This is for that potential client out there I’ve been exchanging e-mails with over the past few weeks.
Dear Potential Client,
I think the reason we have yet to work together is that you might not be sure what we can offer. We’re at our best when we are engaged in helping determine the marketing strategy – which, to us, is different from straight advertising.
I believe your team thinks of us as a potential marketing partner, but what they ask for is advertising. We see advertising as a sub-set of marketing. It’s the manifestation of ideas about who you are, what products you offer, and what value you create for your consumers.
To us, marketing is the discipline of developing what appeals to consumers based upon desires, needs and perceptions. It’s almost always a dead-heat competitive environment where everyone is selling the same product or service, and trying to differentiate those ‘me-too’ offerings based solely upon brand positioning.
On the other hand, the marketing process – a collaboration between the agency and the client – takes the best of what’s around, explores the possibility of what could be, and creates new options. In our experience, what separates the leaders from the followers in any competitive environment is innovation: new products, services, and better packaging, for example, based on better alignment with the core consumer’s needs.
In fact, I can’t think of any successful marketer in any segment that has built and maintained long-term growth without innovation, product development and real value-creating strategies.
That marketing function where the consumer knowledge is turned into the company’s brand is the primary goal of marketing. And if your agency, with their uniquely objective view of you, your services, and your customers aren’t represented in the strategic discussion about marketing, then you’re not really maximizing the possibilities. By excluding the agency from the discussion, all you might end up with is advertising based on the internal view: what you think your customers want based on how you see your business.
So, as your industry continues to suffer the indignity of no-growth and little consumer excitement, I repeat my mantra….with good marketing, there’s still opportunity for share shift, growth, and brand value – you just have to be willing to sit down and really question old assumptions and challenge yourself to come up with new ways to compete.
Our job is to be a catalyst for that discussion. To represent the external consumer view and use that as a perspective to generate informed, often challenging discussions. To find ways to break through the noise of the marketplace.
For the record, I remain convinced that you’re the best-positioned company in your segment to take the lead. That said, the offer to meet for coffee still stands.
Nate Winstanley founded Winstanley Partners in 1986 as a full-service marketing, advertising, design, and public relations agency. He’s a former communications manager for GE and a Peace Corps veteran; he brings his lunch to work every day in a metal Yellow Submarine lunchbox.