If You Want to be the Expert, Act Like It

Back in the waning days of TV agency dominance, Kurt Karlenzig — a smart digital co-worker — discussed the ideal posture for anyone trying to drive digital adoption among clients:

You don’t want to be too far ahead, they’ll lose interest. But you can’t be behind them; they’ll resent or ignore you. The best position is just slightly ahead, leading but still accessible.”

That’s great advice for any relationship with a client. Clients hire us to add value, to provide informed, experienced points of view that they lack. In today’s hyper-fragmented media environment, the best clients realize they can’t be experts in all things, so they turn to partners like us to advice and educate them.

This is why we must agree upon a recommendation in every creative meeting.

When we leave that decision to the client, we position ourselves as vendors, just selling whatever they’ll buy. That’s irresponsible. Instead, we must be the experts, the advisors who have lived with the challenge, developing various solutions and a more informed perspective.

If we want to sell the best solution to clients, we must tell them what we think it is.


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