Mike recently heard me speak and sent the nice note below.

David,

Hope the weeks since Atlanta have treated you well and you’ve expanded and deepened many relationships along the way!

I really enjoyed your book and the presentation. I’ve preached “relationships” to my teams over the years and have experienced many times the power of relationships on outcomes.

I’ve spent most of my career in the Service world and a large part running Advertising and Marketing agencies and consulting firms. I wanted to share my wisdom on relationships that is often lost on the industry and especially younger consultants and planners in the broader Creative driven agencies and consulting shops.

There was a day when in fact all it took was a great relationship to secure business and hold business. People literally granting business and keeping business with firms strictly on the entertainment value gained from the relationship. Slowly as various forms of pressure and accountability grew on the buyers and spenders there was more emphasis put on “the work” and the pure relationship arrangements faded. However even during this time there was an old adage that went …”given the choice between having great relationships and doing average work or doing great work and having average relationships you would always choose the former because more times than not those relationships would sustain the status quo when things got tense. It was during this phase that several misconceptions were born regarding the role and power of relationships. Firms and people actually believing that the relationships were just a superficial part of the overall value proposition.

Enter the last decade when there’s been an unprecedented shift to accountability of spend and a demand for return on dollars. A new ROI that makes the work, or results of the investment, carry an unprecedented load in terms of the rationale to hire or maintain a Service relationship. Some thought the value of relationships had gone away and just as many thought that the relationships were still important but that the value was measured distinctly separate from the work itself. The real wisdom today is that to secure and maintain great customer relationships in the Service Consulting world you need both and you need to be great at both. Equally adept and competent at relationship building and delivering superior thinking.

The reason for this is what most people miss. The very nature of the basis of most of these engagements is for Service Providers to challenge and move companies to behavior, campaigns, advertisements etc., outside of their comfort zone. Things they have not done before or things that if they had thought of them before they would not have needed to hire the firm in the first place. The real value or “professional high” in these Service firms is in convincing someone to believe in something they didn’t and try something they might not have before but is your creation. The success in that is more directly related to the Trust that they have in you than anything else. That trust is the direct by-product of the quality of the relationship(s) you’ve built inside that firm.

Said another way; Relationships are the basis for you to do and sell the kind of work you want to do rather than just work they ask you to do. Its the power that makes these engagements really work. When a company talks about a great experience and great work they got form a Service provider, something that really changed the game for them, it’s almost always the result of the ability of the Service Provider to persuade that firm to reach past their comfort zone and do what they recommend. In the Creative driven businesses those ideas and recommendations are what motivates and makes the job worthwhile for the creators. Your ability to get them to buy and use the kind of work you want to produce is directly related to the level of trust they have in you and that trust is directly related to the quality and dimension of the relationship you are willing to build.

David, again a real pleasure to meet you, and thanks for the signed book.

Regards,

Mike Zeman
President Carrot

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