two marketing guys

A Real Transcript From Our Old Marketing Agency

[10 minutes of COVID-19 related small talk]
Steven: “How’s our marketing going? I haven’t heard form you guys in a few weeks. Did our unconventional strategies break you?”  
Agency: “You’re so funny, no you didn’t break us. Everything is going pretty well over here. We wanted to talk to you today about making a few changes and switching up approach to a few things like campaign conversions. Which is why I asked our CEO to join this call. Not sure if you’ve met Andrew.”
Steven: “No, I haven’t. Hello Andrew. Okay, so… I love change. But first, tell me about cause. What are you guys reacting or responding to? What is it that you feel isn’t working and what brings the CEO to our weekly call?”
Agency CEO Andrew: “Hey Steven. Nice to meet you, finally. I like to get involved in all our accounts from time to time and I have been spending some time with your team here to find ways to keep killing it where we are seeing awesome results and in addition, find a few new paths of momentum and see if you can’t change a few things up to get you even more results than you signed up for. Does that sound fair to you?”
Agency: “Thanks Andrew. But also, we’re not getting the conversions we think you should be getting from the people you have indicated that you want to connect to. And frankly, we’re usually more successful than we have been for you. Andrew is here to help us change that.”
Agency CEO Andrew: “Hey Steven, can I please put you on hold for just a sec?” (I was on hold for 58 seconds while I imagined CEO, Andrew, eviscerating my account manager and her coordinator for admitting something honest.)
Agency CEO Andrew: “Hey Steven, really sorry about that, we had to side chat over here to get me a little more up to speed so that I can be more involved in a few changes.

While we were talking, Melissa told me that you valued honesty and transparency over everything—even results.

The bottom line is that times are really tough right now for most and we too are experiencing that with your account. So, what that means to you is that we want to make some pretty significant changes for you to get you the output you’re expecting and paying for.”
Steven: “Okay, I understand. That’s marketing. It’s okay guys—there is no sense of desperation or urgency on this side. I hired you to help us narrowcast our unique viewpoint, not to capture new clients. And the thought of conversions sounds really icky to me.

Before we jump into your revised plans, echo back to me who you guys feel or believe we are trying to connect to. Then tell me about the results you are seeing. Good, bad and ugly.”
Agency:  “Right on, got it. Okay, you wrote in your brief that you wanted to connect to people in charge of Customer Experience for their companies—preferably senior leaders who make key decisions in spend. Right? Do we have that right?”
Steven: “Ummm. No. Not really even close at all. Do you have what I wrote in front of you about CX Pilots’ ideal client?“
Agency: “Huh, I’m sorry about that. Uh, yes, let me pull it up here really quick.” (18 seconds of silence.) 

Agency: “Okay here it is. We have it pulled up.”
Steven: “Cool. Can you read it so that I can hear what I told you?”
Agency: “Of course. You wrote, “CX Pilots’ ideal subscriber is an instable, wait, I guess that says insatiably curious mid-level manager who is dying to figure out how to understand the broader context of CX. She is most likely 12 to 18 months in the job and either came up through marketing or project management.

She is frustrated with all the bullshit out there about CX because it’s too theoretical and not grounded in any reality. She wants pragmatic ideas that will work in her organization. She doesn’t want to change the world—or even the company for that matter, she just wants steady, practical steps that she can execute on, measure and adapt.  

From CX Pilots, she wants pragmatic and reliable counsel and support for the right tasks and projects. She wants to ally with a firm like CX Pilots that has experience starting small and building on successes.

She wants to know the best way to execute and measure these tasks and along the way she wants to hear about how other similar companies are seeing success in ways she can benefit.

She doesn’t like the sound of a consultant but would rather team with an outside partner that feels more like a simple, accessible extension of her tiny team.”
Steven: “Yes, that all sounds familiar. Curious, did you all notice the surprising lack of the terms, ‘client’ ‘conversion’ ‘CEO’ and explicit exclusion of ‘decision-maker’ and ‘spend’ in my wording?

Again, this isn’t about onboarding new clients, it’s about finding more of those overworked people who value our unique way of communicating value in CX so that we can help them succeed—in many cases, months before they decide to become a client.

Value received, first; trust felt, second; and then if they feel like we can help, become a client third. In that order.” 
Agency CEO Andrew: “Hey Steven, it’s Andrew. Can I ask you a question that may help us out over here?  Why aren’t you trying to accelerate the onboarding of an ultimate decision maker? Frankly, that doesn’t make a bunch of sense to me. All of our clients want to persuade the CEO into a hiring them—not sure why you’ve explicitly asked to talk to a mid-level manager when they cannot make the decisions. Again, just checking in on that because it makes no sense over here on this side, to be honest.”
Steven: “Andrew, do you trust Melissa?“
Agency CEO Andrew: “Of course, or she wouldn’t be here?”
Steven: “Do you trust that she can make good decisions? And do you trust there are certain things she knows a lot more about your tradecraft than you as the CEO might know? And if she came to you and said, Andrew, I think we really need to do this initiative because of X, Y, and Z—would you really listen to her and take stock in her recommendation, or would you smile and disregard her?”
Agency CEO Andrew: “Of course I would trust her—but Steven what you probably don’t understand is that we are trying to talk to company CEOs that probably don’t trust their mid-level managers as much as I might trust Melissa. It’s a whole different world out there.”  
Steven: “Why the fuck would we want to try to connect to THEM? I don’t want to connect to anyone who doesn’t trust their people. In fact, that’s precisely who I don’t want to connect to. Andrew, what you probably don’t understand is that CX is sometimes a mid-level management concern and the people at that level, fighting the good fight, are EXACTLY who CX Pilots has built a business model around. Those are the people that know the most and typically need the most from a company like ours. We’re purpose built for them. Not the CEO.”
Agency: “Okay, okay. So, Steven.  This is very helpful. Wait (15 second pause) okay thank you Andrew.

Okay, sorry about that, Steven. Andrew just left the meeting. I think you broke our CEO!  So, we are going to make some changes and get back to you. Are you okay with that? 

So we are totally on the same page, you’re okay without stitching CTAs (CTA means call to action) to increase conversions for your blog, newsletter and social campaigns?” 
Steven: “Yes, I am. In fact, I think I will be sending out our next newsletter myself and you guys can pick it back up after that if we have a better plan. But I am pretty sure I want to publish this exact conversation transcript. I think it does the best job of illustrating exactly what we’re about.”
Agency: “Oh my God, you’re hilarious Steven. Of course, that wouldn’t be a good idea. We’d counsel you against that.

Wait, you aren’t serious, are you?”  
Steven: “Hey guys, sorry I have to jump on another call. Send me your recommended account changes by mid next week so I can absorb it before our next call on Thursday. And how about we redirect our energies to people who get what we’re trying to do over here at CX Pilots, shall we?  Thanks everyone. Have a great holiday weekend and thanks for listening. I appreciate it.“
* I have permission to record my conversations with my marketing agency.
** I received permission to post this transcript as long as I didn’t mention the agency or the people’s real names.
*** I ended this agency relationship over the weekend.
**** There are no calls to action in this newsletter. Thanks for reading.

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