to watch it before and now I can't stop. I hang on every word Don Draper says – I love to hate him.

Look how cute I would be as a Mad Man character. I would totally wear hats to work. 
I had to pause it the other night (I was on a Mad Man bender and it was about 1am on a school night – don’t tell my mom). Don Draper told a client, “Most ad men believe that clients are the thing that gets in the way of good work” when that client was rejecting his pitch.

This interested me. Does the customer know best? Or do we (marketing people) know what’s best for the client? I actually believe both are correct. Here's why: The experts in our field find a way to compromise without feeling like creative has been stifled, and without the customer feeling like they didn't get what they wanted.

As you watch Mad Men episodes, notice just about every pitch ends up slightly changed in the end. Don makes the pitch – someone doesn't agree with the angle – then, Don or Peggy (I love Peggy) puts the slightest twist on the original idea, elevating the campaign to an even greater level. The customer pushes back and they all come together with the best ideas. THAT is what makes Mad Men great.

This is why marketing needs a seat at the table. To truly integrate creative ideas with sound business focus, both marketing and client need to speak a common language. If you’re in marketing – ask questions. If you don’t know what they are talking about, ASK! You can’t create promotional content if you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Speaking to the client: whether you are, an internal group, salesmen, engineers – whoever – take a moment to listen to your marketing team. Invite them to the conversation, and make sure they understand. If they fall asleep in your meeting, you don't have the right person. Someone from marketing needs to be a honorary member of your team to understand your goals and make suggestions for how to get there.

When you get to the creative and content planning stage, take time to open your mind and speak up when you think it could be “tweaked.” Don’t force your opinions on the marketing expert. Find a common ground. You can’t do what you've always done - it doesn't work forever. Be ready to make changes and try new things - yet hold on to the core values for your company and your product.

Dear Client: if this is what is happening, you're doing it wrong. 

The good thing about today’s Mad Men is that we can provide measurement. You don’t have to wait months to see if the sales team said, “I like that campaign”. You can see immediate engagement, who’s forwarding your emails, who is downloading your infographic, who is sharing your blog post, how many people are interested in your video interview.  Press for that engagement, ask for the numbers – they are there!

I believe my next post will be about how to set up your marketing conversation. I've been on good teams, I've been on bad teams, and I've been on amazing teams. Each one teaches you something new. I'm looking forward to showing you how to set up your own team for success.