The Long Talk
There’s a gap between B2B marketing organisations seeking something new, but ordinary, and those hoping to achieve something altogether different.
Birddog has been managing the inbound marketing of businesses for 20 years, so when the call comes through from someone saying, “We’re looking for a creative agency…” I have a practiced, “Oh really?” response that I like to think rests patronizingly between, ‘I’ll be the judge of that,’ and, ‘You wouldn’t know a creative agency if it bit you on the ass.’
The conversations are usually quite short:
“Yes, it is.”
“Good. I’m looking for a creative agency.”
“Ok, no, not really. We’re never going to change. Never have, never will. Thanks, Sorry. Bye.”
Those are the good calls.
The bad ones lead to lengthy other meetings. NDAs. The analysis of endless, mostly irrelevant research. The allocation of resource. The completion of pointless platitudes in worthless RFP documents. And on, and on. Any hope of creative expression is lost before it’s even started.
This failed and broken process has little to do with rebranding, improving brand awareness or developing content strategy. It usually culminates in a meeting with an Operations Director, a Financial Director and a Managing Director. Sometimes there’s even a Marketing Director in the room.
Those meetings are quite short too:
“I want to know about the operational impact.”
“I want to know about the financial impact.”
“I want to know about the business impact.”
“Eh… Does anyone want to know about the creative impact, brand impact, thought leadership impact or maybe, you know, customer impact…?”
[In unison] - “No.”
“You wouldn’t know a creative agency if it bit you on the ass.”
And the ‘opportunity’ ends shortly thereafter. For Birddog at least.
Businesses that seek continuity in their day-to-day operations inevitably seek continuity in their brand communications. Change and creativity do not represent continuity. They represent risk. The agency that provides ‘the same as usual’ is a more instinctive choice for a company seeking exactly that – ‘the same as usual’.
So the cycle continues. Conversations about nothing. Enormous amounts of time wasted on historical continuity – maintaining the past with no real view or desire to face the future. I used to think it was the ROI thing – ‘Prove it. Show me a successful social media campaign, etc.’ But irrespective of outcome or metrics, the primary ambition of the business is to achieve much the same as the business has always achieved. Predictable. More. Normal. Ordinary.
We could pretend to think that you’re right. We could pretend to be your friend. We could deliver more of the same and smile and everyone would presumably be happy.
Or we could sit on the fringe. Waiting for the opportunity to just give you shit for the decades of mediocrity you’ve inflicted on the rest of the business world.
Like I said, the conversations are usually short.
But we live for the long conversations. I’m happy to have that one when you’re ready.