By: Austin LaRoche
"90% of success is showing up." - Woody Allen
I recently had a client come to me with a problem. Days prior, I had suggested to him that we do a post across his social media channels highlighting work he did with one of his clients, tagging them and showing them how much he appreciated their business. He loved the idea at the time, but after discussing the situation with some older colleagues in his industry, he was reconsidering.
"If I showcase my partners, I'm worried that competitors may poach my clients."
He had a valid point. All businesses, regardless of the line of work, have competitors. His company does promotional marketing, and in many cases, customers are all about one thing: the lowest price.
"Well, what is your value proposition?" I asked him.se
He didn't hesitate. "First and foremost, customer service. I hand-deliver my orders when they are local, I pay extreme attention to detail with every client."
"Can I get a t-shirt with ATAK's logo on it somewhere cheaper?" I replied.
"Sure, but you're not going to get the --"
I interrupted him. "Exactly. You're not the cheapest guy on the market. But you genuinely care about about your customers and would do anything to make an order right. They feel it. You have to trust that feeling."
"Okay," said Brian Kim, CEO of Hoopla Promo.
I love working with business owners like Brian. If you work at a digital agency and want to know what a great client looks like, check out Brian Kim of Hoopla Promo. Pitch him your business. Give it your best shot. Promise him the moon and discount him until you've obliterated your entire margin.
I offer this challenge because I don't fear losing Brian's business. I understand he could get the work cheaper. He knows he can get the work cheaper. But smart businesses realize that to move ahead with vendors, partners and clients, you must construct a strong relationship built on professional collaboration and a genuine care about one another's success.
To put it more bluntly: listen and give a damn. That's the key to B2B success, because it's the key to all relationships.
I'm very proud of the success we've had at ATAK this year. I equate every ounce of it to going deeper with our clients on a personal level. When they have big events, we show up. It doesn't matter if it's on a Saturday or requires a 5am wake-up call. We're there for them.
We were there for Dina Kimmel at Walk Now For Autism Speaks when We Rock the Spectrum sponsored the largest autism awareness event in the state of California. We were there for the Grand Opening of their new location in Woodland Hills with Jess Lofland and will continue to show up at grand openings across the country for WRTS. We make sure to go see Jen and Jason at Pin-Up Golf each month at their biggest fundraising tournaments. When the talented young artist, Charles Gitnick opened his first gallery at Townley Gallery, we fought through 405 traffic and got down to Laguna for it. Heck, we even crashed a wedding recently to see DJ Andrew from Get in the Groove Entertainment in Spanish Hills.
We will keep showing up, because we've invested ourselves in Dina's, Jennifer's, Andrew's, Charles's, and Brian's respective businesses (among many others). We care about what they do, their employees, their families, and their success.
But here's the thing, and if you're an up-and-coming agency or just beginning in a B2B field, take out your notepad and write this down....
The care that we give to our clients is constantly dictated by our actions and not just our words.
This business philosophy is not something you can fake. It's not a secret, in fact, you can learn these very lessons by watching the first hour of Jerry Maguire. It's just a simple cocktail of dedication, hard work, expertise in your respective field, and showing up. Cheers!
We feel very fortunate that we get to work with really amazing clients. When you work with people that run a business you believe in on both a professional and human level, it leads to a much more meaningful collaboration.
Pin-Up Golf raises money for over 200 charities a year. We Rock the Spectrum has helped thousands of special needs families by providing a place where all kids can come together and play in sensory safe environment. Hoopla Promo is giving every customer the chance to tell them which non-profit they want to donate a portion of their order towards. Charles Gitnick is an incredibly talented 12 year old expressing an anti-violence message across the country with his art. And Get in the Groove provides the soundtrack for the greatest day in people’s lives week after week. These businesses are fantastic, which makes caring, loving, and showing up for them second nature.
So fellow B2B-ers, forget the prices for a bit. Learn more about your clients and take time to listen and connect with them. And if that doesn't work, you can always try to click the links in this blog post and undercut what we're doing. Just know, these people might have a different understanding of value than you do.