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The Nothing – We’ll Bend Over For You

Posted on June 8, 2007 and read 1,531 times

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I’ve been contemplating writing a book for the past several years. This book, that we’ll refer to as THE NOTHING, would be auto-biographical and recap my life over the past decade. During those ten years, I experienced a volution* of my career in the ad industry. I say volution*, since my career did not really evolve or devolve. It just volved**. It’s way too easy to say that I had a few ups and downs and way too difficult to explain it all in an article – hence the book seems like such a novel idea (pun intended). Where am I going with this? I thought that I’d share one of the strongest lessons that I learned during the last ten years of my career. This won’t be boring.

I call it, “One of the Strongest Lessons I Learned During the Last Ten Years of My Career” and here it is. Think before you speak. In the ad industry, it’s critical to be knowledgeable and savvy when meeting with a client, so It’s worth the few extra moments to collect your thoughts, review your thoughts and make the appropriate statement. If you don’t follow this principle, Murphy’s Law seems to go into full effect. My evidence – “We’ll bend over for you.”

Yes, I said that. The client was across from me at the conference table. It was bad.
Yes, I said that. My co-worker was next to me at the conference table. It was embarrassing.
Yes, I said that. The client had his administrative assistant sitting next to him at the conference table. She snickered.

Just to do a quick recap, I said “We’ll bend over for you.” to a client. A little background on the situation: Client was a small to medium sized accounting firm, very successful in their own niche. The owner had some ticks about him too, which really didn’t help the situation at all because it made me nervous. He had this “elbow pants move”, where he used his elbows to pull his pants up from the belt line – kind of like he didn’t want his hands to touch his pants. It wouldn’t have been that noticeable, but when you do it a handful of times in a handful of minutes, I think it’s safe to call it a tick. The firm was officially a client, but fairly new to our agency. Bossman decided it would be a good time for me to get my feet wet, and I thought it would be a good time to get the new hire involved in a client meeting. Both of those ideas ended up being bad ones.

Obviously you can figure out the context of the conversation. I was selling him on the idea that we would do anything and everything to assure his satisfaction. Ahem. Since the topic was customer satisfaction, I REALLY should have thought for a few moments before I said a word. The reality is that I was nervous, it was my first time, and I really wanted to impress him. Ahem. If I had thought before I had spoken, my phrase would have come out along the lines of AllState’s old tagline – although unoriginal, tons better than “We’ll bend over for you”.

Not surprisingly to this day, I am ridiculed and reminded by that damn co-worker (who I still partner with) for what I said. Fortunately, I learned a life lesson and adopted it as a fundamental principle for communication. It’s not new, but it seems to hold more validity when coupled with a real story. I haven’t suffered from verbal diarrhea since.

By the way, after I said “We’ll bend over for you” there really was no reaction. There was an uncomfortable moment of silence and then the client moved onto discussing the execution of the project. I did notice that after the meeting wrapped up, he did his “elbow pants move” a few extra times. I can only hope that it wasn’t a reflection of his discomfort to be around the man that said he’d bend over for him.

*yes it’s a word
**no, it’s not a word


Daniel Robinette
President
Griffin Creative






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