Thursday, March 19, 2009

Advertising's Corporate Inferiority Complex

'Many agencies train their people to think, 'Whatever the client wants. Just make them happy.' We are trained professionals with considerable expertise, but when we're faced with even the hint of reservation, we roll over like dogs. We're in a service business and we service our clients out the ass. The amount of crap we have to do – (and we do!) - is outrageous.

Bankers, lawyers, accountants, consultants and advertising executives are all in the service business. Yet, only we in the advertising are held in such low regard by both the public and the client we service. Bankers, lawyers, accountants, and consultants are not called upon to perform the extra toady things we are. They're supposed to build a client's business; we're supposed to perform personal services. And we, as an industry, do.

We shouldn't, and have to try very hard not to. The best people don't bow and scrape. It's not that they are arrogant; they provide a service for you and don't feel compelled to put cookies on top.

If I have a vendor who is trying too hard, beyond the service he's supposed to be giving me, I wonder why.'

Taken from : Often Wrong, Never in Doubt - Donny Deutsch w Peter Knobler

As i read that few paragraphs, I realized that how stereotyped this industry has become, and how it doesn't have to be that way. I just need to fight it somehow. Working in an exhibition design company, things are no different. I, and the rest of the designers are regularly plastered by ridiculous requests from clients who, sometimes have no form of imagination, can think they are better at OUR jobs than we are.

How unprofessional of clients to demean our professionalism in such a way. I'm not saying all, but most. (Or maybe Malaysia functions that way and thats why in the international design arena, we're no more than a speck of dust.) Designers seem to be at the bottom on the food chain in the world of exhibition. Or maybe its just the executives succumbing to the 'Standard Operative' this industry has set itself. And we designers suffer from ridiculous and clashing deadlines. All because, execs want to kiss and lick clean the clients' arses.

While i hear execs 'client says cannot, it has to be....etc.' I think to myself 'what? if u're better than me in design, how come u're not here sitting in my chair? Instead of mere a messenger boy/girl for the client, your job is to negotiate whats good for the business. When i say business, i mean as a whole, not to protect your own ass. Clashing deadlines causes rushed work which equates to sloppy, half-arse results.

To many of that and morale goes downhill. The business suffers, cos employees won't give a fuck cos no one gives a fuck about them.

'I dont know, dont care, you figure it out and give me the designs by tomorrow...the client needs it' Familiar phrase?

If we are as good as we think, we must know how to draw the line. In terms of time, price, etc. Many execs fail to do so, their legs quiver when client pushes forward. What does that mean and why?

I'll read it as being weak, being able to be pushed around. If i was the client, i'd l say 'gosh they're easy to push, i wonder if their work is as weak too....' This situation only begs further abuse. Why? Because its allowed. Especially if they're afraid to lose the client. If you are firm, the client will respect you. Cos you've got the balls to say NO and will most probably produce some fine work.

If we're willing to discount time, are we willing to discount our price too?. And if discount our price, how valuable is our service if we're willing to discount its value? Think about it.

At some point, clients need to be controlled if they're being baboons. We are the pros in this game. Not the other way around. In business, there has to a balance, meeting in the middle. If its unbalanced, its time to walk. No point taking the abuse. This is Business 101.