By Saul Morse, VP, Multichannel Integration, Palio

There is no doubt that the iPad has made a profound impact on the technological landscape in the last two years. While the concept of a tablet had been discussed and tried by various companies, no one really captivated the market until Apple hit one out of the park. Rewind to 30 months ago and the craze seemed to be the netbook…as soon as the iPad hit the shelves the netbook industry disappeared almost overnight. Between the iPhone and the iPad the entire way we look at consuming digital information has dramatically changed.

So when we announced we were purchasing iPads for the entire staff of Palio it was received with a giant chorus of “cool.” While iPads were already proliferating throughout the halls, we wanted to formalize its presence and embrace this revolutionary piece of technology with open arms. In doing so we not only better position our teams to become thought leaders but give them a tool to help them do their job better, work more efficiently, and discover cool new things.

Now many companies are quick to point out why they shouldn’t embrace iPads in the organization. They’re a security risk, they cost too much to add onto the cost of an employee’s existing computer, how do you refresh when a new model comes out each year, how do you manage them, etc. We knew we had to think about this, but the bottom line is our clients are using them and our clients customers are also. So rather than focusing on the reasons we shouldn’t do it, we focused on the reasons we should. By making Palio an iPad culture we can help identify the unique opportunities afforded by these devices, and in general have it become integral to our company DNA.

We’ve encouraged our teams to sign up for the app store using their own AppleID so it becomes a blend of personal and professional and given new iPad users an iTunes gift card to go and experiment with various apps. We’re bringing in specialists from Apple to train on the basics and then building a series of roundtables led by champions across the organization on function specific topics. For instance an upcoming roundtable will highlight some of the creative apps available in the marketplace and how to use them for sketching, sharing, wireframing, app design, etc. Other roundtables will focus on video, notes, presentations and many more as time goes on.

Our clients are constantly asking about iOS devices and how they can be used in this highly regulated industry and by building an army of highly motivated, smart, creative people we will position ourselves to be at the forefront of the discussion. It’s already happening that there will be group of people will be in a strategy meeting together and when an idea comes up someone will say “I saw something similar…check it out” and within seconds it is being shared on one of the AppleTV equipped conference room monitors.

So will having an iPad alone make you a better thinker? Absolutely not. But by creating a culture open to sharing, discovering, and thinking in a technological way you can bet that this simple pane of glass will be a big contributor to our daily lives.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

by Paul Johnson, SVP, Managing Director of client Services, Palio

If you work in an agency environment, one of the big bits of conventional wisdom you learn, early on, is that clients don’t generally like change. And if you work on the client side, there’s a corollary that changes in your agency team are almost never a good thing.

Conventional wisdom is easy to rattle off because… well, it’s conventional. But is it wisdom? There’s plenty of evidence that rotating team members is a good thing.

It brings a fresh perspective. Just like clients, sometimes members of an agency team can get too close to the product or service being promoted. This is especially true on large accounts, where writers, publicists and other mid-level personnel may be working for a single client on a full-time basis. Yes, swapping in new personnel means spinning new people up on the account’s worldview, challenges and opportunities – but it also means new ideas – and many more chances for the sort of “Aha!” moments that can move a marketing program forward by leaps and bounds

It prevents rock-star syndrome. There’s always a delicate balance in agency-client relationships. On the agency side, we want to deliver great, remarkable results – the kind that demonstrate, every day, that no one can serve our client better than we can. On the other hand, all that service cannot rely on a single rock star employee – whether it’s someone who knows the industry better than his or her peers or someone who simply “gets” the client’s concerns at a deep level.

Everyone likes rock stars – but what happens when they have a falling out with the client? Or want to continue their career elsewhere? Or just come to you one day wanting a change of pace? Rotating fresh talent into client teams – from the beginning and as part of the mutually understood dynamic of the agency/client relationship – largely inoculates you from the rock-star conundrum. Clients win because their projects and ongoing results become robust and resilient, less dependent on a single individual. And agencies win because staffing disruptions, which happen in even the best and most stable organizations, don’t hurt client results.

It helps build a farm team. Today’s account executive, fresh to the industry and persistently busy putting together tactical plans in the back room, is potentially tomorrow’s vice president, responsible for millions of dollars in billings and game-changing results for clients. It’s in everyone’s interest – client and agency alike — for him or her to get out of the back room and get some experience.

Granted, some clients are wary of having new, inexperienced personnel on their account – note the phrasing there: New and inexperienced. Savvy agency managers are also great coaches, constantly building up their staff’s skills with gradual, managed increases in responsibility. Showing your client that this type of ongoing training and growth are part of your culture – and part of what helps you deliver results – goes a long way to alleviating concerns.

In the end, the advantages of a planned rotation of talent outweigh the potential downsides for all concerned. Clients need to consider the potential that new perspectives can bring, and agency managers need to think beyond a reflexive worry that all change is bad.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

 

by Guy Mastrion, Chief Global Creative Officer, Palio

Some of the many things we tend to do with our global creative raves is to always try to bring fresh voices into the room, find fresh locations, tear down barriers and fail rapidly through hundreds of ideas until we succeed. And then, with a smaller portion of the group actively debating and editing the ideas, we push harder and deeper until we arrive at a set of discreet ideas. This is a lot of heavy lifting for the people involved, and one of the key aspects of making brainstorming work is to create a safe environment that encourages the rapid failure and spontaneity needed to spark fresh ideas.

But also there has to be a method to the madness.

Critical thinking is essential to success. An open critique that pressure tests the ideas through effective moderation of a strategic discussion is always needed. Effective critique is a lost art. Too often misunderstood and mislabeled as negative thinking, critique – when understood and harnessed as essential to the evaluation and elevation of ideas – plays a key role in all aspects of business, not just ideation. If the groups are a relatively small (10-15 people), then I think open critique can be effectively moderated. If your group is bigger than this, select a smaller, cross-sectional subgroup as your critical thinkers.

When brainstorming fails, when ideation fails, they can fail for countless reasons, many more reasons than those that exist to support why they succeed. There is a fine balance that is very difficult to maintain. Ideas are fragile things that are often doomed before they even begin to live due to the many, ultimately oppressive things an idea must overcome.

Some of the more common bailey wicks include briefs that are unclear, with too many objectives or key communication thoughts, making it near impossible to judge the success of any given idea. This problem is a sure sign the brief has become a parking lot for failure.

Ideas can also suffer from a lack of alignment across team members, where personal bias and opinion, no matter how worthy or potentially insightful, conflict with the tenets of the brief (assuming you have a solid brief).

Ideas also suffer from their own complexity, or I should say from becoming more complex. In a brainstorming session, it is easy to lose the big ideas.

Let me explain. Big ideas very often at first seem quite small and are easily overlooked. A word and a picture, one or the other, sitting alone on a big white sheet of paper can be the most fearsome of ideas. Other ideas, by comparison, can seem bigger at first because they have more going on they seem more dynamic, when in fact, they may simply be loaded down with what amounts to little more than window dressing. These are complexities and complex ideas most often have much less ability to be plastic. What do I mean by plastic? It’s the ability to be moldable, to move with your brand, and more important with how your consumer perceives, experiences, and ever more – communicates with your brand. So, the thought of big ideas being plastic is something to keep in mind – this is just one word to help describe a potentially big idea. It’s not the only word. The point is that a simple idea is an elegant solution. The simple idea – the big idea – is an idea that grows in meaning, depth, and definition the more it is used. When we work up a potentially big idea through our 360 worksheet, it is not limited by this exercise, but is expanded as a result of it. Lesser ideas reveal their vulnerabilities as a result of this exercise.

Ernest Hemingway said something about writing that I think applies to all creativity, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

Coming up with the big idea is not easy, nor is it any easier to recognize the big idea when you see it. This is one less obvious reason why time is such an important factor in creativity. The big idea might be the first idea you come up with, but it might also take days of ideation to see its true value.

If we approach our every day as a brainstorm, days lived without fear of being “wrong,” where failure is understood as part of a larger success – working together – we would more easily and consistently craft work of lasting value.

Highly functioning, idea-driven companies are built on this culture. They also have discipline and order and process and financial goals, but those things are all used to support the creation of a great product and not as rate limiting factors. When these instruments of any successful business become the business itself, then no manner of ideation will ever be truly and consistently successful.

In the end, culture trumps strategy, process, execution, and ideation. Even the most skillful and creative brainstorm session will fail to deliver success if the culture of the company (or teams involved) is not built on an open mind with complete alignment on the goal to be achieved.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

 

 

by Maureen Wendell, VP, Account Services, Palio

Put a physician, a pharmaceutical expert and a sociologist together in a room, get them talking about their work, and you’ll eventually come around to something everyone has an opinion on: compliance.

The physician might bemoan how, for lack of patient compliance, millions of people suffer long-term health degradation and shorter life expectancies. The pharmaceutical expert can probably bring data to the discussion, talking about how there are endless studies correlating certain types of information and patient education to better long-term compliance.

The sociologist? She just smiles and says: “People are going to act like people. You might want to leverage that.”

Compliance is the big win-win issue for pharma – crack the code, patients have better outcomes while marketers sell more product. But broadly boosting compliance – especially with social media and marketing tools – often becomes a game of gizmos. This product has an app, that product has a web portal, etc.

Good stuff, but it’s ultimately window dressing that doesn’t get to the heart of compliance. For that, we need the sociologist’s insight. “People are going to act like people,” means several things for compliance:

Community builds compliance. Physicians – even trusted ones – are a lot like newspapers for many patients. They get information from a physician, but they form their opinions about what’s important through interactions with trusted peers.

These interactions have lots of opinions, lots of shades of gray and are very unlike the cut-and-dried information that comes from physicians or other medical providers. And while that’s certainly a cause for concern among medical professionals who want to make sure the right information is conveyed, one fact remains: People most strongly believe the stories they tell themselves.

So, the role of community in compliance is to give them a place where they can find those trusted peers, bounce their thoughts around, and know that they are not alone. It’s a strategy that’s worked for many compliance-intensive medical treatments and conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and lap-band surgeries.

A community is more than a Web forum. The sociologist would probably also tell her companions that communities – going as far back as civilization – have a few common rules. Successful communities have onboarding processes – ways that new members can learn the formal and informal rules without stubbing their toes along the way. Communities also recognize and celebrate the wisdom of “elders” – people known to provide value and wisdom over time – and generally make it known what behavior is celebrated, as well as what is not tolerated. Finally, communities recognize that there are both public and private conversations, and have provisions for both. None of those things are particularly hard to implement in a Web or social-media environment, but they’re often treated as afterthoughts – when in fact they are the heart of the community-building infrastructure.

Your app? It’s not that big a deal. The flip side of how compliance and community fit together is that, if community is of great importance, then the tools are just that – tools. Make them user friendly and, yes, make them fully social. But the big strategy behind your app should be how it connects users to a community of compliance. Because the community will provide far more positive reinforcement and, ultimately, greater compliance, than a standalone tool on a tablet or smart phone.

Getting to the win-win of broad, self-reinforcing compliance for pharma marketers is a big job, with a seat at the table for everyone from marketing to PR to the social media director and the advertising team. But also save a seat – if only symbolically – for the sociologist. And for people acting like people.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

by Mike Myers, President, Palio

It’s a week out since my departure and I’ve been asking myself that question since I stepped on the plane home.

According to their own press, “The South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences and Festivals offer the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery.”

Focused on the interactive portion of the conference, I had a great time. It was an engaging experience. I learned and relearned things in multiple areas that will help me and help us help our clients be stronger in the market.

It was not, however, filled with any mind blowing, my socks are off type moments filled with new discoveries.

From what I know of previous events, SXSW often sits at the epicenter of evolving technologies that quickly spread from the conference through the digital messiahs who attend.

Twitter and Foursquare are two examples. Apple even created a pop up store to sell the iPad2 in 2011 in order to capitalize on the tech guru mob in Austin.

Don’t get me wrong. There was engaging dialog on: mobile technologies, location based services, the ever changing digital landscape, augmented reality, hacking the Microsoft Kinect, yadda, yadda, yadda.

It was fascinating. It wasn’t groundbreaking.

My thoughts on what I did learn were covered in a prior post on our blog.

In retrospect, the biggest thing I learned may have been that the “next big thing” is still yet to come. In the interim, we better continue to get smarter with the incredible innovations that we just haven’t maximized to the point of extinction yet.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

Todd LaRoche, EVP, Managing Director of Creative, Palio

Just last summer, Hyper Island brought their brains to Saratoga Springs and about 50 of us Palio folks devoured every minute of their Hyper Island Master Class – an intensive 3-day immersion into digital media and strategy development.

If you’ve never heard of Hyper Island, take a look at their Web site. In a nutshell, Hyper Island is a Swedish-based, global learning leader that helps companies “stay up to date with the latest trends in interactive media…” and “fully understand how to create efficiency within [their] organization.”

There was a lot of excitement and anticipation leading up to Hyper Island’s visit, and once they got here, things took off quickly. The three days we spent with the Hyper Island team had an immediate and lasting influence on our organization; one that is paying great dividends in terms of how we’re engaging our clients and how we’re structuring and managing our Agency resources and overall growth.

Overall, and among other things, the Hyper Island training has helped us:

• Identify ways we can jumpstart our digital thinking on any given brand,

• Brainstorm digital tactics as part of an integrated, 360-degree media plan, not simply as “add-ons,”

• Bring more depth to our strategic thinking,

• Attain a higher-level understanding of the Web and digital media,

• Wield practical tools that have helped us to better understand the interrelationships of social media and traditional media and bridge the two.

Here’s what some folks were saying once the training was underway. Following are a few post-Hyper Island learnings/observations.

Going Digital – It’s a Frame of Mind

One of the most important things we learned from our Hyper Island experience is that no one group or individual should, or can, own digital strategy and deployment. Today, no one can escape the grasp of digital (screen-based) technology, and no brand can ignore the power of social media as a communications conduit. Digital/social media is ubiquitous and it has to be something that all of us – in creative, account, planning, media and production – leverages and shapes in each of our brand engagements. In other words, everyone is, to some degree, an expert in digital communication because it impacts all of us constantly. And that leads to the realization that smart digital thinking can come from anywhere in the Agency – it’s a frame of mind, not a skill to which some siloed, techno-savvy group lays claim.

Fundamental Shifts

The furious growth of digital/social media has spurred some fundamental shifts in the marketing world, and these shifts, at a macro-level, need to be understood and embraced in order for any marketing or advertising agency to stay competitive. Here are some randomly related thoughts/learnings from our Master Class that capture this (and check out this footage of folks talking about their experience after the training):

• Digital technology is now allowing for content-based marketing strategies, designed to “pull” rather than “push” brand awareness and messaging, to become the rule rather than the exception

• Digital/social media has put never-before-seen power into the customer’s hands

• Having a digital footprint is essential to brand survival

• Marketing is now very much about conversations… and brands need to partake

• Don’t always be a slave to the big idea… thinking tactically first, in some cases, can be the best way to meet a specific marketing challenge

How Is Palio Different After The Island’s Visit?

In fundamental ways, Palio hasn’t changed at all: we’re still an idea company, we’re still all about connecting brands and consumers. But how we go about that has changed in places. Here are just a few examples of how the Hyper Island experience has brought change to Palio:

Now, when we present campaign concepts to our clients, we include what we call a 360-degree Worksheet. It’s a way for us to develop and present our creative thinking in the context of media channels, traditional and digital alike. If an idea doesn’t easily spawn executions around the media horn, it’s probably not something we’ll want to pursue.

We took what we were calling our Incubator, or our digital production group, and eliminated its name as a formal reference. This has served to help break down lines of distinction between digital and non-digital work teams. And though this might sound like an academic change, it has actually gone a long way to promote an efficient and homogenous work environment whereby all of us in the company, not just those in the “Incubator,” are engaged in developing digital strategy and tactics.

As well, we centralized our multichannel production services in the Project Management group and shifted our role definition of Project Managers to Producers. And we evolved the title of our Digital Strategists to, simply, Brand Strategists. Again, it’s pretty amazing how these rather academic-sounding changes have served to unify the company in a media-agnostic fashion.

We looked at our own brand’s digital footprint and made it bigger and more robust. In part, that included creating a new Website and deploying a more focused and active SEO strategy across all of our social media outlets, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr. We also developed a pharmaceutical app wiki called Pharmapps. Right now we’re building the mobile app for it.

We founded our Social Media Council – a committee of cross-functional roles that is tapping people across the organization to help expand our brand’s awareness and develop messaging to potential clients and employees as well as industry watchdogs.

Internally, we’re using Facebook and Yammer more and more for various closed-group communications. That shift has created a more dialogue-driven type of thinking and behavior across our organization… one that also brings a more immediate sense of involvement among team members. How much longer will office e-mail be around?

In a nutshell, Hyper Island was a brilliant rallying cry that brought our organization a new focus on digital media and strategy. Check out the video here/above to get a sense of how inspiring the entire event was for us. In some respects, it was a reaffirmation of what we already knew: digital media is not rocket science, and since we’re not trying to put our clients’ brands on the moon, that’s a good thing. We’re still here to put our clients’ brands into the hearts and minds of the consumer, which digital media can help us with in more effective ways than anything we’ve seen in the past. As Guy Mastrion, Palio’s Chief Creative Officer, says in the video, “Now it’s just a matter of aligning the opportunities and the resources with the right clients.”

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

by Paul Johnson, SVP, Managing Director, Account Services

In our “Client vs. Agency” series, we’ve looked at the differing views that can be taken regarding time,  money,  expectationscollaborationcreativity and getting started. I’m here now to give you some hidden secrets to a successful partnership.

Plan. No, more than just plan. Plan, plan and plan some more after that. And then, if you think you haven’t done enough, you’re still right. Agency leads must know the vacation schedules of their teams, they must know the contact information for everyone involved in the project, they must have already budgeted time and funds to prepare for every event that there’s foreknowledge of, and they must have done scenario planning with the client in case of the three likeliest crises they may confront. And those are just for starters. Clients aren’t off the hook on this one, either: Clients need to plan just as much.  Like, for instance, make sure you’re not asking for next year’s budget at 4:55 p.m. Friday?

Ask the right questions. This makes it possible for parties to do all that planning properly. Nobody’s going to always remember to keep you in the loop if you don’t ask. You need to insert yourself into the discussions sometimes. You’re going to have to be prepared to pound the pavement to find out what the future holds.

Remember the “partner” in partnership. This isn’t a dry-cleaning service we’re talking about here; it’s your creative partner in the most important projects of your professional life. Your work with your agency isn’t a series of brief transactions separated by lengthy periods of non-communication. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be if you want it to be anything like successful. This is going to sound a little Dr. Phil, but it’s true nonetheless: You both need to be present for each other.

And as a corollary to thattrust. Clients need to believe in their agencies. They need to trust that they made the right decision in hiring people to provide strategic recommendations and tactical accomplishments. If they don’t do it, then you need to address that – but make it possible for them to give it their best shot. Agencies also need to trust their clients. It can be very easy to become jaded and think that you know what your client will say before it’s said. Don’t let the times you’ve been shot down before make you not want to try anymore.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

Peter Hopper, Sr Dir, Integrated Client Services, Palio

Couldn’t sleep last night, so I ended up reading an article on my iPad that asked the question: mobile Web site or mobile app? I know. I had options, but it popped up in my RSS feed.

The article (published in RAIN, the Radio and Internet Newsletter) was a brief review of a column written by Jakob Nielsen, a Web usability expert, for AlertBox. Nielsen is predicting a strategic shift, based on his research on how end-users use their mobile devices. He claims that, hands down, the mobile app currently beats the mobile Web site from a user-performance perspective. But, in time, that will change.

The driving factor is the user-experience environment. It’s not news that the desktop and laptop real estate, computing power and user-interactivity (keystroking, mouse and track pad precision and functionality, etc) currently overwhelm the smart phone and tablet. And that is the point: the mobile device requires the smarter optimization gained by creating an app, while Web site optimization for the mobile device is currently limited. This smarter optimization makes the mobile app a better user experience. “An app can target the specific limitations and abilities of each individual device much better than a Web site can while running inside a browser,” states Nielsen.

But we are approaching a crossroads. The app benefit may indeed be short-lived. One factor: the expense of developing mobile apps will likely increase. Currently, the primary mobile app platforms are Android, iOS and Windows Phone. But these platforms are sub-dividing, iOS for iPhone and iPad, Android for smartphones and the Kindle Fire, for example: separate apps required for unique user experiences per mobile environment. Development technology, again, will likely step up to help alleviate some of this cost burden. But there are other factors, as well, including e-commerce and richer content that favor the mobile Web site, down the road.

What’s at risk? Letting your audience down.

Turning the corner, new Web technologies like HTML5 will drive better mobile site capabilities and user experiences. Add the benefit of a richer integration with the Web via a mobile site than within a mobile app.

When will this predicted strategic shift take place? Great question. No clear answer on the immediate horizon according to Nielsen. We know HTML5 and other Web technologies are advancing rapidly. However, the take-away from this discussion is recognizing the balance and the compromise when building your digital recommendations for your clients in the mobile environment, helping them understand that there is indeed a shift on the horizon, the unique implications of what and why you consider development options, and helping them evaluate the best road to take.

I hope this didn’t put you to sleep, but I did rest better last night after becoming a little more enlightened.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

 

Meleik Goodwill, PhD, Medical Director, Palio

The Federal Centers for Disease Control released its first iPad App, rated by iSnoops.com as “Hot,” with 4.5-stars.  This app specifically enabled for iPads was created with the recognition that more and more people are using mobile technology to search for health information. Industry experts rate the app so positively due to the breadth of information offered and the instaneous nature of the updates, a feature important during times of public health crisis, such as during a flu pandemic.

The CDC’s leap into mobile health gives iPad users touchpad access to the organization’s real-time health updates, blogs and podcasts, these tabs include:

  • Newsroom features the latest health news from the CDC Newsroom. From this tab you can access current and archived press releases, media advisories, and press briefing transcripts
  • Public Health Matters Blog: Here CDC bloggers share their passion for public health, its evolution, and the continual strides that are being made to protect and save lives through education, awareness, research, and promoting healthy lifestyles.
  • CDC podcasts: Listen to CDC podcasts on your iPad for reliable health and safety information when and where you want it. The tab links to CDC’s vast library of audio and video podcasts.

Over 50,000 pages of content can be accessed through tabs for general health-related information:

  • Health Articles  written by subject matter experts and health communicators from all CDC centers and programs.
  • Vital Signs offers recent data on important public health issues. Topics include: colorectal and breast cancer screening; obesity; alcohol and tobacco use; access to health care; HIV testing; seat belt use; cardiovascular disease and more.
  • Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) Journal is a peer-reviewed electronic journal established to address the interface between applied public health research, practice, and policy.

Mindful of users desire to network, the app provides a conduit to share:

  • Stay Connected: Follow CDC by tapping on tabs for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. By accessing CDC’s social media through the iPad, users can view important information on health topics and events throughout the year.

The CDC App is free for anyone to download. If you have an iPad, tap directly on the icon for the iTunes App store. At the top right of the page, type CDC iPad App in the search box. You will be taken to a page where you can download the CDC App. (Look for the app with the CDC logo.) You can read more about it at CDC Mobile iPad Application on CDC’s web site or on PharmApps.

This is not the CDC’s first venture in mobile technology. In addition to it’s own site being mobile-optimized for more than two years, the agency continues to offer cash awards for developers to create technology-enabled ways to augment its public health efforts by developing apps for flu and other conditions. Read more: CDC is looking for a few good flu apps.

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

 

Paul Johnson, SVP, Managing Director, Account Services, Palio

“The day you sign a new client is the day you start losing them.”

Fictional ad men Don Draper and Roger Sterling (from the AMC drama Mad Men) cautiously celebrate a new client win by agreeing that the beginning of a client engagement is often the start of the end. Still, relationships matter – even those that are destined for separation at some undefined moment in the future.

At Palio, we appreciate the longevity of our client relationships. But even good relationships can meet an untimely demise because things change. Reorganizations, mergers, takeovers, downsizing and economic circumstances can impact even the best relationships. In other cases, the relationship was destined to be short term – for a project, a season or to achieve a specific business goal.

Breaking up is hard to do, especially when it’s not the result of dissatisfaction with work product or team members. But, since goodbyes are destined to occur, it’s important to have a strategy that supports a graceful exit and keeps your reputation intact. Properly managing a departing client can be as important as attracting new ones and how you handle that transition can determine future success.

Good manners prevail. While it seems simple, remember to say “thank you for your business.” The relationship has contributed to the betterment of your company – perhaps you made connections with new resources, learned a different facet of an industry, developed a capability you didn’t have before or simply kept the lights on. People may not remember what you’ve said or done, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.

Maintain status of professionalism. If you’re parting under less than stellar circumstances, keep your emotions at bay. Stay the course and be as professional as you were the day the relationship commenced. How you handle challenges and difficulties can say a lot about your strengths and character. Today you’re saying goodbye, but who’s to know when your paths will cross again?

Facilitate a smooth hand-off. A commitment to excellence in a partnership means you leave each other in a better position than when you started. In our knowledge-based economy that requires a plan for knowledge transfer so the client can maintain business momentum after you depart. Provide clients with pertinent files, ask what format they’d like them in, and do what you can to ensure they’ll be put to good use.

Keep the lines of communication open. A substantial amount of communication about performance and deliverables took place at the start of the engagement. Ending a relationship requires that same level of communication. Find out what you can do to make the transition easier as well as ways to improve your own performance.

Many times, clients return to former partners for the same reason they leave – circumstances change. If you’ve let go gracefully and leave them with the impression you’re a class act, you might be able to take advantage of future opportunities and continue the relationship at another point in time.

What are your tips for successfully moving on?

Palio is an advertising agency revolutionizing pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing to create experiences that will Never Be Forgotten.

 

© 2011 Palio.com