Want To Make Progress With A Client? Know When To Chill.

Thomas Stringham of Hot Tamali in Vancouver, BC has some great advice for creative companies: Don’t overdue overdo it when looking for new business.
Here’s a clip from his Ad Age piece:

Creative agencies thrive on being intense. We are daring and outspoken by design. We are people who wear our hearts on our sleeves and we channel all of that energy in an effort to make a great product. To sum it up, we are passionate about what we do. Unfortunately, all of that passion goes from being a creative blessing to an albatross on your morale when mixed with “pitch adversity.”
There’s a natural propensity for creative people to let anxiety creep into the new-business process. Whether it’s conspiracy theories about who’s pitching, second-guessing the ideas that were put forward, or simply frustration surrounding the engagement process, agencies get strained when courting new clients.

While Strigham is focused here on prospecting for new business, his advice extends well past the win. Once you have a new client, the creative team’s flare for the dramatic and dedication to craft can, in many cases, bring client-agency tension to one’s door. That’s natural to a degree, but anyone who works in account service knows how tough it is to please the client and the creative team, every time.
I like Neal Kielar’s comment on the article. “Business development isn’t an ATM machine, a smiling and dialing exercise, nor a death warrant when you don’t happen to win.” The same can be said for the status of any one project. Because we deal so heavily in details, we can also dwell there, and that has the potential for toxicity. While we need to dwell in the details to do our jobs, we also need to rise above the daily details from time to time, so we can see the situation more clearly from an elevated perspective.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.