Year of the Meat Cleavers

I’m happy to report that we at WilsonMcGuire Creative just completed our first year in business. To celebrate, we took our small staff to San Francisco to attend Adweek’s Creative Seminar. We heard some great speakers, had some fabulous meals and met some of the legends in our business. But I was much more intrigued by what went on outside the conference.

While in California, I got a call from one of our best clients who expressed interest in going from a monthly fee arrangement to a project-by-project basis. Another client, our largest, changed marketing directors that same week. Considering how hard we’d worked on both pieces of business and how strong the results were, we were surprised. But then, that’s the business.

Having a business is a lot like going through the haunted house at the fair. My son and I went last week. We drove through a door not knowing what lay on the other side. It was dark. And every turn brought another surprise. Toward the end of the ride, a guy wearing a hockey mask and wielding a meat cleaver chased us out of the building. As we neared the exit, my son, filled with 11-year-old bravado, turned to the man and yelled, “Bring it on.”

When a guy with a meat cleaver is gaining on you, things can get a little scary. But it occurs to me that that guy is always after us – and our clients. We all face dangers in our businesses – in the form of competitors, corporate restraints, diversity (or lack thereof), internal strife, personnel issues and limited budgets.

Our job is to keep the meat cleaver as far from our clients (and our business) as we can. Our weapons? Strategic thinking, compelling creative communications, aggressive cost control and a constant new business effort. (Not to mention an amazingly effective scream.) But those weapons alone are not enough. We also have to have the right motivation. And in our business that motivation is passion.

When you love what you do, you work harder to find the right solution for your clients. You don’t stop because it’s 5 p.m. or you’ve used up the time you estimated on the job. You work because you might just come up with something better than what you have. And you’re never fully satisfied until you do.

The client that was considering going off fee has, for now at least, decided against it. Our largest client’s new marketing director has embraced us as his partners. So it’s with a strong client roster, a great track record, and an exceptional body of work that we greet the 2005 fiscal year. In the words of a rambunctious 11-year-old: “Bring it on.”