Quote from GM CEO Demonstrating His Ability to Skate to Where the Puck is..

not where it’s going be.  I’m referring to a quote often attributed to Wayne Gretzky, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”  Depending on the version of the quote you see, it is demonstrating the difference between a good hockey player and a (the) great one.

The below is from GM‘s CEO Rick Wagoner in a recent issue of Fortune:

“Wagoner also likes to point out that GM decided not to market gas-saving hybrid vehicles until very recently because there wasn’t a significant market for them.

That didn’t stop Toyota  which started work on what became the hybrid Prius in 1993 and now has a stranglehold on the hybrid market.”

GM wasn’t doing it because there wasn’t a market.  There was apparently a need and Toyota created a market.  Think about that in any business. Just because someone isn’t buying a product or service right now, doesn’t mean they don’t need it.

What you expect from clients is what you will get – from 37Signals

I’ve been a fan of 37 Signals philosophies and products for a few years and we’re about to move some functions of our company over to Highrise, their CRM product.

Yesterday I wrote about how much I disagree with Michael Lasky‘s premise that creative firms need to protect their intellectual property presented for a competitive pitch. The premise was that you treat prospective clients like they are going to try and steal your ideas. Now, as luck would have it, Matt Linderman from 37 Signals makes it very clear. You will get what you expect from clients. If you expect them to steal, they will. If you expect them to not agree with you, they won’t. Matt comes at it from the perspective that if you’re not on the same page with clients, you’re going to lose.

Below is his complete post. You can read it on this page, or even better go check out 37Signals.

Work hard, respect your clients and get results. This will save a lot of money of legal fees trying to sue your clients;-)

What you expect from clients is what you will get

Matt Jul 30

“We get it. But our clients would never understand.” It’s a frequent rebuttal to our Getting Real philosophy.

Read between the lines and there’s a disturbing undercurrent to that message. It’s really saying, “I get it but these other people could never understand. They don’t have the wisdom and the understanding that I do.” It’s like the way some LA or NYC people sound when they talk down about the masses in the flyover states. It’s insulting.

The truth is folks can usually handle a lot more than these wizards think. Are their clients really imbeciles who couldn’t possibly understand why they’re foregoing a spec to build something real ASAP? I doubt it.

A lot of times people are just stuck in patterns. Process gets done a certain way because that’s the way it’s been done in the past. Sometimes the arteries of work get clogged up simply because no one stops it from happening. Inertia happens.

Set a new course
Instead of looking down at your clients, look for ways to convince, educate, and guide them. That’s part of your job.

Start off by agreeing on your common goal: to create the best final product possible. Agreeing on a common goal is an old Dale Carnegie technique that works well because it gets everyone to realize they’re on the same team and fighting for the same thing. You start getting “yes” immediately.

Then steer them in what you think is the best direction. Take the initiative. Set expectations. Explain why you want to do it a new way. Tell them how you think the project should go.

Will this approach lose you the job? If it does, maybe it’s a bad fit in the first place.

But you may be surprised by the results. This kind of effort shows you’re someone who genuinely cares about the final outcome. And a lot of clients would love to work with someone like that. They’d love for you to tell them there’s a better way. They’d love to know that you want to do more than just phone it in.

Don’t assume ignorance. People live up to the expectations placed upon them. If you assume intelligence and flexibility from your clients, you just might get it.”

I don’t even know where I start to disagree with Michael Lasky

Oh, yes I do, it’s the second sentence of his first answer.  I am talking about a Q& A with Michael Lasky, partner and chair of the Public Relations Law Group of the New York City-based law firm of Davis & Gilbert (www.dglaw.com), a firm specializing in meeting the legal needs of marketing communications companies (from the article).

The Q&A is in “The Firm Voice” a publication of the Council of PR Firms. The premise of the article is that PR firms should legally protect the content and creative they present in speculative pitches.  I disagree with that premise.  Below are just a few examples that I vehemently disagree with.

Article- According to the intro to the article, “The more public relations practitioners act as if their intellectual property is valuable, the greater value it will have — and the more PR firms will be valued for their marketing strategy and expertise.”

My thought – Value comes from results.  Appreciation comes from contribution, not from a perception of scarcity.

Article –“How can a public relations firm best protect its creative ideas and concepts in speculative pitches to potential clients?

There are two general ways. The first is to provide the potential client prior to the pitch with a non-disclosure agreement. This non-disclosure agreement should clearly state that the prospective client will not use or disclose the creative work and ideas of the pitching agency unless and until a mutually-agreeable form of compensation is worked out.”

My thought – This is akin to asking a potential to guarantee the amount of affection they will show before you agree to buy them dinner.  New business pitches are speculative. There is a risk. You need to balance the potential reward before determining if the pitch is worth the risk.

Please read the whole article.  I think the attitudes reflected in this article need to be read.  In fact, I hope that lots of agencies take this advice, it’ll make things a whole lot easier for Morgan/Dorado. Strike that. I don’t want other agencies to take this advice. This thinking sullies my profession. Revised thought. Read it. Learn from it and do good work. Drive fast. Take chances.

Client Zubican on AltSearchEngines/ReadWriteWeb

Zubican recently opened up their online business community and we’re starting to see some media traction.

On the surface this is a concept that people have trouble getting their head around.  An easy way to think of it, is as a Yelp for business, but seeded with a database that includes information on basically every company in the US.  Then customers and businesses can add to profiles based on their experience and connections.

AltSearchEngines, from ReadWriteWeb, got their head around the concept and have a great intro here. Check out the article, check out Zubican and let me know what you think.

Read what I wrote earlier about Zubican and read the comments.

Congratulations to Cuil

No, not on supplying superior search results, at least not yet. The congratulations is for getting the word out. They were everywhere today. Below is a screenshot of a Google news search for Cuil. Look in the upper right corner, 2,140 articles.

A friend is their VP of Corp. Comm, and he should be commended for doing his job. His job is to get the word out about the company. No question, he succeeded.

Some pundits are saying Cuil should have waited longer, that the technology isn’t ready, that results aren’t better than Google. Give them a little time. I’m looking forward to seeing what their traffic numbers were like today, and more importantly what they’re like in six months.

In 1998, when Google was in beta, they were doing 10,000 queries per day. In 1999 that rose to 500,000 queries per day. By the end of 2000, 100 million queries per day. These stats are from Google Milestones.

So, cut Cuil some slack. Give them a few years, and maybe instead of Googling someone, you’ll Cuil them.

Update – according to Saul Hansell – they had 50 million queries on day one. Holy schnikes!

Don’t fake it – It’s nowhere near as good

I love gadget sites like Engadget, Gizmodo and of course our own local Totally Cool Tech. The folks that write for these sites are serious about their technology. Do not try and put one over on them.  Check out the picture below, it’s from an article on Engadget about Powermat.  Looks OK until you read part of the article, below the image.

“That’s why we’re a little wary of new claims by Israel’s Powermat, Ltd. that it’s ready to go with tech that’ll turn “any surface” into a power source. Well, that, and the PR image they sent us has the iPod charging screen Photoshopped onto every device pictured, including a first-gen RAZR and an N95.”

Giving it up on the first date

You people have dirty minds!  I’m talking about new business pitches for PR firms or any other service related business.  This is by no means a new topic but one that popped up in two different venues for me today.  First it showed up in the “Young PR Pros” group on Yahoo and then again on PRNewser.

The discussion centers on whether this is a risk of a potential clients “stealing” ideas and not compensating the agency for them.  The answer is yes.  There is that risk.  My thought is that if someone wants to “steal” your ideas you don’t want to work with them anyway.  You also need to demonstrate your understanding of their issue/goals/objectives and demonstrate your ability to meet/exceed those goals. That requires going out on a limb.  Yes, you’re going to have some instances where people take your ideas and run with them, but more often than not, if you spend the time to create something of real value to a prospective customer, they’re going to want you to execute on it. The analogy used in a response to this question on the Young PR Pros list was  that someone who just takes a plan and tries to execute it will be like someone who chooses to be their own general contractor when building a house. Sure you have a list of things that need to be done, but can you do them? That’s why people hire agencies.

This is a place where this blog has come in very handy.  Many prospective clients of Morgan/Dorado read DontEatTheShrimp.  They see that we know what we’re talking about and how we execute.

We also tend to not participate in ‘bake-offs’ or large ‘calls for proposals’ that put us against many other firms. That tends to whittle down the  amount of time we spend of responding to requests so when we do want to respond we can create real creative that sets us apart.

So here’s a list of things to think about when deciding to spend time/money on creative for a pitch:

  1. Is this someone you really want to work with?
  2. Do they really want to work with you?
  3. Can you win?
  4. Can you execute better than anyone else if you do win?
  5. Do they understand what you bring to the table?
  6. Can you afford to lose?