In honor of Chik-fil-A releasing a new series of comics to go in their kids meals in early October, I wanted to share with you a story of love, life, and tragedy that will eternally haunt a friend of mine forever when a company he worked for put together a pitch for a Chick-fil-A comic book in July 2003. I share this with you because of the INVALUABLE lessons learned from this pitch. There are so many lessons that as you review these next 3 posts, you will inevitably stumble upon many, many secrets. I am going to be hiding many, many of these secrets in these lessons because only those who are open to receive the secrets will actually be able to capitalize on them. For those who are visionary—your eyes should be opened so wide that NOTHING will be able to stop you as you pursue your own dreams. For those who aren’t as visionary, don’t worry, I am going to spell out a specific lesson learned in each post.
Our story begins 7 years ago, with a small ad company seeking to make a name. They hired my friend to put some comics together from a few pages of a script, to sell an idea to Chick-fil-A and 3 others to make comics for them. They had one script and they reworked portions of the script to tailor it for 4 different clients–all with different artwork, different artists, but essentially the same script. The one thing they had in common is my friend who executed the project for them.
Now, my friend is probably one of the smartest people I know when it comes to marketing and advertising comic books for distribution and resale. He knows the business in and out. He is a marketing guru when it comes to the ideas of targeting a product for a particular customer or client. He told me this story because he knew while he was doing working for this company that this was the wrong approach to go to Chic-fil-A with. (We won’t go into the pitch here, but it was something along the line of pitching WarMachine Barbie to Mattel, or pitching the Chik-fil-A hot dog. It just wasn’t working.)
He ended up putting out the book as planned. Begrudgingly. At that moment, the little creative spark inside him diminshes a little more…
LESSON ONE: YOU HAVE TO EDUCATE YOUR CLIENT TO APPEAL TO YOUR CUSTOMER’S TRUE DESIRES.
I know a great number of you have been in this situation. Your client wants something done. You know it is a bad idea and you do it anyway just to cash a quick check. “This is what the client wants, it’s his dime.” So you shut up, put the nose to the grind stone, and crank out a stupid product because you’ve always been told to satisfy the client. The problem with thinking is that you are satisfying the wrong client. You do want to satisfy the client, but who really is the client…your boss? Or is it your boss’s client? Or is it the customers who will be buying your boss’s client’s products?
Obviously, if you don’t know another direction, it is not your job to do it. If you do approach your boss and your opinions and are shut down, there is nothing you can do about it. What I see too much, though, is that when you start at a company you give your opinions and are shut down so many times that you become complacent and not willing to bother offering creativity. I hope you don’t work in a place like that.
I went in to speak to a college professor a couple years ago, and I overheard another professor asking a student how she should deal with her clients. I remember this moment so profoundly because she said, “I am there to serve my client, my opinion doesn’t matter.” I was floored–and angry. I was not mad at the student. I was mad at the whole system for indoctrinating her to believing this! I kept thinking, “Why would your client hire you in the first place?” They obviously need your talent and want your influence or they would find someone else. You are unique, you are creative, you can do what no one else in the world can do.
I came across a quote the other day: “They hired my hands, they can get my brain for free!” Employers, engage your employees. One reason I believe there will be a great influx into the home based businesses is because many employers fail to realize their most valuable asset is the people you have around you. When people aren’t feeling valued, they leave. Maybe more bosses will realize this before it is too late.