By Kim Browne
Post the summer holidays, January brings realism, a slow start and an avalanche of social media memes lamenting the verisimilitude that comes packaged with a new year. A favourite cartoon that caught my eye is a Roz Chast classic from The New Yorker on how the annual calendar truly feels, which has nothing to do with the fact that all months are actually plus-minus the same length in human-measured time. (See more of her work here: https://rozchast.com.)
Yes, the month of January can seem endless. If you received your December salary earlier than usual from an understanding employer, it can appear even longer after a summer holiday full of extra expenses. This year has been no different. Thank goodness for the month of love.
Which makes me think about some unexpected, lovely words of appreciation that simply arrived at the absolutely best moment. After a particularly difficult end-of-January client meeting, I was glad to receive a warm message from the client, who has become a business friend.
“Wow! I’ve never worked with such an agile agency! Thank you.”
Praise and a thank you. That’s a whole lot of redemption right there.
Remember, this is a WhatsApp received after a particularly tough face-to-face. It just shows that you don’t always know (unless someone tells you) how much they appreciate what you may have done. Seeing a word of thanks and appreciation in a written message can mean the world to someone. I’m certainly going to try and follow suit. Life is short; celebrate, share, give compliments and don’t sweat the small stuff. (Yes, yes, I know it sounds just like a resolution, but that’s simply how I’m feeling right now.) And then as Albert Einstein is famed for saying: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
But back to business. After easing into 2019 gently, whilst waiting for clients to return from their holidays and having got kids back to school and varsity, we are blessed to have received an avalanche of proposal requests.
Ah, the good old “Request for Proposal”. Seemingly created to make things easier and allow clients to find “the right” agency, RFP is not our favourite acronym. This bureaucratic tool is often used to justify previously made decisions, or simply to cast the net super wide and see what comes back. (You might catch some fish, but don’t be surprised by all the unintended consequences of being bitten by the sharks that got caught in the process.)
In our experience the best proposal requests usually come from long-standing clients who know our agency well and appreciate our work ethic and the chemistry between us. A famous book on consulting businesses states that this kind of relationship between (creative) consultants and clients is always a 50/50. A skewed business relationship, in which either the consultant or the client contributes an unequal share to the task at hand never leads to the best outcome.
Positively, the proposals we are currently busy with come from existing clients and quality referrals (our primary source of new business). We have already delivered some of these and are hard at work finalising the rest. You never know, even if you think you do with the fickle RFP process – but we’re crossing our fingers and holding thumbs! Almost eight years in we agree with Gary Player that the harder we work, the luckier we become…
Thank you to all our wonderful business partners, clients and clients-to-be. Your trust rests well with us.
I hope you receive your share of return on love this month. After the trial month of January, let’s get this year started!