Lou Imbriano suggested I talk about how things have changed at our family-owned agency, Clayman Advertising, over the years. I am extremely fortunate to represent the third generation of my family in this business. My grandfather started the company back in 1954, my grandmother worked as the bookkeeper for the first 24 years,, my dad started working at the company about 35 years ago, and my mother has been working there for about 20 years, and I just celebrated my 7th anniversary (seems kind of pidley compared to those numbers!).
Of course, as you might expect, an awful lot has changed in our company, even just in the time that I’ve been there. When I started as a media buyer in 2004, the marketing world was still a bit tentative about website advertising because of the dot-com crash at the beginning of the century. My work was primarily in dealing with print publications. Google and Yahoo were cooking things that we really didn’t have a full grasp of yet (although it was already becoming apparent these were going to be forces to be reckoned with). My knowledge of web 2.0 was livejournal.com, and there certainly were not any cells of my brain thinking that business would have a place in that world. Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist yet.
When I first started working for our company, email marketing was like the wild west. We thought it was reasonable to expect a 100% open rate.
When I first started, publications still had reader response cards or “bingo cards” so that companies could generate leads and justify their expenditures. Those were just starting to disappear. We sent news releases via the postal service, and included, stuffed in hand-labeled envelopes, an actual photograph that publications would use. That all seems pretty crazy now, but it was all less than 10 years ago.
Imagine how much things have changed over the last 50 years!
All of these changes were things we really couldn’t control. Like a surfer, agencies and other companies have had to ride technological changes and stay on top of them. That’s an ongoing battle that keeps getting harder as technology develops faster and faster.
But there’s one thing that has remained the same with our agency over all of these years, and it’s what makes me proud to be part of a family-owned business that bears my last name on the door. It’s something that I fear is getting lost in the upheaval of all of these technological innovations. That’s the human touch.
If you’re in marketing, you’re in the customer service business
This is something that has been engrained in me since I began working for our agency. Our clients are not just “clients.” They are our customers, and it is our honor and privilege to provide them with the best service possible. That is something I think a lot of marketers are starting to forget. Consultants, “experts,” and the like seem to be much more about the “I’ or “me” message these days, and that’s just not going to
work if you’re a marketer. Mark Schaefer reflected on this trend not long ago in a post about how Social Media is spelling the end for these kinds of personal relationships. Mark talks about how people used to go out golfing together or how people would go out fishing.Where are those relationship-builders now?
I reflected in his comments about a vendor who contacted us. They were local, so we invited them to come visit with us. They refused, saying that because they deal with so many clients long-distance, they’d prefer to work with us that way as well.
Talk about a big change.
Whether or not you’re in a family-owned business, whether or not you use Google Plus hang-outs or GoToMeeting to meet with your customers, the fact remains that marketing, and helping other companies market their products and services, is still a people business. You need to know what your customers like and what they don’t. You need to know how to translate the tonality of email messages, which can be hard sometimes. You need to know what your customer’s customers are saying, which can be learned by meeting with your customer and taking the time to listen, face-to-face.
At our agency, we still prefer to meet with our clients whenever we can at their office, face-to-face. We still believe that it’s important for us to hear, without technology in the middle, how things are going, what challenges they are facing. It’s not just that doing these things helps us do our jobs better (which it does), but it’s because we really care about our clients – our customers. We want them to succeed.
A lot of marketers who work predominantly in the online world say that they expect their relationships to be “do 1 job and then you’re done.” It doesn’t have to be that way. Many of our relationships extend over 30 years. But you have to have the right framework to create relationships like that. You have to be…dare I say it…a little old-fashioned while you’re keeping on top of every new technological advance. Whether it’s typewriters to computers or Facebook to Google Plus, our attitudes about our clients have remained the same.
While so many other things are changing, I think it’s kind of nice to have that part remain the same.