Let’s see, S is for … sunshine, sharing, softness, silliness, sex, sailing, Sagittarius, sales, saints, shitheads and Saltines. Those flow straight from my brain to the fingertips. No wisecracks please.
For all of us, S is ultimately about Success. How that’s defined may vary but I’ve found four S imperatives.
The 4 S’ For Biz Owners & Communicators
#1 Survive. Darwin was right in at least one respect. Survival is inherent during our struggles to maintain life, be it personally or professionally. I’ve seen agencies wiped off the planet since beginning my own firm in 2007. Good people and good work, gone. Cash flow means everything, say the agency owners I know. But they temper that with a spirit of generosity. They don’t hire and fire at will based on the balance sheet (like many do). They hire wisely. They stay fiscally conservative even when they land a “big fish.” They realize People matter, and act accordingly. They also use outsourced resources (um, like me). These translate into #2: Satisfaction.
#2 Satisfaction. Years ago, there was a high-flying agency growing faster than beanstalks in Jack’s world. It almost seemed supernatural. Then it imploded. Word on the street: an explosive, toxic and exhausting work environment. Tyranny. And clients who expected what was promised, which didn’t happen. It was all “churn and burn.” Satisfying the client is the best antidote for tough times. I’ve had bosses who preached and practiced giving “extras” to the client vs. the “nickel and dime” approach. Give. It always comes back. The same goes for employees. Treat them well, they will champion you. Treat them like dogs and they’ll bite in you in the butt. And you’ll deserve it.
#3 Keep it Simple. Sorry for the cliché. One successful agency principal recently shared this with finesse: “I had an employee who, in essence, worked slowly and systematically to build a five-star restaurant PR approach for a client. This client didn’t want a 5-star restaurant, the client wanted quick action and fast food.” Lessons learned: Don’t oversell and overthink (don’t knee-jerk either). Keep it simple and get it done. Also, always discuss expectations with the client before you start.
#4. SALES is everyone’s job. Throw out the typical agency model in which you “woo and wow a prospect with big ideas, promises and executives with big titles” then throw the junior team on the account. Selling is relational—and about discovering what a client really needs, not what you sell. Teach and help your entire organization to sell, not by being “Mr. or Mrs. Call Now!” but through conversation, inquiring questions and sincerity. Need help to get started? I recommend Debbie Mrazek. Incredible. Phenomenal. Practical.
When it’s about your business, it’s easy to look inward only. Survival and success is really outwardly focused, mostly on employees and clients. Both will either drive your business sky high or drill it into the dirt.
Stay strong, believe, affirm and aspire. And they’ll follow. Ah, sweet success.