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Never Stop Learning

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs conference which was held in Chicago. This was my fourth year attending the conference and it’s a great event, besides the fact that I’m black and an entrepreneur there’s numerous reasons why attending a conference like this one is extremely beneficial. The connections made with other entrepreneurs and professionals, the professional development, and the opportunity to charge your batteries and be inspired by other individuals who are in the trenches like yourself is priceless, and all of these benefits can help you generate more revenue.   Any entrepreneur with common sense understands the importance of building their professional network because after all you network is going to determine your net worth. A conference such as this is networking on steroids thousands of professionals who you have a chance to meet face to face have in depth conversations and discover synergies. If you attempted to meet the same amount of professionals on your own it would take a lifetime at a conference you can accomplish this in a few days. In addition you can make higher level connections that would be difficult to make otherwise. I’ve met and made serious connections with C-Suite executives that have dramatically changed the trajectory of our business at conferences. These are individuals that if I cold called them, or emailed I would never get through.  I’ve also met other professionals who’ve become great partners enhancing the services we’re able to offer to customers, and on a personal level I’ve met a lot of good people who’ve become good friends.

Entrepreneurs are like teenagers; exuberant, enthusiastic, willing to take chances, and think they know everything.  In actuality we don’t and you need to have a commitment to professional development that will allow you to grow and take your business to the next level.  At Highbrid we have that commitment and its evident by the in house workshops that we run every Monday but again it would take a million Mondays and a million workshops to duplicate the level of professional development afforded to you by attending the sessions, panel discussions, and workshops a conference has to offer over the course of a few days. These panel discussions and workshops can provide invaluable information that you otherwise would have never known, such as ways to secure financing, how to use technology to enhance your business, how to franchise your business, building an exit plan to sell your business. You can also discover emerging trends and technology in business that you’ll be able to add making a difference in your bottom line.  For me as a principal of Highbrid it’s important that I bring these findings and  newly learned approaches share them with my staff and  begin implementing those they make sense for the growth of the company.  Highbrid has been able to develop proven strategies through information we learned by taking professional development seriously, part of that is attending conferences.

Depending on the size of a particular conference or trade show you can have upwards of 10,000+ participants including vendors, sponsors, and event staff, you have the opportunity to meet all types of people. If it’s a gathering of professionals in your industry or in this case other business owners it can be a very invigorating, and inspiring to meet some of these people. In your professional life at times you get very entrenched from day to day can develop tunnel vision to the rest of world and possibilities around it so it’s great to be able to meet different professionals from different parts of the country or globe. Typically they’re dealing with some of the same issues as you and could help provide insight on how to approach these issues.

Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs conference is one of several events that Highbrid Media’s staff attends throughout the year including Ad Week NY, B.E. Golf and Tennis Challenge, CETW conference for Digital Signage professionals and other conferences, trade shows and events. The connections made, professional development attained, and some of the great personalities we’ve had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by has been more than worth the time and resources and has had a direct positive impact on our bottom line.

Daniel Gutzmore Comment

conferences, BlACK Enterprise, Professional Development, HIGHBRID MEDIA, Adweek


Give Them What they Ask For but Not Really

AMC’s new reality series “The Pitch” has been one of the many topics of discussion at Highbrid Media HQ this week, as I’m sure it has been amongst other advertising professionals and agencies. If you’re not familiar it’s AMC’s attempt to bring you a modern day behind the scenes (reality) look at what it takes to be Sterling Cooper Draper Price the agency from there critically acclaimed drama Mad Men.  Two ad Agencies go head to head for large notable accounts that for some of the agencies will be another feather in their cap allowing them to add a strong case study to the portfolio and secure future business in that sector, and for other agencies is the difference between the agency staying open or having to close its doors. Overall I like the show so far, probably because I’ve worked in the industry for the greater part of my professional career, so it’s intriguing to see it played out in a reality series drama even though it’s a simplified cliff note version of what really goes on.

Probably the most genuine part of the show is when the agencies are being briefed by the clients on what they’re looking for in bringing on a new agency of record. This includes everything from what they want in an agency, if they're hiring the agency for a specific project or product line, what they’re looking for in a campaign, target demographic, and preferred mediums and techniques for delivering the message. This needs analysis or discovery as it’s sometimes called is very important to any campaign; it’s the client telling you exactly what they want for their brand and how they want it to be portrayed. W/O this briefing it’s impossible to confidently pick a direction for the campaign that is going to make your client happy and produce the results everyone involved desires.

Often times during the discovery period a client will use “buzzwords” like: new, innovative, cutting edge, social media, viral, mobile and the list goes on and on. They’ll tell you to push the envelope, be creative. They’ll say things like “The Company is moving in another direction and we want this campaign to reflect that” or “the reason we brought you in here is b/c your company is known for its creativity and out of the box thinking that’s exactly what we need.” The mistake that a lot of us make including some of the agencies featured in “The Pitch” is that they take those words literally and go so far to the left that it takes the clients out of there comfort zone, they call it comfort zone for a reason.

I know what you’re thinking “don’t you give the client exactly what they’re asking for? “ The answer: It’s complicated. Most companies/people are copycats the reason why they copy is b/c it’s comforting to know that someone else has already done it and were relatively successful w/o too much discomfort and avoiding disaster. So when a multimillion dollar company tells you "We want to be cutting edge" what they really mean is our competitor took a chance on a wacky new idea and did well give us a wacky new idea that’ll work well too!

Also as was displayed in the premier episode in large companies the decisions are rarely made by one person it’s usually a group of managers, executives, board members who make decisions as a collective. So although the one board member or executive invited you in and delivered the message to you about being new and innovative, if the rest of the decision makers are more conservative or traditional following that one person’s instructions can spell your demise. In the double premier episodes of “The Pitch” similar type instructions were given to the competing agencies by Waste Management and Subway who were the clients in each episode. In both instances the agency with the more creative, envelope pushing ideas lost.

It’s our job as advertising Mad Men to find that happy medium were a client feels like you’re agency is bringing something new and creative to the table that they feel will be effective and hit the target market, but not so new and over the top creative that they feel like a guinea pig in some agency experiment. How do you go about doing this, as a wise man once told me: “The Game is to be sold, not to be told”

Daniel Gutzmore Comment



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