It Isn't You, It's Me.
Not to be confused with the constant refrain of my ex wife, "It isn't me, it's you!" (Do I sound bitter? I can never tell) this thoughtful breakup line is used in the hope that two people can walk away, whole-enough, to get back out there and fail again.
But has anyone ever heard a client say it when firing their ad agency. "You guys were absolutely great, really. It's us. We just that we can't seem to find our collective asses using both hands so I gotta fire you before they fire me."
Now don't get me wrong, 9 out of 10 agencies earn their phone calls and certified letters of dismissal and agency principles are only half kidding when they say, "The day you win an account is the day you start losing it."
The reality is that both parties are almost always at fault because they continue to work within an obsolete system.
Marketing can no longer be treated as an opportunistic, external exercise. It's not enough to look at how a company's competitors are positioned, find a gap the company can fill and start cranking out ads and posts across social media. No one is watching, listening or buying it, no matter what you make your data say.
Today, people want authenticity and honesty. Crazy as that sounds, they have grown weary of being manipulated and lied to in advertising to the point they no longer depend on it. They question its value. Ads deliver the brand's perspective but rarely includes what people feel they want and need to make the best purchase decision.
That said, they still want help finding the right products and services, for them and they will gladly support companies who demonstrate a commitment to their success. They simply insist that commitment be real. And that's the problem.
Even in a world that demands it, brands, in "partnership" with their agencies, still refuse to define themselves and commit to helping a specific segment of the audience. They want more. Clients want everyone to buy from them because it will make them wildly successful and rich beyond their dreams. Agencies want happy clients and good meetings so they go along.
It clearly frustrates both sides when trying to be everything to everyone actually makes them invisible.
The answer is simple but, no doubt, challenging.
Define why your company exists in terms that are both authentic to who you actually are while, at the same time, emotionally engaging an audience looking for just that.
Figure out who you are, who you want to help and how you plan to do it. Commit to doing only that and do it as well as you possibly can. Hire only people who believe in your brand purpose and inspire them to greatness every day. They will love you for it as will your customers.
Build your inspiring brand narrative out seamlessly from your core, simultaneously inspiring your employees, partners, vendors, customers, prospects and other important/influential audiences.
Be true to yourself and do that better than anyone trying to copy you.
If you do, your message will reach the right people, give them the information they need to become loyal to your brand and evangelize it to their like-minded friends and family.
Do this and you may find you never, again, have to go through that messy break up.