This Speech is Only Half Finished – Eric Kiker


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This Speech is Only Half Finished gives agencies, studios, even freelancers a proven process for helping get to the truth of who they are and who they best serve, so they can break through to the next level - and get more of whatever they value most from what they do, whether that's money, prestige, freedom, creativity or something else.

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This Speech is Only Half Finished – Eric Kiker

  1. 1. THS SPCH S OLY HAF FNSHD Good afternoon, thanks so much for having me. I’m Eric Kiker and sorry, but this speech is only half finished. I wanted to ask you all an audience participation question to start things off. And I’m going to record the answers right here in this next slide:
  2. 2. MUCH MORE______________? I just thought of this the other day and I’ve never tried it, so sorry in advance if it’s glitchy. I call it Spontaneous PowerPoint, or SPPT. So if you would, please, spit out some fill-in-the-blank answers when I ask, from a business perspective, what do you want much more of? Okay that’s great. And now, the speech can start.
  3. 3. 3 What happens when you go here?
  4. 4. advertising agencies loc: Akron, OH 4 … and enter this?
  5. 5. 5 Once you've zoomed out four clicks, here's what you get. Can you find yourself in this picture?
  6. 6. advertising agencies loc: Chicago, IL 6 Let's try your neighbor, Chicago.
  7. 7. 7 Now, again, I pulled back a bit to show the surrounding area. That's a heck of a lot of dots. And they shouldn’t feel bad at all - because the same holds true in every market:
  8. 8. Los Angeles 8 Los Angeles
  9. 9. New York 9 New York
  10. 10. Des Moines 10 And just in case you think the lots of dots example only applies to big cities, here's Des Moines. Again, no shortage of people like us doing the sorts of things we do.
  11. 11. Denver 11 My agency is located in Denver, where there are almost as many ad agencies...
  12. 12. Denver - plumbers 12 As there are plumbers.
  13. 13. 13 Our agency is called LeeReedy/Xylem Digital. We're a traditional and digital agency with a long history of working with great clients including:
  14. 14. 14 Chiquita
  15. 15. 15 Chipotle
  16. 16. 16 Geek Squad
  17. 17. 17 Jamba Juice
  18. 18. 18 Atkins
  19. 19. 19 Hunter Douglas
  20. 20. 20 and Naked Juice.Yet, we are, beyond our own back yard, virtually unknown. Why.
  21. 21. New York 21 Because we...
  22. 22. Los Angeles 22 ...look like...
  23. 23. Chicago 23 ...everyone else.
  24. 24. Denver 24 So we set a goal for ourselves. To stand for something true. So when a very specific kind of client is looking for precisely what we represent, the map looks a whole lot less like this:
  25. 25. 25 ...and more like this. But selling more work, not necessarily standing out was what we had in mind when we hired a business consultant.
  26. 26. 26 This is Cindy Kenyon. Cindy's the consultant we hired to help us sell more work. But after listening to our story and looking at our materials, which we thought were pretty good, she said in a cute Texas drawl, "Y'all need to start showin' up better." We were stunned. After all, we thought we had some pretty good stuff. Our line at the time was this:
  27. 27. Think like investors 27 We think like investors. We thought it was good. After all, a lot of our clients were and are VC firms. Naked was owned by a VC firm. Atkins is owned by the same one. We also tend to work with a lot of start up brands who don't have a lot of money. So we liked this. But Cindy wasn't convinced it was differentiating enough. So we said, “Fine, we’ll just put you on retainer little missy.” Cindy knows a lot about advertising agencies - and a lot about a lot of advertising agencies.
  28. 28. 28 After all, she ran the RFP for Radio Shack back in 2004. Cindy looked at a ton of agencies, which were culled down to a great many agencies, which eventually resulted in Arnold Worldwide winning the business.
  29. 29. 29 You've heard of Arnold.Volvo, Carnival Cruise Lines, Jack Daniels. Arnold is in Boston.
  30. 30. Boston 30 They're the big B.
  31. 31. Cindy Kenyon 31 Cindy introduced us to a number of people in her personal network:
  32. 32. Cindy Hennessy Cindy Kenyon 31 Cindy Hennessy was Marketing and Innovation VP at Pizza Hut, then SVP of Innovation at Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, then she held the same title at Cadbury Schweppes. Cindy kills it.
  33. 33. Cindy Hennessy Don Carroll Cindy Kenyon 31 Then there was Don Carroll. Don was Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at Radio Shack, then President and CEO at Heelys. They make those kids’ shoes that turn into skates.
  34. 34. Cindy Hennessy Don Carroll Cindy Kenyon Janet Bustin 31 Janet Bustin spent 19 years as President at DDB Dallas. Big brains, all of these guys.
  35. 35. What they told us (between bites of free food) 35 So, we went to Dallas, where Cindy Kenyon introduced us to these pretty impressive marketing and advertising people. One of my partners, Patrick Gill and I, told our story - talked about our clients, asked questions, showed our Think Like Investors deck. And we did okay. What we heard was, based on our deck, we didn't seem that different than lots of other agencies.
  36. 36. 36 Janet Bustin put it to us best, drinking hot coffee in a Corner Bakery that was hotter than both the coffee and hell. She said, "Fellas, I've been in the agency business for 20 years and they all say the same exact thing."
  37. 37. “We’re big idea people.” 37 We're big idea people.
  38. 38. "We're big idea people." "We're highly collaborative." 38 We're highly collaborative.
  39. 39. "We're big idea people." "We're highly collaborative." "And we're all about results." 39 And we're all about results. We couldn't believe it.
  40. 40. Chicago 40 Chicago…
  41. 41. Los Angeles 41 Los Angeles…
  42. 42. New York 42 even New York agencies are all saying the same thing?
  43. 43. "We're big idea people." "We're highly collaborative." "And we're all about results." 43 These three things? Well, at first, we were more than somewhat disappointed. Don't really know why. Maybe it was just thinking we had something great and distinctive with Think Like Investors. And all this meant was that Cindy Kenyon was right - that we needed to show up better. More to the point, we needed to show up better - and different. But the fact was, we realized after we got out of that hell hot Corner Bakery and got our brains back into Cindy's air conditioned Lexus, that here was a real opportunity. If all those dots were generating the same three ideas - and winning clients anyway, how amazingly well could we possibly do if we could just figure out what sets us truly, differentiatingly apart.
  44. 44. Denver 44 So we came home to this. And we started thinking. But of course, clients kept calling and kept wanting us to do the work we'd agreed to do. So beyond the excited plane ride back to Denver, we didn't get much done.
  45. 45. Cindy Kenyon 31 A few days later, Cindy Kenyon called. "I have this great opportunity," she said, still Texas drawling. "Randy Gier has agreed to meet you and Patrick as a favor to me. Isn't that great?"
  46. 46. Cindy Hennessy Don Carroll Cindy Kenyon Randy Gier Janet Bustin 31 Randy Gier was CMO at KFC, then CMO of Pizza Hut, then Advisor to the office of the CEO at Tracey Locke. Today, Randy's CMO of LaLa - a $2B Mexico-based dairy moving into the US market. Randy's job is to make them into a $4B dairy. And he'd agreed to see us as a favor to Cindy Kenyon.
  47. 47. A favor to Cindy Kenyon. 47 To say we weren’t bothered by the fact that we were a “favor” would be, a lie. We did care. And it made us feel rather small. And local. The day before we left, an old client dropped by.
  48. 48. 48 Susan Aust was, up until recently, the Creative Director at Noodles and Company. I'd written their website a couple years back, when I was freelancing and had also done several on premise promotions - Susan was - and is - a really great person and I was glad she came by.
  49. 49. The Brand Workshop 49 Susan asked what was going on with me and how my work had changed since I'd become a partner at LeeReedy/Xylem Digital. I told her I was spending a lot more time moderating and analyzing our brand workshop, which we called, The Brand Workshop. I told her what a great tool it was and how we routinely turned brand essence statements, positioning platform and more, around for clients in just two weeks.
  50. 50. 50 "Yeah, Susan said, Noodles and Company's new agency, Martin Williams has a process like that - they get to all that stuff just like you do." "Oh, I said," acknowledging the reason we'd never "branded" our brand workshop or TM'd it or anything - because everyone has a process like it." "Yeah, Susan went on." "It took them four months." At that moment I heard a tiny little "click," as if a light had been turned on, way down a long, long hallway.
  51. 51. Dallas, Texas LaLa Headquarters Thursday 51 Cindy Kenyon, Patrick Gill and I arrived to see Randy Gier. The first thing I noticed as we arrived was that LaLa was in the building owned and populated by The Richards Group.
  52. 52. 52 That’s their homepage. Really simple and cool. Does anybody know about The Richards Group? Well, for those of you who don’t, The Richards Group is America's largest independently owned ad agency…
  53. 53. 53 they’re not owned by WPP
  54. 54. 54 Omnicom
  55. 55. 55 Or Interpublic
  56. 56. Stan Richards: Damn cool guy 56 The Richards Group is owned by Stan Richards. They're one of my favorite agencies - flat from an organizational standpoint, no real hierarchy, everyone sits together - top guys next to junior guys, account guys next to creative guys. Travelocity, Amstel Light, Fruit of the Loom, Patron. Amazing. These guys know who they are. And we were walking into their building.
  57. 57. Randy Gier: An awfully nice man as well 57 Cindy Kenyon had told us Randy Gier was a great guy - and he was. All smiles, very warm. He showed us the concept for his hobby, a new restaurant he was opening with some partners called Cedar Plank Grill. We talked about LaLa. We showed him our Think Like Investors deck. He liked our work, asked probing questions. I told him about our Brand Workshop and how we'd proudly eschewed any branding or TM'ing. Then Randy told a story.
  58. 58. Brainfarts 58 "Oh, you've got to brand it," he said. Because you'll get into P&G or some other big company, where they have a bunch of Associate Brand Managers running around with MBAs but no creative experience whatsoever.You'll do your process, your Brainfarts process. Next week, some other ABM will ask your ABM, "Hey what was that brand thing you did last week?" "Brainfarts right?" "And you'll get a call from that guy too. Because these guys, as smart as they are, just never search outside their four walls." "So yes, Brainfarts will sell."
  59. 59. ™ 59 "What if we called it Two Weeks to Truth?" I asked. Feeling the very independence Stan Richards must feel when he tells MDC, owners of Crispin Porter + Bogusky and other agencies, to go suck an egg.You see, the afternoon before, sitting in the bar at the very stylish W hotel in downtown Dallas, Patrick, Cindy Kenyon and I had been working - on showing up better. I had told them my down the hallway epiphany surrounding the possible real difference between our brand workshop and everyone else's TM'd process. Two weeks. It all happens in two weeks - and we don't just give people a brand essence, we give them positioning platforms, tactics that bring the platforms to life, even packaging or first round creative - in two weeks.
  60. 60. Randy loved it™ 60 "Two Weeks to Truth. I love that," was Randy Gier's response to my moment of Stan Richards-like confidence. "That says great things to me on several levels. Oh that's much better than Brainfarts." So to Randy Gier, I say, thanks for doing the favor to Cindy Kenyon - you did us a favor too.
  61. 61. Back to Denver. And the beginning. 61 Through our meetings, we'd learned a lot about what not to do and pushed ourselves to find the greatness in one thing we'd been doing. Two Weeks to Truth was TM'd. We created a deck around it. It gained traction around the office and with clients to whom we spoke about it.
  62. 62. Two Weeks To Truth™ 62 Two Weeks to Truth, as Randy Gier had told us, instantly gave our heretofore anonymous little branding tool some heft. Like an unknown actor who wins an Oscar - only in this case, we'd given the award to ourselves. And no one seemed to mind.
  63. 63. Damn 63 The branding of Two Weeks to Truth simultaneously buoyed us up and sunk our battleship. It wasn't enough to make us start "Showing up better." For that, we needed to go deeper. And that meant getting our big tool out and using it on ourselves.
  64. 64. What we saw in the mirror 64 The first thing we do in every Two Weeks to Truth workshop is ask,
  65. 65. If we do our jobs well, we will... 65 if we do our jobs well in this process, we will, what? When we asked ourselves that day, this is the list we generated:
  66. 66. Know or create our niche Be more interesting Have a big vision - and make it come true Take more risks Be seen as thought leaders Be written about Make everything easier Get in front of the right people Be in a position to hire our clients 66 Most of these are fairly expected and things you'd put on your own lists. But for us, that last one was the one that gave us our first clue as to what the truth of the LeeReedy/Xylem Digital brand is: Be in a position to hire our clients. Great goal, but how on Earth could we accomplish that?
  67. 67. What are we? 67 Another step we go through in Two Weeks to Truth is to ask, "What are we?" On that day, we asked what are we today, in July of 2010 and what are we in July of 2012. Here's an abbreviated list of what we came up with:
  68. 68. Looking beyond our small pond A think and do tank Utilitarian Owners know how to do the work - and do it Flat organizationally Ready for change Tend toward being yes men Entrepreneurs Risk-takers Likeable/Trustworthy Invisible/under the radar Solving problems through design Inventors We seem project oriented Cheap 69
  69. 69. Looking beyond our small pond A think and do tank Utilitarian Owners know how to do the work - and do it Flat organizationally Ready for change Tend toward being yes men Entrepreneurs Risk-takers Likeable/Trustworthy Invisible/under the radar Solving problems through design Inventors We seem project oriented Cheap 68 In 2010, we decided, we were (and are) an all-purpose marketing firm. We have and have had many of the same uncomfortable issues many of you may have had - not being valued as highly as we'd like; having clients whom, if not for the money, we'd have little in common with; being order takers - or worse, pairs of hands.Yet, we had and have strengths that could and should be valued:
  70. 70. 2010 A think and do tank Utilitarian Owners know how to do the work – and do it Flat organizationally Entrepreneurs Risk-takers Likeable/Trustworthy Solving problems through design Inventors 2012 Food and beverage specialists CPG specialists Being sought out Able to be selective 70 Now let's layer onto these bolded items - unique strengths, with some additional truths we hope to acquire by 2012. That list looks like this: What we want to add is essentially some focused specialty, specifically related to our food , beverage and CPG clients of today. And we hope that increased focus will help us be sought out and able to be selective - in other words, gain a reputation. So that's us, current and present. Next, we looked at our clients with the same filters.
  71. 71. 2010 2012 High maintenance Urging us to take risks “Killing me” Private equity companies Unaware Board members Tactical Damned picky Challenger brands Seasoned and knowledgeable Bootstrapping Visionary Nervous Unconventional Green Trying to be purchased or go public Lean on us extensively Launching or relaunching something Trying to get purchased Trying to become the clear choice Launching something new Impatient Start-ups Innovators Growers Courageous Taking risks Entrepreneurs 71 At first glance, our clients in 2012 are far more sophisticated than those in 2010. Mainly due to the first things that popped into our heads when we asked, "What are our clients?"
  72. 72. 2010 2012 High maintenance Urging us to take risks “Killing me” Private equity companies Unaware Board members Tactical Damned picky Challenger brands Seasoned and knowledgeable Bootstrapping Visionary Nervous Unconventional Green Trying to be purchased or go public Lean on us extensively Launching or relaunching something Trying to get purchased Trying to become the clear choice Launching something new Impatient Start-ups Innovators Growers Courageous Taking risks Entrepreneurs 71 So what if remove those negatives and leave just the things we love about our clients today and what we want in our clients in two years. The two lists look like this:
  73. 73. 2010 2012 Challenger brands Urging us to take risks Lean on us extensively Private equity companies Trying to get purchased Board members Launching something new Damned picky Impatient Seasoned and knowledgeable Start-ups Visionary Innovators Unconventional Growers Trying to be purchased or go public Courageous Launching or relaunching something Taking risks Trying to become the clear choice Entrepreneurs 71 Not that much different right? What this told us was that our clients today are not that different than our clients two years from now. Our best clients that is. The ones that are getting the most out of us – the ones that are using everything we bring to the table not just from our fingertips to wrists.
  74. 74. Epiphany #1 74 That thing Janet Bustin told Patrick, Cindy Kenyon and me in that sweltering Corner Bakery was eating at me as I wrote our Two Weeks to Truth roundup. "Every agency says the same three things about themselves..." I remembered her saying. About themselves, themselves, selves, selves. And then something hit me as I kept looking at the lists of attributes that defined our clients. The best ones have many of the same attributes...
  75. 75. They're under tremendous pressure They hate wasting time and money They're not looking for marginal improvement... ...or to maintain a leadership position They're incredibly intense and obsessed with success 75 At LeeReedy/Xylem Digital, we're all the same things they are. That list right there contains things that drive us. These attributes were driving us to put ourselves through our own process. So why wouldn't we express our brand essence in terms of, not what we are - but what our clients are? I wasn't aware of any agency that had done that. So right there, we could have a way of saying something different. But what should the words - the ones we'd use to define our clients, which in turn define us - say?
  76. 76. Epiphany #2 76 I presented my hypothesis to one of my other partners, Scott Snyder. Scott's the remaining original partner at Xylem Digital. He's a sharp interactive guy and a sharp sales guy - so it was natural to run what would become an initial sales message by him. Scott loved the idea of our brand essence being a statement about our clients. On the phone, I came up with the statement.
  77. 77. Clients with Fight 77 It was good. It captured everything I've been telling you about. It started with "Clients" and it ended with something emotional that epitomized all those attributes our best clients have in common. Clients with Fight was scrappy, determined, goal oriented and defendable. And it was a marvelous placeholder until we found something even better.
  78. 78. 78 About a week later, after we'd all been talking rather excitedly about Clients with Fight, something dawned on Patrick's, Scott's and my other partner - Kelly Reedy. Kelly's Lee Reedy's son, who along with Patrick, purchased the company eight or so years ago. Kelly's realization was based on the work we'd been doing with a new client called Corazonas.
  79. 79. 79 Corazonas was a four year old brand with a great story - they owned a patent from Brandeis University for infusing plant sterols into chips, thus they were and are the only snack food capable of actually lowering cholesterol. But when we were introduced to the company, they weren't getting the sales traction they deserved. We knew it had a lot to do with their packaging. Delicious-looking, but it didn't make the promise. And in the chip aisle, it was getting lost.
  80. 80. 80 We successfully repackaged the brand to make the point as loud and clear as their Washington DC lawyers would let us. But this wasn't the point of Kelly's realization. What interested him was how our process and our entrepreneurial drive may have actually reawakened and strengthened that of our client.
  81. 81. A four letter word 81 "You're talking about Fire" I said. Clients with Fire.
  82. 82. 82 For us, it caught. Clients with Fire had everything we had been looking for. It was about our clients first, not us. It instantly gave an emotional impression. It wasn't anything like any of those three things Janet Bustin warned us about saying, yet it implied big ideas, collaboration and results. Best of all, "Fire" is such a loaded word, no one in our industry has used it the way we were intending. For instance, Google "Fire advertising agency" and you get a bunch of articles on how to fire your ad agency. Google Clients with Fire and you get this:
  83. 83. 83 So, three months after hiring Cindy Kenyon, we had two TM'd phrases - Two Weeks to Truth and Clients with Fire. The next step was to create a deck, the first couple pages I'll share with you here.
  84. 84. 84
  85. 85. Time // why? // fire // hate // To position or reposition their brands Some To build sales distribution companies … and awareness may think … and market share they have To innovate product, package, plenty communications strategy of time: To attract investors To stimulate an acquisition 85 Some companies really do have lots of time to do these kinds of things. To position or reposition, to build sales, awareness and market share, to innovate, to raise money, to get bought.
  86. 86. Time // why? // fire // hate // Our clients Because the competition wants to destroy them don’t have Consumers want to ignore them And still, they have the audacity to think they can win time. Because our clients have Fire. So do we. 86 But our clients don't have that luxury. Because the competition wants to destroy them, consumers want to ignore them, and still, they have the incredible audacity to think they can win.
  87. 87. Time // why? // fire // hate // Fire is having no time or money to waste … and understanding that wasting either means we lose relationships … or our clients fail Fire is recognizing ideas are hugely important, but… What’s … gaining alignment, iterating and validating ideas is even more crucial Fire? … getting ideas to market now, so they can start addressing business problems is vital … and getting this intense process completed fast and right without spending lots of time and money is something no one wants you to think is possible 87 Fire is: having no time or money to waste and for us to understand what happens if we waste either. Fire is recognizing the importance of those ideas everyone talks about - but gaining alignment, iterating and validating ideas and getting them to market now, is even more important. Fire is the fact that getting everything done fast and right is, for our clients and us, an everyday occurrence.
  88. 88. From one cluttered map to another 88 With Two Weeks to Truth and Clients with Fire, we could easily segment the marketplace and immediately go after more of the kinds of businesses that would get the most out of us. For instance, we have a long history of success with Northcastle Partners - they're a VC firm - and they hate wasting money and time and not moving the needle. So should we be focusing our efforts toward venture capital and Private Equity firms?
  89. 89. Denver 89 This is a Google Maps search for “Venture Capital, Denver." Lots of those guys.
  90. 90. Boulder 90 Here's the same search for Boulder, a thirty minute drive from our office. Nice, right?
  91. 91. Los Angeles 91 Los Angeles. Tons of VCs and P/E firms.
  92. 92. Chicago 92 Chicago. Again, great market.
  93. 93. New York 93 New York.You can see why we got excited about our new positioning. But that was all theory. What would real business people say about our deck? Well, we asked.
  94. 94. What they told us (no free food needed) 94 I sent our new Fire deck to Greg Post, senior VP at Cricket Wireless and a friend of a friend. Greg had just finished spending six months brokering a $300 million deal with Sprint.
  95. 95. "I really like your strategy doc. It's the most results oriented, focused, sense of urgency presentation I've seen from companies in your space. Others seem to be more conceptual and esoteric. You're spot on." 95 Paul Colletta is a Manhattan-based business consultant who works with brands like Jamba Juice, Chiquita and others. Paul's led Xylem Digital to a number of opportunities in the past, but he's no pushover.
  96. 96. "It is really good. I like the tone and the message. It conveys confidence and passion." 96 Just last week, our friend Cindy Kenyon got feedback from Don Carroll, ex-CMO of Radio Shack and Cindy Hennessy, of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. These next slides sum up what they said:
  97. 97. "The overwhelming response was that they really did like the fire theme and the brand voice/confidence..." 97
  98. 98. "...they said it caught their attention and grabbed them by the throat..." 98
  99. 99. "...and they LOVED that this positioning places the client front and center in all that you do." 99
  100. 100. THS SPCH S OLY HAF FNSHD So what happens once you've gone through your own version of what I've outlined here today? Once you've taken on the mind numbing, blood boiling, “what if we broke through” experience of finding your truth - and communicating it. Well I can tell you what should happen.You should be invited to an all-you-can-eat success buffet.You should see nodding instead of shaking when you speak to clients and would-be clients.Your hair, or scalp as the case may be, should look incredible.
  101. 101. MUCH MORE______________? You should get much more blank. Whatever blank is to you. Whatever you put on that list we made in the beginning. So, we'll see - we believe Clients with Fire will catch, in fact, new business is already starting to show an increase - could be the economy, could be the brand, could be the confidence that came from creating the brand. One thing's for certain, having a story that's half-written feels a lot better than that old blank page. Thank you so much.