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Classics: How to Select an Agency in Today’s World with Scott Lucas, Sterling Brands: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Nov 07, 2023

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking how to select an agency with Scott Lucas. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts: Classics: How to Select an Agency in Today’s World with Scott Lucas, Sterling Brands

You need to know exactly what to look for when choosing the right agency for you and your business. With the ever-changing agency environment comes different expectations. Join us as we welcome friend and special guest, Scott Lucas from Sterling Brands. This episode covers everything from agencies to Starbucks. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you select an agency in today’s world?
  • What makes the best client for an agency?
  • How do you reduce the back-and-forth with your agency?
  • What should you do when things don’t work out because it’s not a great fit?
  • How much should the agency focus on problem-solving?
  • What good experiences can come from the client-agency dynamic?
  • How diversified should the agency’s client list be?
  • What’s the best agency model?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

  • Classics: How to Select an Agency in Today’s World with Scott Lucas, Sterling Brands
    • [0:00] Welcome to Marketing Smarts
    • [0:30] Anne Candido, April Martini
    • [0:37] How do you select an agency in today’s world?
    • [0:42] Learn more about Scott on LinkedIn and at
    • [4:24] The agency should focus on problem-solving, not process-solving
    • [9:32] Procter & Gamble (P&G)
    • [10:32] How do you reduce the back-and-forth with your agency?
    • [16:33] Revenue
    • [17:28] The agency’s client list isn’t homogenous, it’s diversified
    • [19:01] COVID-19
    • [30:08] The one-trick-pony agency model has been replaced by the jack-of-all-trades agency model
    • [32:27] PR (Public Relations)
    • [40:07] Good agencies know relationships are the name of the game
    • [44:16] Podcast
    • [45:08] Starbucks
    • [50:25] Performance Evaluation
    • [54:07] Recap: How do you select an agency in today’s world?
    • [56:48] Do you want to stand out in your industry and get more sales? Show you’re different to attract and retain top talent? Build a brand that drives real business results? Grab your Brand Strategy Workbook at:
    • “In the Trenches”
    • [57:38] What makes the best client for an agency?
    • [1:02:52] Tide, NFL (National Football League), Olympics
    • [1:03:38] CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods)
    • [1:06:46] What is your advice when things don’t work out because it’s not a great fit?
    • [1:09:46] AOR (Agency of Record)
    • [1:14:50] What good experiences have you had with the client-agency dynamic?
    • [1:22:07] RFP (Request for Proposal)
    • Marketing Smarts Moments

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you miss anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it.

April Martini 0:29
Welcome to Marketing Smarts. I am Anne Candido and I am April Martini, and today is another Marketing Smarts Classics how to select an agency in today’s world with my good friend and former coworker, Scott Lucas, who’s the Managing Director at Sterling. In this episode, we have a rich discussion about both the evolution of agency life, but also what it takes to succeed on both the client and agency front and these often tenuous relationships. Also how the world of agencies selection and partnership continues to change. We dive into the necessity for open and honest dialogue where true partnerships are born in the very best work results. And what happens also on the other side when things don’t go so well. Whether you’re listening to this one for the first time or the second, there’s plenty to learn and put into practice around how to select an agency in today’s world. So with that, let’s get into the episode as a current head of sterling Cincinnati and having grown up quite literally with a dad that ran his own New York agency, he can give far more insight into this conversation than I can welcome Scott, tell everybody who you are.

Scott Lucas 1:29
Thank you very much for having me, April. And I’m happy to be here. My name is Scott Lucas, and I am the managing director of Sterling Cincinnati, which many of the gang around town know as the former Interbrand since that if you’ve been around long enough, who used to be Hewlett filled since? Gosh, I foresee Here we go. Yeah, right. Well, but that’s all part of this change, right? Like agencies are changing, and their names are changing, and their owners are changing, and their people are changing. And they have now we’re appealing in a very different way. Yeah. So but yes, I grew up in the industry. And before I had a job, as an only child, this agency life was dinner table conversation. And I often feel at times, like I was raised as an account guy, taught to solve problems in school and on the schoolyard as an account guy. Because it just felt like that’s what my dad knew. And that’s what he shared around the dinner table. But then I then I went to work there. humble beginnings picking up airline tickets.

Anne Candido 2:28
When they were still kind of go to the file folder and pull out your whole package.

Scott Lucas 2:32
Yeah, I had to go like to the travel agency. And like, if it was a rush, I gotta take a cab, otherwise, it was a subway. Giving you the real experience. Exactly. Because, you know, I’m a certain age and we get paper tickets. Right. And then I you know, then I graduated mailroom stuff. And then I had to answer the phones. And they kind of worked me through the, through the system, but kind of then got into get my first few accounts and kind of grew up on the account side. And I feel like I’ve had very much the same job from my first account management job just all changes size, it’s the same thing, the pace and the size changes. I did do a couple tours of duty in business development, or new business or sales or whatever. That’s where we’re trying to re label ourselves. Yes, that’s where we met. And I think that’ll be helpful for today’s conversation kind of really drawn those probably those stories a little bit more. But if if you think that one job is exclusive of the other, you’re absolutely wrong. Because it’s all relationships. And new business is short term friends, like Brad Pitt told us about on the airplane and Fight Club. Reference. Thank you. Thank you. And client service account manager I call it is about long term relationships, long term business partners. And when it’s really golden, long term friends, right. And I’ve had I’ve had clients become friends that are no longer clients, but are still friends. And like, there’s a part of me that’s pretty excited about that. There’s a part of me that looks at our monthly forecast is like him. I want them to be clients again.

Therefore, business versus personal

role. Exactly. Yeah,

exactly. All right. So with that, and that awesome setup, we’ll get right into how to select an agency in today’s world. Number one, the agency should focus on problem solving, not process following. And I’m sure that for those of you that know me, well, you’re like, wait a minute, April is saying no to process. Well, that’s not exactly what I’m saying here. But my point here is that there were years in my career, and I’m sure Scott will have some things to say about this where the agency was really the king and therefore they felt like they were the ones that could really instill their process and I can’t tell you how many meetings we went into and just put the hammer down and we’re like, we know better than you. We know the best. This is our process, take it or leave it. This is what you’re dealing with. And I honestly and truly believe this was the downfall of a lot of agencies that stuck to their ego and really thought that this was going to be the way of the future, and now looks back or is gone, quite frankly, yeah, thinking, Okay, well, that maybe that wasn’t such a good way to look at things. And I think the ones that are really successful are the ones that lean more into this problem solving. And so to the point made in the intro around, okay, there’s, you know, an agency that may focus specifically on websites alone, that’s not what we’re talking about here. The agencies that have stayed afloat, are the ones that really can think big picture about every business they’re on, but also what might be coming in the future and what they need to stay up with. And so we talk a lot about working in and on your business at the same time, and how hard that is. This is exactly what we’re talking about here. It’s like, okay, we’re satisfying these clients, we’re doing what they need us to do, but with an eye to what might be coming, what types of new clients what their needs might turn into, and how overall the landscape of consumerism is going to change. So that we can stay up to date with trends and things that are coming down the pike in a much better way than some of our competition, quite frankly, so that we can be relevant.

Yeah, I think there’s, there’s an interesting kind of lifecycle here as well. So and kind of, before, we all talked about process, and we thought process was the way to both win and do the business. There was magic, right. And, you know, agencies used to do something our clients couldn’t do. And they didn’t know how to do it. They didn’t have the talent. Only agencies had designers, only agencies had Max only agencies had illustrator only agencies had art departments, production houses, whatever, whatever part of the industry you’re in, then as the in house creative team, the in house agency, the democratization of design and design, software and application kind of rolled out, the agencies had to lean into the process, like, okay, you’ve got somebody and Okay, you’ve got a couple computers. And okay, you’ve got now ahead of design and you’ve got, so you’ve got some of the same tools? Well, if you don’t believe in our magic anymore, because you bought it. Now you have to leave it on a process. And we do it all day, you don’t do it all day, we do it all day, it’s all we do. So we all leaned into process as our way to keep the business. And our process is different than the other guys process. And the team down the street process is different from that was really kind of how we thought we could win business. Reality was we all had the same stuff. Yeah, we all have the same process. We all had the same pictures in our portfolio, the same dots on a map right. Now, I think where we are is very much what we talked about is that it’s, it’s more open, right? And it’s more about, okay, we all have some magic, we all have some process, we all have some talent, and we all have some tools. Let’s do it together. You get to know our business, and we’ll get to know yours. Yeah, like when we have a client that understands our business, weirdly, how we make our money, they’re a better client, because they understand kind of where we’re where the friction points are. And if we understand their business, and how they’re trying to market and sell and grow and promote, we do better to write so it’s not about mine’s different than yours, or I have something you don’t it’s about kind of we’re all in it in it together.

Yeah, we often talk about the fact that, you know, we are the ones that bring kind of that, and I think I’m even pre empting a different point here, but I’m gonna say it anyway. We’re the ones that know more about different types of business versus our clients being the experts in their business. And so I think the problem solving piece of this point is really about what you just said, it’s really getting in and learning what they do and respecting what they do. But then them respecting us back to say, Okay, I understand what you’re bringing to the table, because I think for a while what did really happen there was there was so much contention, right, because the clients had things that we had. And we were like, You’re nowhere near as good as we are right. And there was like kind of that like natural tension tendency for egos to really flare. But that unsure footing, which I think is really the important point of what you brought up. It’s like things have to evolve, the way they evolve sometimes is messy. And so we’re looking for the next thing to kind of solve that path for us.

Yeah. And messy used to be such a bad word. Messy was you didn’t know what you’re doing, or you’re inefficient, or you’re wasting time or you never, you don’t have any good ideas. Yeah, messy is great, because messy means we’re kind of we’re kind of all in it together. Yep. In a lot of ways, I was

Anne Candido 9:23
gonna give some perspective from the client. So a little bit of balancing the toy room. I know. But you know, I love what you said, because that was always the approach I always wanted to take with my agency, which is the more collaborative effort with regards to bringing the collective creativity, the collective expertise to the table. It never seems to work that way in execution, though. Yeah. So my question is, is like how or what what advice would you have for people who are still struggling with that because I can say, I’m only I’m three years out of P&G, but I’m guaranteeing you it’s not any different Then when I left, which is still the expectation of you briefed the agency, you give them everything that you could possibly give the agency comes back with work, use, like, just basically throw up all over the work, because it’s not what you expected to see. You send them back again, they come back again, you’re like, still not what I want. And then after five iterations, they basically just get you give you what you like, wanted at the initial, but you never were going to be that prescriptive, because you want the agency to be, quote, unquote, creative. So you suggestions for how to get through that dynamic of that back and forth that can break through all of that noise. messiness. Yeah.

Scott Lucas 10:33
Well, yeah, there’s definitely bad messy, right? Because there’s, there’s good messy that, you know, it’s the it’s the pile of ideas. And there’s that one glimmering idea, right? Oh, that pile, that messy pile is great, because at the top of that, is what we’re all looking for. The other one is like, I have gone through this messy pile over and over again, and you’re not getting me what I need. And that’s, that’s bad, messy. There’s a part of that, that journey, that process that I think has to be there, because it’s, it’s, it’s why we’re in this dance together. Right. It’s why client and agency are working together. Because they have clients have outsourced the need for ideas or a solution or even an execution. That’s what it feels like. Yeah, yeah. And that’s the transaction right at the this is a business transaction like this great if clients become friends, and we all go out for pizza, beer, but there’s a there’s a business transaction that that is underlying all of this, right. And those, those rounds of briefings and work that hopefully the funnel narrows as opposed to continues to get wider. That’s the basis kind of of the transaction of the engagement. The frustration comes when much like in any relationship, you don’t feel like you’re being listened to. Right. Or, on the other end, I don’t feel like you’re explaining it to me in a way that I’m able to understand it. That that round and round must be there in my mind, because it’s what we do agency and client, the way that that round and round is structured and the tools we use to move it forward and get off of the merry go round, I think is the big difference in both the relationship and the work. And if you have to say the same thing twice. You’re not saying it right, or we’re not understanding it, right. And it’s really a communications and relationship challenge. It’s not, that’s a problem of the brief, not of the work. Now, I’m not saying you wrote a bad brief client, we might not understand the brief as the agency, the brief might be spot on. And we don’t understand it. So I think what really helps is having clients and agencies in those dialogues that have the ability to see the flags, and raise those flags and say, This feels like feedback we’ve heard before. So there’s something here, like, you shouldn’t have to say the same thing twice, because we shouldn’t have to retread the same idea more than once. If it doesn’t hit the objectives. It doesn’t reach the brief it doesn’t test well, if my God we’re already that far down. We need to to work on it better. And if and if we are saying of these options, nothing here works. Well, our kind of consideration set of options is off. And we need to come back with a different set. But we need to say what is that set? The the scariest thing for us is I’ll know it when I see it.

Anne Candido 13:32
Oh, go get a rock. Oh, no, not that rock.

Scott Lucas 13:37
And all of this boils down to how do we avoid? I know what when I’ll say it, right. And and because that is I don’t really know what I want. I don’t really know what you want. And we’re just going to spin the wheel and just hope it lands there. And that’s that’s there isn’t that’s no way to have a relationship. Agency client. It’s no way for you to spend your money. It’s no way for us to ever make any money. And we sure won’t win, in the end at the shelf or in the marketplace.

Well, and I think you said a few things that are really important and really go to this point about being problem solvers. One is being brave enough to speak up when those things are happening, right. Yeah, we’ve talked on the show a lot about Midwestern nice, but even if you’re not in the Midwest, it’s like you don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or you don’t want to be too harsh or you don’t want to say I hate it when really sometimes if you just said that on either side, that would be the thing to do. But also with that, I think it’s asking the right questions about why we’re doing what we’re doing in a lot of cases, because I think sometimes, especially when you have more of those transactional type relationships, or you’ve done this dance a million times or whatever, sometimes you get the brief and it’s like, okay, we’ve done this before. We know how to do this. We’re going to deliver this, this and this and then you just go Yeah, instead of taking a look to say a timeout I’m not really sure why this is what you’re asking for client or or clients saying timeout agency, I don’t know why this is what you got to I must not have explained this. Well, I think you just keep going with those iterations, thinking that something is gonna solve it when it’s just digging a bigger hole. And then everyone forgets what we were doing in the first place.

Yeah. And you there has to be a sense of you can’t be too proud in it. Yeah. Right. Because we’ve had a, we’ve had situations we’re on both sides where this isn’t what I asked for. But I can’t tell them that because I might have asked for the wrong thing. And it makes me look like a bad client, or, like, you know, you make the presentation, I will get you feedback tomorrow. And so you can carry a column for your feedback session, you’re so excited to hear how happy they were in there. Like that’s completely wrong. And you know, you’re just like, oh, I don’t want to upset you, client. I’m just gonna say, yeah, that’s all our fault. We’re gonna redo it for you, we’ll do a whole nother round, because I just don’t want to like, admit we’re wrong, or I didn’t understand it, or I strategies, or I didn’t have a strategist, they did it myself last night, like whatever it is, right? You don’t like the whole idea of like, it’s okay to be wrong, right? This is this is such an inexact science. And it’s right. It’s very messy and messy is okay. So you have to be brave enough to say, this isn’t what I wanted. There’s something wrong here. Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s uh, maybe we were just all off. But let’s try to figure out what it is. And that’s hard to do. Because you don’t work. Just everybody’s trying to hang on to the clients to the business to the revenue, that anytime that you want to stand up and rock the boat, it’s hard to do. But you have to do it if if you want to have a healthy business. And if you want to have good work, which will get you more about the business.

And I think long term too. It’s going to keep that client going. Yeah, instead of just getting that project, like you said, being afraid to hold on. But the last thing you want is to come out and be like, well, we’re not going to continue that relationship.

Yeah, those those those tough conversations with clients around work around process around budget. They’re rough. And we dread them, especially those of us on the side of business that just kind of make everybody happy. That’s me, that’s my whole ethos. But they pay off in the end, right? And they’re happier in the end. And it’s like, alright, like, we’re all going to be unhappy today. But it’s going to pale in comparison to unhappy we’d be at the end if we let this thing completely go south.

All right, point number two, the agencies client lists are diversified versus homogenous. Okay, so I think this is another pivotal point. And I’ll be interested to hear your comments on this to Scott about how the industry goes back and forth a little bit where this is concerned. So I think for a long time, there’s a whole period of time and I lived through a lot of it were having experience in a particular business, and literally to the point of like my competitor down the street, was actually a really good thing. And what it led to for the Agency for a while was really easy business, right? It was like, Okay, I worked on that furniture store. And then this one came knocking, and then this one came knocking and all of a sudden, we do like four back to back furniture stores. And then it was like, oh, okay, now we have convenience stores tied to gas stations. Okay, we got this one. And then we got this one. And nobody seemed to care as long as you weren’t working on them at the same time. And they looked at it as a gain if you’d worked on their competition, because one, they thought they were going to get some insight into what you learned from them. But also, it was like, Okay, we’re probably going to get there faster, cheaper, easier, because they know my business, they speak my language. And I think what we’ve changed to today is it’s better to have more experience across different businesses than so much concentrated in one, especially given how much our world has changed. And that’s everything from digital to curveballs, like COVID, to all the things that are have gone on and continue to go on, as well as that old agency model kind of dying away of just give us the cheque and we’ll give you all the work. And so now you’re having to work harder for the dollars, but you’re also having to be a whole lot smarter at the same time. And so I’ll give this one anecdote that a client gave me and it has stuck in my head. It was like three years ago. And this guy was really happy at the end of the partnership. And I was like, okay, Chris, what do you think worked really well. And he was like, honestly, he’s like, you know, I know. And he made this reference with his hands of like, vertically speaking, he knows this depth about his business, but horizontally, he’s really tight just within that business. And he’s like what you bring to the table as we tell you what’s going on, and you pull from all these other projects, businesses, industries, examples, things that you’ve worked with, and we get that insight, but our brains don’t work that way. And so you’re putting the puzzle together at a much more macro level, and it complements our micro view on our business. But then we can quickly playback and vet what we think might work or not based on the depth and I think when you get To that, and you have that experience of a diversified set of clients, all those sorts of things, you provide a much better service insight output all those types of things to the clients, because you just think a totally different way. Yeah,

yeah, absolutely. And I’ve got, I’ve got a couple of responses here. So feel free to edit whichever ones you want. Right, so I’ll give you, I’ll give you a couple options, I’ll try to hit a break in the middle. On that last point about what your client said about kind of being vertically deep and not very horizontally broad. One of the things that I’ve said a lot is, what works really well between agency and client is clients have such kind of expertise, in the product, in the category in the channel with the buyer with the distribution channel with the shopper, maybe the secondary user with the competition, right? With the history of the category, all that sort of stuff, agencies come to the table with experience, right, just like you said, as broad as it can be like, Hey, we have not worked in this category. But I’ve worked with that shopper, maybe I haven’t worked in your category, but I know that channel and why people shop club versus whatever, right. And I understand this is a move to become an online purchase. And maybe it’s more of a subscription based purchase. And it needs to be this. But I’m not in your category. Right. So there’s a lot of great reasons. You can have broad experience and match it with deep expertise. It kind of works. It works really well. The other part back to just credentials is yeah, it was great, right? You you’d be the agency that was great, a food great agency that was great at booze, or cigarettes or furniture. And that was really easy to do the work. You knew the category you knew where to do the photo shoot, you knew who the right people were. And it was very easy to help move your clients business just a little bit forward. Yep. And you’re right. They loved it. Because like, hey, maybe like you worked on the other guy. No, tell me what they were doing. They loved it until they left, and then they didn’t want you to work with anybody else. Yep. Right. So that was always a challenge, too is how much can we disclose? How much do we actually work on designing we promote? And how many of these brands can we actually, like take on before it becomes uncomfortable for us? Yes, because it’s great. I had a run in my career before I moved to Cincinnati, where I worked on several diabetes brands in a row. Yeah, it was really it was an interesting for big global health care companies. We worked on 123 back to back. And that expertise in the category that an understanding of the disease, state of the of the key opinion leaders that are somewhere between patient and doctor and endocrinologist and understanding the healthcare marketplace. And the difference between somebody who gets their health care through their employer pays cash at Walmart, right? That was invaluable to those three pieces of business. And it was great to work on them. But at the end, we had a sense of we can’t do this anymore, because these ideas that well is running out. And we don’t we want to make sure that we can put solutions out there that work for our clients that move their business forward, and feel differentiated from everybody else. And we said, okay, that’s That’s it, what’s the last one we’re gonna work on? Nobody ever came calling

is gonna be because you turn it down. And we’ll say that

conversation for later. But but, you know, we didn’t have to say that we didn’t have to get to that point. There wasn’t a fourth global diabetes brand that came knocking. But that was really, it helped us do that work. And I think it helped us do the work better, because we truly understood all those interesting factors. You don’t want to be your dentists first patient. Right. Like, and there’s a reason? Yeah, that’s right. There’s a reason that doctors are like residents and interns and all those things before the becoming end. Brands are so valuable. And these projects now have such an impact. Because it’s instant, right? And change is happening so fast that clients are looking for somebody that they can trust. And if you haven’t worked in their space, have you solved their problem? And if you haven’t worked in their space, and you haven’t solved their problem, do you understand what they’re trying to do or who they’re trying to appeal or how they’re trying to market? Right. And it’s, it’s that comfort and confidence, right? They’re looking for comfort in you as an agency as a team as people, but confidence that you can actually solve the problem. Right? And yeah, confidence was like we worked in every furniture brand. So sure, like, we know that category, and you can be comfortable with us because we understand it. But is that where’s the project? Where’s the client? That the wells dry? Yeah. Right. And how do you stay fresh and with change happening so fast? That’s that’s important.

Anne Candido 24:54
Yeah, I think what you mentioned with regards to it’s about solving the problem is such a key factor here. And it goes back to the first point is that when when you see a diversified called the logo, Farmer client list or whatever you want to call it, he had said to me that indicates whoever is in this agency knows their stuff, right? Because branding and marketing is a philosophy. It is not a process. It’s a way that you solve problems, right? So when you have a depressive Eilis, it’s like, oh, that person knows how to solve a bunch of different problems across a bunch of different industries, which must mean, they have a nice, fine tuned philosophy for for branding and marketing. Right. So I think that’s a really huge asset. And I think that really helps with that diversify the diversification of thinking, especially now where, like you said, like, you just get over the check. Well, the check used to be, I want five commercials. Yeah. Right. And now that I want a digital program, I want social to go with it. I want you know, I still want a TV spot. But then I want earn media and I want paint and I want all of this stuff together. There’s not one industry that does that. That’s isolated from like, okay, that’s the model, like everybody should do it just like that, that the diversity of thought. And the diversity of experience comes from understanding how different industries are doing that, and being able to pull from those where you’re like, oh, you know what, this could use a little bit of a beauty kick and beauty, we do it like this, it might be a totally unrelated category, but it adds something to it. And that’s what I think is the beauty of being able to work on different clients and being able to see that but I still think a lot of clients approach it. First of all, like I see it all the time through inquiries a week. It’s like, well, have you worked on our industry, I’m like, I don’t need to work in your industry. I’m like, you tell me how your industry operates. I’ll tell you how branding and marketing is gonna solve the problems that you’re facing. So I think it’s a very interesting point that you brought up. Yeah.

Scott Lucas 26:51
And that used to be an opening question. Yeah. Have you worked in the space? And there are some categories that are that still have that as a bit of a hangover, beauty cosmetics spirits? There’s a few years one Healthcare’s one, two, right. And sometimes it’s because of the image based nature of the category a lot of fragrance customer experience, but a lot of times it’s regulated categories. Right. Right. Yeah. And then, you know, once that became a thing, healthcare agencies, agencies have specialized in each regulated category popped up, because hey, we’re now experts in, in the regulations that you struggle with, and we know how to market within and around and around them, you know, and that, that that logo farm that logo quilt those slides, you know, we at the agency want you to get confidence and trust, right? If they trusted us, you should do, right, like there’s that there. And you’re looking at that, from a point of view says, okay, they’ve solved a lot of great problems and a lot of different categories for a lot of different companies. That’s awesome to hear. But we also want you to say, Oh, those guys did well, yeah, sure. Well, then they gotta be good, right? Like, you know what I mean, like, so if the, you know, if the reviewer likes the food, I should go in there, I should like it too, right kind of thing? Well, it’s also,

Anne Candido 28:04
it gives you some scope of what they’re able to do within the flexibility of budget, too. So I was just looking at, you know, we’re looking to kind of grow our bench and I was looking at somebody’s client list, I was like, Oh, well, she can solve problems. For small businesses, she can small problems for medium sized for large businesses. So I know she had solutions that fit all those budgets, which is what we need when we because we have a range of clients that have a range of different needs. So I also think if you’re strategic about what you put on there, it shows that element of it too. So not only can you produce quality work, you produce quality work for all size businesses, which is super important, especially for those small and mid sized businesses always feel like they can only afford, you know, the C level agencies or the D level freelancers. And, you know, and they feel like that’s where all the baggage conversations come from. Right. So I think your point is well taken. Yeah, yeah, I

Scott Lucas 28:58
spent so many hours on logo farms. I can’t even tell you Oh, yeah, orchestrating which ones in which placement? And do we put in the industry? And do we not? And yeah, it’s good that they work

Anne Candido 29:07
the pilot strategic, I think so

Scott Lucas 29:09
it’s how we put any and I’ve said, Every agency has that logo farm page. And, and we always often get, like, how we got to do this, and we’re, we’ve spent a half an hour like moving them around time which one, but it’s really important. And you know, and and you just, you just kind of validated that for us. Right? And it’s those new business moments, those first time to the client, the first time a new client sees that, that farm, you know, it’s like inviting somebody to a party, and you want to have all of your guests at that party, impress them. Well, I want you to be impressed by these like old world established friends I have and I want you to be impressed by these upstart hipster friends I have. Exactly. I want you to be impressed by the friends that know me super well. And if you ask me, like Who here knows you the best thing I can ask about you. I’ll point to them real quick, but I need them to be at the party. And if they’re not on the quilt, they’re not the party, right? So it’s how do i orchestrate that moment? which is just one of many moments we orchestrate and we cast and we produce in those in those conversations. Yeah. All right. Number

three, the one trick pony agency model has been replaced by the jack of all trades agency model. So first of all, I will start here and make fun of us at the table that our agency folks around the point that we were notorious for always saying that we could do it all,

no matter what we use will always say we, I differ

Anne Candido 30:28
from this comment because I was on the other side. We don’t promise we could do it.

Scott Lucas 30:34
No, no, I’m saying the agency promises. Okay. Yes, that is true. Yeah. So we’ll come to the table. And you’ll say you need I don’t know. Like I remember PR was always a big one. Because it wasn’t like we were it was always an adjacent. It was never like an got out in five minutes. And so it would be like, oh, yeah, we do PR. Oh, really? You have it in house? Well, we have a partner that Oh, really well, which partner because we’re pretty familiar with? Well, we’ll get back to

you orders and different categories, specialties and different sizes, and really depends on their capacity to take on this project. Right. Now. We can get back to you. That’ll be

Anne Candido 31:03
Yeah, you only said that once or twice.

Scott Lucas 31:11
So the point of this is, yes, we all do the song and dance. And we will to your point, Scott, we will never probably stop doing that. But I think and you made the point before around. What is the ask now? And how is it so very different? And I do I agree. It was like it was just it was much simpler, right? It was like, if we’re going to be your AOR for TV, like you said, then really our calendar was made, right? Well, how many spots are we doing this year? What’s the budget? How many concepts do we need to come up with all of those types of things. And that process worked, it just kind of rolled out. And it was what it was? Now because not only do you have to be able to bring the expertise to do the work to the table, you also have to know even more than that about what surrounds your expertise. And so when I say Jack of all trades here, I’m really not saying that agencies should always be saying we can do it all even though we’ll do it anyway. But what I think is smart, and the agencies have gotten smarter, have pragmatically evolved their offerings based on what makes sense for them to do. And they become a jack of all trades and all of those spaces, but then they also understand the bigger landscape beyond that. So it is less of those PR like, oh, yeah, we do PR Yeah, we do it, you know, and it would be more of, well, we understand the PR space, well, we understand it enough to know that that is not our area of expertise. However, based on all the other work we are doing. We work with PR folks that have a much stronger understanding of PR, but because we are the agency that does all these other things, we will help with the integration, the best messaging, what does that look like all of those types of things. And I think we are seeing a lot of the smaller players for a while at least were like, Okay, we do digital, okay, we do social, okay, we do websites, and those are either being gobbled up by the big guys and sort of, you know, integrated in, or they’re going away entirely because clients and who are consumers are getting savvier to the fact that if I do my website over here, and I do my social media, social media over here, and you know, my packaging looks like this, the consumer is not going to have any idea. Oh, by the way, they get what, seven to 10,000 messages a day. And so how in the world are they going to pick me versus the others. And so I think, when looking for an agency, the idea is to hear that they can do much more than just the one thing and then also how they approach the bigger picture. But the fact that they will give you the strategic foundation that will work across any of those things. And they have enough breadth of the doing, that they can solve the problems creatively. As far as that scope of the execution goes.

Yes, I couldn’t. I couldn’t agree more with that kind of the point of view in the assessment on, you know, we’ve all said we can do something. Yes. Right. We’ve all jumped in and said, I know we’re here to talk about Apple Apple. But if you throw in the orange, we’ll figure out how to do it. Yeah. And then you go

back to the office and you’re like, Shit, I don’t know how to sell a fruit salad.

who’s worked on oranges and, and I think that kind of goes back to little that fear of like, we don’t want to rock the boat and we want to get as many clients we want to hang on to them. And that’s important. But you know, good work will get clients at the end of the day and doing work that you’re good at is kind of how you how you can get to that space. You know, there’s been a at the beginning when I introduced myself, I said, you know, you will failed Interbrand Sterling. That’s been an evolution right and he will have failed was a production house here in town, that the Interbrand organization bought to marry up to an agency that I was at in New York, right, so we went from production, to package design. And as Sterling we’ve evolved from package design to really strategic branding. And in that space and strategic branding, we still have a core of that business that is often something physical, so often a folded carton of boxes can something like that, but as as strategic design partners for our clients, there’s touchpoints that radiate out from there. And some of them, we’re great at some of that we’ve got real talented people that can work on in the digital space in the social space in the messaging space in the strategic space, and some more on the next ring out, where we’ve got partners that we work with that are part of the Omnicom organization that we’re a part of those walls have come down a lot. So you know, there’s a moment where we will all instinctively lean forward. Yeah, start to say, yes. The difference is now we have more options, you go back 10-15 years, you had the people in the building, you had the things you could do, and everything else was not accessible, or a very difficult complex arrangement away. Now, even when you had offices in different cities, in different cities, right, it was really hard. Now collaboration across offices, across networks, across disciplines, across agencies inside of a holding company, and even across full time employees and part time employees and freelance resources. It’s a whole different game. And, you know, I want clients to hear that, yes, we can do that. And yes, we can do it all. Stay a little skeptical. But hear us out. Because we can really do more of it than we did years ago. Yeah. And I’m not I mean, yes, Sterling can’t do. But also, our industry is different collaboration and access are very different.

Yeah, I think your point about the walls coming down, I guess I hadn’t hadn’t internalize that before this episode. But I think that is a really important point. Because I think for a long time it was hold all this close, because we’re the ones that know how to do this the best. And we don’t want any help from you guys out there. And now, I think because the world has changed so much, because there’s more access, just purely like access to be able to talk to people. But also beyond that the willingness to say, that person, quite frankly, is better than we are. So why wouldn’t we bring them to the table as part of us? That just makes us better? I think there has been a lot of that. And even in a space where I still think egos are pretty strong. I mean, you still see, you know, we still have the arguments about the creative versus the strategy, and all those types of things. They still very much exist, and they are alive. But I think that letting go at least of being able to say I don’t know, I personally don’t know how to do it all and we are going to be better if we find the people that do instead of claiming we do and then scrambling.

Yeah, yeah. And, and you’re absolutely right. And there will always be the awesome them the the strategy and the design, right. There’s there will always be the sharks and the jets in the agency world. Right. It’s, it’s gonna be there. But I think we’ve all learned you can’t have one without the other. Yeah. And and they make each other better. And I think it helps that we all have kind of a broader view of the ripples that our work put into the pond. Yeah, right. And we used to think about, I just got to pick up the rock, and then you throw the rock, and then somebody counts the ripples, and then everyone will go home. Yeah, now we’re kind of all in it together. And we all do that. The ripples are huge, they go on forever, and they can really have an impact, right? And and it’s, it’s used to be very much go back to the process conversation. You know, TMA starts with it, hands it off to Team B, they take it to a different floor, they give it to TMC, they take it back downstairs, right now, the work and machine the machine, right, you feed it in, you feed it out right now, working together, across disciplines, working together across parts of the agency, and quite frankly, working with our clients more collaboratively than we ever did before. The work is better. And in that moment, you’re inherently able to do more. Yeah. Or you’re able to say, yeah, we can do that. Because we’re not just feeding it into a machine that feeds out one thing.

Anne Candido 38:48
Yeah. And I think as you’re, if you’re are trying to seek out an agency that thinks like this, and it’s like minded like this, always ask about the end game the ecosystem and see if they understand this idea of the ecosystem. I mean, even I’ll go back to, you know, again, vetting some PR agencies for our benches. When I talked to this specific agency about what she does, and how she handles her PR. She’s like, yes, you know, we’ll create all the stuff you needed to go pitch. But then we also will teach the social agency how to take that content, put it into social posts. And by the way, we have a graphic designer, if you need that help in order to actually create those social posts, then we’ll get all the analytics and we’ll feed that back. And we’ll try to see how Yeah, so it’s like the system in put in place to understand that understand the ecosystem understands how all the different parts play together, and how you have to create that ecosystem. And so that’s, to me like that triggers like the smartness of understanding the end game, which is about that the fact that a consumers need five or six touch points in order to really understand and especially if you’re something new into their, their environment, they need that like five or six hits and you need to hit them at different places, not just one through One Channel. And so if somebody can’t articulate how to take their thing and diversified across your channels, that should be a big red flag. Absolutely.

Scott Lucas 40:08
All right, number four good agencies know that relationships to continue to be the name of the game. So I will start here by saying this is one thing that has not changed. It will always be true. Scott has already said some of this. And I think that the point here is that

it can’t be transactional, because we’re not making widgets, right? We might, at the end of the day, be making a package Sure, or a digital ad, or social ad, or whatever the case might be. But here we’re talking about all all the things we’ve said so far in this conversation, you know, understanding the business, knowing that the client has the expertise, you know, vertically, and we haven’t horizontally and we can bring all these different experiences to the table, it’s just so much more than standing on a factory line and creating that part. And so I think the agencies that have done the other things we’ve talked about here are really evolving and being smart about what’s to come and understanding the trends and getting the digital space and knowing when to say we need different partners, all that kind of stuff. That’s all one thing. But on the other side, if you can’t build relationships, you may as well not do it. And I think that the ones that really work well, I mean, Scott, you said like going out for beer, and pizza, and all of that. And I think that definitely, that’s part of it. And we all want to make friends. And we want to have a good time and all those types of things. But I think trust and respect, and then the subsequent competence that comes from both sides, and the willingness, like we were talking before, to really hear and appreciate each other for what we’re saying, and what we bring to the table. And then checking the egos you know, a good ideas can come from anywhere, it can be the assistant account executive that used to, you know, get coffee, or it can be, you know, the tech guy who happens to come in that day, and he has an understanding of how things are executed on the back end, whatever it is, all of the people coming together at the table, and then focusing really first on the relationship. And then being able to do to produce good work is just so important. And it’s not relationship from just oh, we like to have fun together, it’s like in the relationship, we’ll have the hard conversations will that things out, we’ll bring it to the table, we won’t leave you handcuffed coming out of a conversation will give you the feedback right there, instead of calling you tomorrow to break the news that it didn’t hit, you know, all of these types of things, I think they just come back to trust and honesty and how we should be treating people. And I think that in the early stages of agency life, there was some of that, but because like you said the beginning, the creative was just like, right, like it was the big unveiling, and it was like, we’re gonna bring the best idea, you can’t do this. And we can, you know, there really wasn’t that heavy lifting, investment, whatever you want to call it into building the relationship, because as soon as you didn’t come with the best idea, you were gone, right. And so I just think I don’t know, I guess I just feel like this one becomes so much more important, especially if we’re pulling partners in from other groups, or we’re, you know, expanding what we can do, or we’re asking our clients, for patients on the agency side as we learn or try something with them that we haven’t done before all of those types of things, and the vulnerability that comes with being able to do that, because the relationship is strong. Yeah.

And that and what, like the vulnerability is so scary, right? Yes. Yeah. Like, we might not know everything, and we might have to put our guard down, we might have to, like lean in. But it’s so important. And it really is the foundation of those relationships. This is such an interesting topic. And there’s, there’s so much here because, yeah, it’s not always about going out and having fun and having beers right there. We’ve had clients that that don’t want to do that we have clients that need to go home for other reasons at the end of the day, or clients that will come to see us and go home right away, or we’ll go see them and they’re not going to like Well, that’s great. I think about the last two years, we’ve had new clients that we haven’t even met in person, you haven’t been in the same city level in the same room as some of these new clients. And those challenges of setting up Relationships are hard. And and it’s I think the first thing you said is it’s not widgets, and it can’t be transactional. And today’s a perfect case in point. We’re gonna take an hour out of our day, we’re going to record this podcast, and we’re gonna go about our way that’s transactional, or 15 minutes before the podcast April and I have competing texts that say, What would you like from Starbucks? Because because it’s not just about the 60-minute recording. That’s the transaction. That’s the widget for today. But around the widget is getting to know and it’s having a coffee, it’s understanding that it’s three o’clock and we all might want a drink or that instantly puts everybody’s guard down that we’ve brought a coffee that we’ve asked what you want, right? I had to text skinny vanilla latte, all right, I’m fine. I’ll put that in there. That’s what I like. That’s how, that’s how I was.

Anne Candido 44:50
There was no judgment. Well, maybe a little bit of judgment, but not well,

Scott Lucas 44:54
they just don’t have the Christmas sugar cookie one which was great.

Now we’re gonna To the really real, right,

exactly, exactly. And how do you, how do you take and like, those are like little client service tricks, right? I have had for years, I’ve had people Starbucks orders in their contact information on my phone. Right so that I know that if I’m working with creative director, strategy director or team member, I can, and they’re having a tough day, or it’s gonna be a long night, or I have to come in and say, Guess who didn’t like the last round? I can do it with with the coffee. But there’s, yeah, there’s going out for drinks there Starbucks, there’s remembering birthdays. But kids names, kids names, exact houses, names, funny stories, things like that anecdotes, but at the end of the day, it’s having a human connection. Right. And it’s understanding that what they’re in this moment for having them understand what you’re in the moment for. And that while this project, and this creative presentation is the reason we know each other, we are people outside of this 60 minute meeting and these boards we brought, and these ideas, we’re super excited to share in the hope you like, and let’s try to get to know outside of that widget 60 minutes, who we are. And those are the parts of relationship that carry on, right, and they can carry on through that work being the best work ever, or that work falling flat on its face. If it’s transactional, it’s over. If it’s a real relationship, they can handle that.

Anne Candido 46:25
I think the shared experience part and even like, if you’re not together, physically, the having a shared experience, however, that shows up is so critically important. And again, like you said, doesn’t have to be over drinks, it just has to be some common like, thing that you’re doing together and you’re achieved something and doesn’t have to be in the diversity, but something that you can like, say that you did together, I think that’s really, really important. And then on the other point I wanted to make here as to is that if I’m on the client side, my biggest success criteria for an agency, and I knew that I had really good relationship is if I felt like they were operating as an extension to me, it didn’t necessarily have to be like, they were gonna do everything that I was that I would do. And they did it right. But they couldn’t anticipate, right, they knew like, Oh, if we bring this to n, and we haven’t talked about this, you know, it’s going to be like an issue. So we need to kind of talk her through it, we need to give her a heads up or, like, hey, we heard this, you know, in on the other side, you know, and we need to kind of give her that heads up, or she’s gonna be like surprised, and she doesn’t like to be surprised. You know. And so I could always count on these agencies that acted like extensions of me to be able to work in a team environment. And it made it so much easier to have the authentic conversations, to have the transparency to have the vulnerability, because I knew if something happened, it was going to come back to me within the team. I had other agencies that when I did something, it went up to my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss and then came back down. That’s a horrible place to be. I mean, you can’t you can’t do that and expect to have a relationship of trust and integrity. So those are the points I wanted to make on that one. They’re

Scott Lucas 48:03
great points. And the operating as an extension of your team is is a shared gold standard for relationships. Right? We want you to feel that way about us. That means that we’ve done two things, we truly understand your business and the problem we’re solving. But we understand your role in solving this problem or your

Anne Candido 48:26
point. Yes. Right. And you honor that and you respect that. Yeah.

Scott Lucas 48:30
Yeah. And how can we help? Yes, yeah. And agencies have gotten greedy and tried to undermine it thinking they’re gonna, they’re gonna make it better, they’re gonna make the relationship bigger. But it’s really about kind of just helping achieve that goal. And doing that great work and moving that forward. Yeah. Um, I might be jumping ahead here. But, you know, one of the things that, that I’ve said a couple of times throughout my career to help us build that that relationship in a meaningful way at the very beginning is, as we walk is we learned to get to know a client, and we start to talk about the project, and we start to put the proposal together, and we’ve got dollars and cents on there. And it’s, maybe it’s scary. It’s 3, 4, 5, $600,000 project, maybe it’s bigger, maybe it’s smaller. And the team’s like, I think they’re gonna think they’re gonna buy it. Do you think it’s the right scope, I think is the right price. And I said, Let’s not think of it just as the dollars and cents. Yeah. It’s not that brand managers. $350,000. Yep. It’s, it’s that brands, it’s that organizations $350,000. It’s that brand managers case study to say, I’d like to be a VP of marketing now. Yep. Or the design manager in that same equation. And that same project, you know, it’s not their brand, but it’s a design solution that they’ll put in their portfolio to become the head of design at another organization. And maybe it’s has to do with their performance evaluation, maybe has to do with their desire to get promoted or get out or get to a different level. And then, you know, there’s a knock on the door, and a procurement person walks in And it says, I’d like to look at that proposal to

Anne Candido 50:04
well knock at the door. And it was gonna knock on the table, but it wasn’t sure about the mics and the levels, but

Scott Lucas 50:12
Well, what’s their motivation? Right? Like, we instantly go into defensive mode, because here they are trying to make like our project smaller and challenge us. Well, they have some sort of metric in their personal performance evaluation as to show a savings. Yep. Right. And they’re gonna come in and say, Well, you said this project was $350,000. In the back of their mind, I have to show savings. They’re like, Can you do it for 300? Then their storyline to their boss and their performance evaluation is? Well, I saved X percentage on that big branding project we did in May. Right? So how do we make sure we understand everybody’s motivation? That helps us build that relationship? Why not change the price? It might not change the scope of work, but when they have a question about it? Is that really the right way to do it? Is that really the right number of options? Is that really the right timing? We understand kind of where they’re coming from in that moment. And

I think the point to make there too, is, as you hear us talking, it’s not done in a manipulative way. Because I think that that is sometimes what the perception is like game playing, or okay, this is another piece of information we need to have or those kinds of things. And I think, when I was young in my career, and this, I always kind of saw it as like, Oh, we’re just pushing buttons. And we’re Do you know, like, we’re just trying to make the sale, and we’re, but I think the point of this point, right is about doing it in an authentic way that genuinely shows that you care, because you actually care about their success in it. And I think a lot of times to that there’s almost like a bias or an oversimplification, on the side of the agency of we’re delivering this work, right without thinking about the people on that side. And I will say that it is definitely a fault of ours, right? When somebody goes above and head for levels, that’s a complete disrespect to an as a person, especially if you didn’t have that conversation in the first place. And so I think that sometimes we get caught up in the work. And I know, we’re all famous on the agency side of saying, we’re not saving lives here, guys, like let’s calm down a little bit, and relax. But also, it’s about thinking about what’s important to that person in their job, no matter who they are, at the table, and not doing it in a way of like, well, this is how we’re gonna sell it in guys, but doing it in a way of like, alright, well, let’s think about the landscape of what we’re doing here. And make sure that we have our eyes on the whole thing. And that we’re smart enough to anticipate what’s going to come because of our experience, which is different than our experience in this industry, this category, this whatever. And it’s actually much more valuable.

Yeah. And, and on the surface, and people think, Oh, you’re just trying to sell that in, you’re just trying to get the wind, you just started with a project. You’re absolutely right. We’re trying to sell worthiness that is our job. We’re trying to win. We’re trying to win this assignment. But we’re trying to win the right assignment. Yeah. And we’re trying to win it at the right size. You know, I don’t want to go in and win a million dollar assignment and then have two weeks in have the client realize, oh, this is only a $200,000 assignment, because then I got to change all the staffing plans and all the resources, and also don’t want to win a $200,000 assignment, it turned out to be a million-dollar assignment. Because we won’t have started that in the right place, we will have had awkward and difficult budget conversations. They also want to understand the motivation, right? If that design manager in that conversation sees this as truly breakthrough, we better sure we budgeted and plan for designs that are revolutionary, right? And if that brand manager says hey, look, I just need 3% growth. I just gotta hang on to this. I don’t want this to go down. It’s going to be a tough year competitions doing this. We got some pricing increases or product supply? Well, that’s important for us to know from our plan and what we need to do, because that might be at odds with the breakthrough creative the design manager wants, and how do we manage those two conflicting opinions? Right? So yes, we want to win that assignment. We want them to sign that we want to we want to become the team that does that project. But it’s got to be the right project. And we got to set it up the right way. Yeah.

All right. So just to recap how to select an agency in today’s world, the agency focus should be on problem solving, not process following client needs should trump This is how we have always done it. The agency’s client lists are diversified and homogenous breadth of experience can counter the client’s depth of knowledge in their business. The one trick pony agency model has been replaced by the jack of all trades agency model, cross platform messaging requires an understanding of all of the channels. And finally, good agency, you know that relationships continue to be the name of the game, this is the one thing that hasn’t changed and will not change and what makes for a strong agency client partnership.

So can I jump in on some of those, right? Because I was like, I was listening to them and I was like, Is there is there an agency kind of point of view or side to those but they all kind of roll up in into an idea that I that I often use is that as you know, as you shop for an agency, right as you can see What are your options for an agency? I want our agency I want our brand Sterling and I want our work and our team to be a magnet, right? That you’re that you’re drawn to. You’ve got to seek us out. If we’re not talking to you, if we’re not marketing to you, if we’re not in your space, our magnet has to be strong enough that you seek us out. But in today’s world, in that moment, after you found us and after we’re talking, we need to be a mirror to your business into your team. Right, I think in the past when it was magic, all right, you know, like our cool creative director and their black turtleneck was the magnet. And give us the assignment, we’re going to come back with some big foam core boards, and three weeks later of not hearing from us, we’re gonna Wow, you. Right? And then we went through the process. Yeah, and right, whether it’s our brand, or our team, or our processes, the magnets come on in, and let’s just grind that sausage routine together, you and I, because ours is a unique sausage machine. Now, it’s kind of all the things we’ve said, right? The magnet works, you come to us, or we have found you. But let’s put them you’re on both of us. Right? Like come into our world and understand our team and our talent. And we’re gonna come into your world and we understand your business and your challenges. And in that moment, where we’re looking at kind of each other’s business, and we’re understanding it and reflecting it in both the way we work and the work we do. That’s when it really becomes successful and being able to search for that agency that has the ability to look in their mirror, but also to look into yours, I think is kind of when you know you’ve found the right one. I

think that’s a strong analogy. Yeah. It’s a fine point on what we’ve been talking about so far. Goldstar for Scott, excellent. I earned my bed. All right, so our next segment is in the trenches where we give real world examples specific to industries and situations. But what brought application for anyone to digest and put them into action? So the first one here is you’ve talked a lot about how to select an agency, but from the other side, what are the best clients. And we have actually covered this a little bit, but I think I can put a finer point through examples, at the very least on how this works. So and and I talk and we’re not shy about talking about the fact that we both left bigger agency and bigger corporation, because we were disenchanted by the grind, right, and the fact that we couldn’t have immediate impact on our clients, and that we couldn’t assist in all the things all the ways we wanted to around education, and how does what we do impact your business and showing that we understand your business, but then quickly, being able to respond to that it just honestly went too slow sometimes or it wasn’t our bag, all of those different types of things. And so I think for us it comes down to can we make impact quickly. But what that means is that the client is open to that from us. And I think we use that for criteria pretty specifically when we go to talk to folks is are they asking us about us to the point of relationships? Are they not just talking at their problem and telling us what they need? Are they really focusing and helping us understand what they need, and then listening and kind to hear back what we have to say. And some of it might be examples from there and business, different business, all the things we’ve talked about today. But I think that we’ve talked about trust and respect from a relationship standpoint, and it’s so important, especially when you’re going to be vulnerable in this situations. And we may be working with smaller clients or ones that you know, are small businesses that can’t necessarily always afford agencies, you know, looking at all of those different lenses, but really getting the appreciation, because as the agencies, sometimes you can feel like you’re the vendor. And I think that that’s a really tough spot to be in addition to you’re really trying to make a difference, and they’re just killing my vibe, by not responding and kind.

Yeah, I don’t I don’t think ads ever said this vendor is an extension of my team. Exactly. She’ll say exactly. This partner might have previously been a vendor or this agency would be then an extension, you know, of her team. Yeah. Yeah. The the all clients are great. Right? I mean, says that, yeah. But the the clients that are the best are are the ones that trust you, as an agency, the ones that are brave to make tough decisions and provide tough feedback, the ones that are empathetic to all of the factors, right, and it might be our factors at the agency. It might be the challenge that another agency partner is facing and all of a sudden their timelines moved right. So you have to be empathetic to the how that snowball effects all your your agency partners. Yeah, we wanted to be strategic If we want them to be creative, we want them to, to really understand how we we work and our team and our roles and the things that we kind of put on the table and in front of them. But a lot of that’s the mechanics of working together, right? We’ve all worked with people that, hey, I’ve just moved into brand management from supply chain, or I used to be in sales. And now I’m in marketing. And I have not done one of these projects for although I’ve been on the business and in the organization for 10 plus years. So some of those things like strategic thinking and creative feedback, we have to help teach them. That’s great, we’re happy to do that. And it has to happen. And it’s often the agency’s role. But the really great clients are the ones that have that trust, are brave. And, you know, sometimes Brave is making the big, like, I’m gonna present this up to the CMO because I think it’s wild. The other times phrases like, this won’t work at the CMO level or the research level. But here’s something that will, right and helping us get there, right, because it’s always not about that biggest rock, you can make the biggest ripples in the pond. It’s the one that makes the right ripples, right? So and then, and then empathy on both sides, right? Whether it’s literal empathy, whether it’s the mirror, that we’re all kind of looking into and working with each other, it gets you from vendor to partner.

Anne Candido 1:01:20
And I’ll add, because I saw a lot of this actually not happen as well as it should is accountability on the client side, just because it kind of sets up the question I was kind of fishing for at the, at the very beginning about like, how do you manage that dynamic, because I see that dynamic being caused by a lack of accountability, right. So it’s either, we’re gonna put a brief out in front of the client that, you know, was like, Oh, we want the big breakthrough idea, but we really either can’t afford it, nobody’s really gonna be open to it, it’s not what we really, really need, or, I, the brand just can’t accommodate it, like so that happened a lot. Like we used to ask for big breakthrough ideas on tight all the time used to drive our agencies crazy, because I mean, really are, you’re going to do a big breakthrough, like, you know, out of the box, like tight exit, you know, you’re just never going to you do like a really fantastic partnerships, right, you know, through the NFL, through like the Olympics, you know, all those sorts of things. But you, it’s a model that’s worked for, you know, over, you know, 75 years, it’s, we’re not going to break the model, right? So be honest, I think and take accountability for the fact that your brand is what your brand is. And so if there is flexibility to go do the big creativity is great. But if it’s not, then don’t put your agency through the paces. Just to come back and say no, we just want our content, our traditional like TV advertising, thank you very much, right? Because what that does is it starts teaching your agency to like, really limit their thinking, because they’re just going to regurgitate again, what the industry prescribes. And that I saw a lot of that in the CPG world, where it just became like more of the same or the same or the same, which is fine. But you just have to take accountability for the fact that that’s what it’s going to be so and then at the end of the day, like when your agency is, you know, you’re saying is they’re not coming back with the ideas that you want. Take a look in the mirror. So we’ll use a mirror back on the client side, too, and say, Is that my fault that I said, expectations poorly? Did I set the guidelines poorly? Did I not provide a good enough brief before you just throw the money at the bus in order to save your self? So that’s my little soapbox moment? No, but

Scott Lucas 1:03:27
accountability is is key at every turn in these relationships, and you know, in relationships in general in general. But in these projects, accountability, you know, often rears its head when there’s a problem. But you got to make sure you’re doing it when it’s good to write like, are we accountable to the timeline? are we accountable to the deliverables we promised? are we accountable to the brief? are we accountable to the consumer that we know we’re talking to? I might love this idea. I might love this execution. But I’m not the target. Right? So are we accountable all along the way? We can have accountability conversations, when we feel like you’ve missed the mark, you missed the brief. And like you said, it’s very much about setting expectations. Late Friday night, we got word that one of our clients is going to do a Super Bowl execution. Right. And we’re pretty excited, right? Because you know, there’s just so much excitement about

Anne Candido 1:04:20
this late Friday night for Super Bowl is happening on the Sunday. Yeah, just an execution,

Scott Lucas 1:04:23
like nothing, you know. And so Monday morning, super early, kick this thing off all the people, everybody wants to be on this conversation, right? All hands on deck, right? And we’re all we’re all excited. And there’s all this talk about this is the brand that’s going to do and this is our opportunity, and we’ve got some partnerships, and we’ve already we’ve used the licenses in the past and we’re allowed to use them again. And my boss who runs all of sterling, just asked the greatest question says it’s Monday. We’re all excited. And this is amazing. And this is great. And we are going to do something wonderful here. But let’s set some expectations. It’s Monday. It’s Monday and the approval process and something like this from this client from the NFL from the properties is complicated, right. So like, if we’re gonna get this execution done, let’s set expectations about the range of creativity, and the process around sharing those, revising them, vetting them, getting them approved and getting them revised and improved. And, you know, it was not a bad thing. It was not cold water on our campfire of excitement. It was super smart. Right. And it helped us make sure that what we do this week, which is going to be crazy, and it’s going to be a rush, and everybody’s working on it is done in the right context. Right. So we set expectations in that moment, I should say she set expectations in that moment right away. And it was super helpful. And we all kind of got out of there. took us an hour for that to sink in, say oh, yeah, thank God. Yeah. Because otherwise we’d all be chasing these ideas. And then we would have to do it all over again. And maybe again, and we’d be out of time.

Anne Candido 1:05:59
Yeah. And that’s the thing is the Superbowl doesn’t move. So no, no, hit it, or you don’t know.

Scott Lucas 1:06:03
And those properties and their approval process are crazy. Yeah, you can’t call and say, Would you please look at this real quick? No,

Anne Candido 1:06:10
no, no. Come on. They’re all in LA already.

Scott Lucas 1:06:13
Nope. All right. Number two, in the trenches, what is your advice if things don’t work out, or the fit is not there. And this is going to be a controversial one. But I’m gonna say, don’t be afraid to walk away. Many of my old bosses would kill me for saying that. And honestly, I say this from either side, too. So we’ve talked a lot already about making sure to spend the time on the relationship being honest and open and respectful, giving timely feedback being okay having the tough conversations. But quite honestly, sometimes, all that might happen, or maybe it doesn’t, but the relationship is just not a good fit. And, you know, Scott talked about when you’re in the pitch situation, and the first time you’re meeting and you want them to hear and believe certain things about you. I mean, it’s just like dating quite honestly, right? You might love each other in the beginning, and then you get a few dates in and you’re like, Oh, this isn’t really working out so well. And so I think I’ve seen just so much waste, from the perspective of not wanting to let things go again, on both sides, where someone just needs to call it and say, Alright, we’re walking away. Otherwise, you have just atrophy across the board, you have disenchanted employees, you have other accounts of your on the agency side that suffer, you have distraction, where accounts that might be going great aren’t getting the attention that they should get. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of reasons to do this. Scott mentioned brave before. And I think that that is what you need. Here, you have to have someone brave enough to say, this might be X amount of dollars for the organization, but at the end of the day, that money isn’t worth whatever we’re going through now. And then we would just say, exit gracefully, right? Do it as quickly as possible, have that conversation, preserve what you can, hopefully, there’s an appreciation on the other side for making the call and saying, you know, look, we both know, this isn’t working. So therefore, it’s not me, it’s you, you know, whatever. Or it’s not you it’s me, over that goes. But all of that to say, I mean, I just I don’t think that that happens enough. So that would be my perspective there or just, it takes too long for the end to be called. And by then you have all kinds of other sacrifices because of it.

Yeah, it’s, it’s, um, it’s a tough one, right? Because of what we’ve talked about on on wanting to win and grow business and solve problems and, and do great work and make great friends. It’s hard when you’re, you’re saying goodbye to all of the above. It is a necessary evil, it for a lot of reasons. Sometimes, because it’s not working out. Sometimes we’re not getting anywhere, sometimes, you know, you need to walk away because a different client has a conflict has come in or an agency says we’ve now have a new global AOR. And we’re saying goodbye to all our agencies, right. So they’ve they’ve ended for a lot of reasons, the hardest one is ending because it’s not working. Yeah. And we’re not getting what we want or you’re not getting what you want, or, or we’re not feeling that you understand our challenges. We’re not feeling like you understand our work right that it, it has to happen sometimes. But it can be avoided. And there are ways to try and fix things. There are simple fixes, like different team members and re briefing and re scoping and re understanding. We have we have gone through many of those conversations in my tenure in the industry about how about a different team? How about let’s start. Let’s start over or let’s agree brief. One time we went as far to actually do our own consumer research, because we didn’t feel like the problem to solve was really the problem to solve. And let’s use some of our tools that we have at our disposal, a strategy team and a research team. And let’s confirm that what we’re trying to Solve in this brief and this client is really the problem to solve. It wasn’t as far off as we thought. But there was subtle nuance in that, that helped us reframe the discussion and restart the conversation. But but April, like you said, when it has to happen, you have to do it quickly. You have to do it gracefully. And you have to do it objectively. Yeah, right. This all of a sudden, right? We’ve talked about relationships and friends, this is business. And this is about the work. And this is about, you came to us with a business problem to solve that involves your brand, we can’t do that for you, or we’ve hired you to solve a business problem that involves our brand, and we don’t think you can do it for us. And you know, just like those unfortunate moments, when we have to terminate employees, in any industry, you have to do it quickly, you have to do it very clearly. And it has to be done objectively. And I think, when that’s done, and you can make that conversation about a very objective business problem, versus a subjective feeling, I got the last time I saw the work, you have a chance at preserving that relationship. Great. Doesn’t always work that way. Right? Because we are human, we have egos, and they are fragile. And like we talked like, this has a lot to do with people’s career and their well being. And it can set them back, it can set them off, it can leave a bad taste in their mouth, for the role, the project, the agency, whatever the type of work. years ago, right before I moved to Cincinnati from New York, we were terminated by a client. They weren’t happy with the work. They didn’t think we had what they needed to get it done. Had a very honest, early morning conversation with this client at a Starbucks in New York. And we own up to it and said, Look, you’re not wrong. These things you said we did or didn’t do. I see why you feel that way. I hear you. And I don’t have an argument to say you’re wrong. I have reasons why we got there, but you’re not interested in those. And I said, Will you give us another chance, but not on this project? And not in this fiscal? When you think we’re ready. And they have come back twice? Right. And we’ve had them as a client, we’ve done done great work. If you go into that moment, and you say, Well, that’s true, but it’s because of Euro. It’s because of your phones because your team is because your brief is because you don’t know good work when you see it. That’s

Anne Candido 1:12:27
could be true, which could all be true,

Scott Lucas 1:12:29
right? But like, you’re not gonna get anywhere in that moment. And I fell in the moment, I had to make a quick decision that his objective reasons that were put on the table, were objective and fair. You’ve got to keep it to that kind of tonality and that subject material, and you can you can move on. But But you’re right, it really has to happen quick and has to happen gracefully. Sometimes it’s made so much worse by dragging it out. Uh huh. And then you’re in a situation where you can’t undo this thing. Because there’s deadlines. And there’s media time bought and printer time reserved, and events planned and trade booths being built nearly up. Now we’re stuck in this. So everybody’s radar should be up when things get, you know, turbulent, and everybody needs to be brave.

Anne Candido 1:13:17
I think that’s a sign. I don’t have anything else to add.

Scott Lucas 1:13:19
It’s rare that he doesn’t have a bill. Yeah, no, no, no,

no, it’s like either, we’ve been doing this too long. And we’re running out of time.

Anne Candido 1:13:30
That was really well said, I think it encompasses every single aspect about that. And if I was gonna add anything to it, I would just a reminder that people’s perceptions are the reality. Right? So you need to acknowledge that and you did and going into that conversation. And you provided an open door versus what, you know, handling it differently, could have closed a door and could have closed that door permanently and could have closed that door to future clients that you would have gotten from that person. And yeah, so I think that was just really well done.

Scott Lucas 1:13:58
That’s a really good point about about perceptions versus reality. Yeah. And we everybody comes into every conversation with their own perception be their reality reality,

Anne Candido 1:14:07
right? Yeah.

Scott Lucas 1:14:08
All right, well wrap up this conversation with our third and final question, which is asking each of us to give either a good example or not so good example of an experience that we have had and will be from the client side, Scott, and I will be from the agency side. And so mine is going to be a not so good one. So Wawa, I’ll be that person today. But I think it’s really important, especially based on all the conversation we just had about when things aren’t going so well. And so I obviously won’t give any names in this particular instance. But what I will say is they didn’t actually become a full blown client, and it’s because of the reasons that I talked specifically about before and the things that we’ve talked about all throughout this, it’s that at the end of the day, the client said that they wanted our expert were teased and our abilities and they just really didn’t. And so quite honestly, it was a hard one to walk away from. It was shiny, it was really exciting. You know, everyone was so happy to see it come in the door. But I think it was one where we were brave enough to say we don’t think this is a good fit. And actually, the client was angry a little bit at first because of their ego, right? Like, what do you mean, you don’t want to work on our business, right? But I was really proud in the moment because they came saying like, and you made the point before, we want to blow up this brand, we want to do something new, we’re tired of this. It’s not working. So we really want to just recreate it. And here’s all the reasons why. But what it quickly got to was just shooting down all of the ideas to the point where the strategy and creative team were just, you know, their spirits were completely diminished. But also, we brought that brief back on the table. And we’re like, I’m sorry, but like, where are we missing the mark here, right. And this was just a pitch like this was like a pitch to get the work perspective, right. And so we were doing a whole lot of work and heavy lifting to get to that space. And finally, we just looked around one and said, you know, the amount we’re investing at this point, if this is any indication, this is a bad move for us just purely financially and energy wise. But number two, when we look at the clients we want to work with and the type of work we want to be doing. One of the things that’s really foundational is having this partnership and having businesses that our employees want to work on and having projects that yes, sir exciting, but not at the sacrifice of everything else that we’re doing in this office. And so we very gracefully, and politely said, you know, we’re going to take our hat out of the ring, we just don’t think that this is a good fit. And then we did get some backlash. But I think in the long run number one, we identified that that’s not a group we want to work with anyway. But we got a so much unexpected excitement. And thanks from the organization itself, because they saw the leadership, one put our money where our mouth is to say, we will turn down clients we don’t think are good, we hadn’t done that in a really long time. And because of just the spotlight that was on this one, right, everyone was excited when it came in, well, we’re gonna speak RFP type of situation and things are going south real quick. You know, the, the employees could see like, oh, no, if we get this too, I really want to do it anymore. And so I just I think back on that experience, and one, like I said, I’m proud because we really stuck to who we were as an organization. And it can be really hard as the agency to walk away from those dollars and the shininess and the awards that can be won and all those types of things. But to just for me personally, it brought back the reason that I’m in this business, and when it goes really well why I love it.

Got to sample? And do you want to go from the client side now? Sure.

Anne Candido 1:17:50
I’ll go second.

Scott Lucas 1:17:51
Why did I steal yours? No, no, no. Together, then.

He started like, Wait, who is this? Do I know this? No, no, no, no. No, I don’t know. I don’t know this one. But I want to I want some time to think about my example. I might change my example. Okay, I’m gonna buy some time with answer. So

Anne Candido 1:18:09
I’ll give a little bit of an answer to your question. But also a little anecdote in the answer. Because everybody gets a really big kick out of this, um, because obviously, a client switched over to the agency side. So my, one of my very favorite agencies I worked with, and I say this a lot is Taylor global. So they’re my very favorite PR agency. They’re fantastic when it comes to sports, but they do all kinds of other lifestyle stuff. So if you need a big PR agency, they’re the people to go to. And they worked with me on the Olympics, they worked with me on NFL programs, we produce fantastic work. And when I say, you know, an agency is an example of an extension of me, they like were the epitome of that. So and that was I’m still friends with one of the partners. And so when I left to go do my own thing, he was fantastic. He’s like, you know, why don’t you come on, you do some freelance business for us as you’re kind of getting going. And I was like, Yeah, I’d love to do that. And he goes, Well, ironically, we’re gonna do Superbowl for our corporate team. And I was like, okay, I’d love to do that. And, you know, and he said, Well, you’re gonna be like, working as part of our creative team. And, you know, we’ll share the brief with you, you could come back with some solutions, and stuff like that. And I was like, alright, yeah, I’d love to do that. And so, I went, and I did all my work. And I was like, you know, having done like, eight or nine Super Bowls. I’m like, I know what works in Super Bowl. Like, I know how the brands operate. And Superboy I’m like, I’m gonna nail this. I’m gonna nail it. Right? And so I presented my work, they went and they presented it to the client, and they came back I’m like, which one are they like, and he’s like, didn’t like any of them? And I’m like, What do you mean he didn’t like it even with these people do they know where they came from this the other and I was ranting for like a good like two minutes. And also I didn’t hear anything on the other line. And I was like, You guys there and all of us have the photo muted and they’re all dying hysterically because they’re like, hey, now you know how we feel about Ah, welcome to the other side. So that continues to be a funny story that gets told, you know, you know, and when you thought you had, like all the great ideas, and then you know, your own people told you your ideas were not very good. You know, it’s like, yeah. Okay, thank you. So it ended up being a good execution. So I will say that could have been better if they were to listen. Oh, well, no. Yeah, it was. Yeah. So yeah. So that’s my little anecdote within the story of the fact that I really appreciate the folks over at Taylor. teaching you

Scott Lucas 1:20:34
a little bit of humbleness. Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Anne Candido 1:20:39
returned your phone calls anymore, and all kinds of stuff. It’s like, way dropping grace? I’ll tell you that.

Scott Lucas 1:20:46
Exactly, exactly. Let’s see, the question is when good clients, bad clients, right, is that kind of like

an example that sticks in your head? As a conversation when things went really well, and you were proud or things didn’t go so well. And I guess mine was kind of a mix as

well. So there’s an interesting story. And I kind of feel like it has some has some notes and has some, some threads to this, right. So in my, in my tenure in new business, with Interbrand, you know, global organization, largest branding agency offices around the world, you know, we would get brought into a lot of RFPs, and a lot of pitches, because, like, who are we going to who let’s look at these agencies, and it was great, we were on the list, we were on the roster, we were on the list. And we were in, and we had gone through a couple of really big RFPs, that we were really excited about brands that we weren’t working with inside portfolio organizations that we weren’t working with. And, you know, kind of was we were getting the feeling, there’s 123, we didn’t win any of them felt like we were in it just to be the high price bid. Right? We never really had a chance, right? It was like, we kind of want to work with this agency. We’re gonna bring somebody in super expensive, and maybe we’ll bring in somebody local. And the storyline is we’re taking these guys, because we’ve worked with them before, we’re not going to spend all this money, you just global agency. And this is too important to trust to a smaller, you know, local kind of maybe it’s adaptive ation, that’s super strategic, gaming, the system gaming the system, and we were skeptical, and we were burned out. And the phone rang again, for a brand that we hadn’t worked with. upstart energy brand comes in a nice slim can. And we were like, this would be a great piece of portfolio. But you know, this one, you know, and this would be really incredible. And it required our team to move quickly and move a lot of people and do a lot of work to get ready for this big pitch. And the big pitch was in LA, and it was right before the Christmas holiday the same day as another big pitch we had on the east coast with another client. And we had to figure out, how are we going to do both of these? Right? They both were big opportunities. One was big revenue. One was big portfolio, we needed a team people that could that could do both of these in both places on the same day, you know, at the same time, and you could kind of feel the team leaning towards that East Coast pitch because we had been burned. And this is a client we work with on the east coast was just a new brand. So they love us. We got a nice internal reco. And let’s go do this thing. And I just fell in the team. It wasn’t just my decision as a team, we got together and we said Do you think this is real? Do you think we’re really in this such a long shot? We don’t have energy drink category. We’re not so cow cool. Like, you know what, why, why us? Why did they call us and we just said, Look, if it’s real, we will regret not putting everything we have in this basket. We’ve got to go after it right. And we had kind of some learned bad behavior and reaction to a situation that was not them. And late night phone calls, late night airline tickets, late night planning change the game, we sent a whole bunch of people to La we sent a whole bunch of people in New York. And we won the LA we won the energy drink business and was a great client for a long time. It was a great portfolio. But it was one of those things where all of this relationship stuff and all of this transactional stuff and all of this kind of widget making lack of trust, and it’s just a just a machine wore us down and kind of forgot why we were in this. And we almost got too deep into that rut and forgot about. There’s this energy. There’s this great excitement in new clients, new projects and new problems to solve. And ultimately new friends.

That was real shiny.

That one was that real excited. Really excited. And we almost screwed it up. Yeah, yeah.

I think that’s a good point that we we talked cocked a little bit around it and, you know, things go bad and allowing it to affect the rest of the office. But I think it can be hard to be rejected a bunch of times in a row no matter what the situation is, right? If it’s gaming the system and trying to, you know, do it that way. Or if it’s just like cash, we’re always told her more expensive, you know, to keep at it and keep at it and keep at it, and also to keep people invested in participating in those types of things. Because I think at that point, the agency was a little bit disenchanted, and people were like, let me just go do my day to day work. Don’t I don’t want to I don’t want to do that anymore. It’s also above and beyond my usual duties. I mean, I think you’re right. There was there was bad energy. There was bad behavior. I mean, pun intended, I guess. But, you know, there was just a lot going on around the office. And I think that that story is a good indicator of how it can take so little sometimes to change the tune of things. Yep. I mean, that one did. I mean, I remember that. Yeah. It

was we had a great culture where our our new business pursuits were everybody’s new business. Yes. We were lucky enough. We had a culture of business development. Yes. Where everybody was aware everybody was involved in one way or another. And on a weekly basis, at Friday afternoon, we celebrated our wins and mourned our losses. Yes. And it just felt like it was a lot of mourning going on. And it felt like people put in a lot of great effort. A lot of long nights. A lot of great ideas, a lot of missed time with the family because they were on the road for these big pitches. And it’s never working out. Yeah. Yeah. And that that energy changed it. Yep. All

Anne Candido 1:26:31
right. Cool spell where you Team West coaster team east coast?

Scott Lucas 1:26:34
I don’t think I participated actually directly on either.

I don’t think you’re on directly on either. Yeah.

Gosh, I know. I definitely wasn’t on that when I was trying to think as he was talking who the other one was, but because I thought I knew but it wasn’t right. So anyway, mystery, mystery.

Anne Candido 1:26:53
Good cherry on on the Sunday story. That was yeah,

Scott Lucas 1:26:55
that would have been really crafty on this thought. And he was able to pat me on the back and

Anne Candido 1:27:02
I was ready for the other side of it. Oh, I

Scott Lucas 1:27:05
really screwed it up. Also very much like Scott.

No, that was that was a pitch we made for a pet food company. And we were so off on that. I don’t think you were in that one.

i Yes, that’s right. That’s right. Boy, did

we get that wrong? We had everything about that project wrong for that pitch, we flew down and spent an hour with them. And we were just sideways from the get go. It was rough. And it we came back and we changed the way we read RFPs and looked at briefs because

I do remember that. Yeah, generally speaking, yeah. Anyway, I had so many memories. So obviously, Scott and I know each other from it. Okay, so our third and final segment. When we have a guest, we typically hand it off to the guests to either plug your business talk a little bit more about anything, any advice you have, from the episode general thinking about how you think about work? And then of course, let people know where to find you. If they would like to reach out and chat with you more? No?

Well, absolutely. Well, well, hopefully, like through this conversation. You and listeners have learned more about Sterling right? And where I work and kind of how we operate. And you know how we operate is driven by a philosophy, right. And that philosophy is we’re in this together with our clients. And it revolves around trust and understanding. We have evolved wonderfully over the years to be truly a strategic branding agency. We’ve gotten broader in our reach in that kind of do it all conversation, and we can do anything for you.

And you can do it all.

But, but I think important to that is we believe that the parts of a brand that we work on are the absolute core of it and the foundation pieces of it. And while we might not do it all the work we do impacts all of it. And that’s a responsibility. We don’t take lightly and make sure that, you know, if we work on a brand’s pure strategic foundation and its core identity elements, knowing that it’s going to go into a lot of hands, internal and external. And we can do a lot of that work. And we have partners and if we don’t have the partners, we want to make partners, with our clients partners because we want to be extension of their team as much as ascension of our clients team. We can be found at Freshly redesigned website. Check it out. Haven’t seen that. Yeah, yeah, it’s got some great new work up there. We’ve had a heck of a time managing the pandemic with and I say that in a positive sense. It has done great for our business. April Yun, you’ve worked in a multi office, global or agency organization and you’ve worked obviously in a multi Office global organization. The pandemic sent us all to the same office, the same home office, right and and our Collaboration in our connection, not just across disciplines, but across offices across states, across tiers and organization. It’s been incredible. It really has. And as we start to go back to the office next month, which is going to happen, because like, that’s where fun and magic Lavenham is easy. We had fun, and we had magic working from home, and we’re going to be sad to leave it. So we’re going to find the right balance for organization. I think Additionally, we believe kind of what drives us is we believe in selling we called Living brands, right. And we’ve talked a lot about kind of briefs in projects and ecosystems, but things are happening fast. And you know, it’s not just one thing, showing up in one place, executed one way anymore. And it’s ever changing, and it’s ever flexible and understanding those infinite and flexible executions. At the moment of both creative and identity Inception or reinvention is really the magic that we think is is that Sterling?

Awesome. Where can they find you find

me? Write down along with all?

You don’t do anything on the digital space? Oh, sorry.

No, absolutely. Absolutely. You can find me at or Instagram. Okay, that’s LinkedIn, or LinkedIn.

All right, perfect. Perfect. All right. Well, thank you, Scott, I think you brought exactly what we needed to this conversation. So it’s been a pleasure to have you and then have Ann’s commentary to counteract us being the bullies in the room today, which is always fun.

Keeping us honest.

April Martini 1:31:42
All right, pleasure. So just to recap how to select an agency in today’s world number one, the agency focus should be on problem solving, not process following clients, client needs should trump This is how we’ve always done it. The agency’s client lists are diversified versus homogenous breadth of experience can counter the client’s depth of knowledge of their business. The one trick pony agency model has been replaced by the jack of all trades agency model. Cross Platform messaging requires an understanding of all channels within the brand experience. And finally, good agencies know that relationships continue to be the name of the game. This is one thing that hasn’t changed will not change and makes for a stronger agency, client long standing partnership. And with that, we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts. Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvy marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!