Ah, a client meeting. My colleagues are all decked up, raring to win friends and influence people. As I look at them priming up for the pitch, I always, inevitably think up the way such conversation proceeds, with clients, and may their tribes increase, rarely, if ever, getting out of a kind of a loop.
“We have enough business” they say with all the haughtiness they can muster. “No, you don’t”, we want to scream, but politely point out that perhaps, there is room for more? We talk of innovative disruptions, about rank outsiders challenging the established order, about tectonic shifts … even as the client plays with the paperweight, bored and with a closed mind.
Our reputation is advertising enough, they say, explaining why they need not what they know not. We take the que, to tell them how fragile reputations are, how little it takes to shatter what has been built painstakingly, how a stitch in time, saves ninety-nine. Often telling them that reputation follows life – is born, attains maturity and then, inevitably begins to decay, unless you inject elixirs to rejuvenate…
Advertising is manipulation – immoral, even unethical. They continue with their desultory firing, seeking to strike a holier than thou posture. There is a fine line, we say, between manipulation and information. We help people make up their minds, create awareness, attract eyeballs, perhaps, even goad, we say, letting them make their own decisions.
Advertising trivialises issues they say next and we immediately counter with the medium and the message. We tell them about the audience and the ways of reaching out, the tone and tenor retaining the seriousness of the information that is sought to be conveyed
You can’t effectively target a local market. Oh yes, we can. This is the era of Big Data after all. It is no more about you telling just how great you are, but about conversations happening about you in the social space. And, if you want, we can be there, in real time, and help mould those conversations. The geography doesn’t matter no more.
We have a website. We know that. We also have a detailed report on where exactly it needs improvement and why. If you would so kindly take a look, we can help you attain its full potential. It’s your calling card on the Info-Bahn, you know, can’t afford to let it continue being dysfunctional.
Who has time for the technical hassles of e-commerce, they interject – part apologetically and part defiantly. And we tell them about outsourced dreams, about dinosaurs, about Darwin, offering to help whenever required, urging, insisting, just stopping sort of pleading.
What about PR? Yes, advertising and Public Relations have areas where they overlap. Yes, both are specialisations aimed at refurbishing the salience of your brand. And no, one doesn’t come free if you pay or the other. And yes, we can help you with your Corporate Communication efforts if you so desire, but we still feel that you should first get your advertising strategy in place.
We can’t afford it, especially in a market like this. The tough they say, gets going when the going gets tough, we say. As a matter of fact, it is in down markets that one should break campaigns – there will be less clutter to contend with and the lesser entities will wonder where you are getting the resources? Why you may even force competitors to follow suit?
You are too expensive. Ah, finally music to my ears. “Well, there are doctors and there are quacks. There are specialists and there are hanger-on’s. There are men and there are boys. You won’t trust your reputation in the hands of amateurs, will you? Besides, if it was only about going from point A to point B, you can take the auto, you know, why need a car, forget that machine that the rest of mankind drools at? The use and throw pen is just as much pen as a Mont Blanc is” I say, with pain bordering on incredulity writ large on my face…
This is the time when the fidgeting with the paperweight stops and the client’s face tightens. He is now ready for business.
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