Who's agenda is it anyway?
Blogging has been sparse lately. Lots of planning, proposals, new biz. These things take time. They also can be done either very well or very poorly. There's not a lot of middle ground - especially in new biz. You get one - maybe one and a half - chance to connect on multiple levels: financial, strategic, personal, emotional. I read an article on a collection of Bob Dylan interviews last night and it illustrated one of what I believe is the main tenants of new biz: clarifying the agenda. More specifically, who sets it, who follows it and how well is that agenda followed.
If you can read the article in its entirety do. As a music lover, closet journalist and history buff, I enjoyed the read. If you want the snapshot, read the transcript of an interview between Dylan and Playboy's (not linking to this) Ron Rosenbaum (at the very end). The set up to this interview is countless misunderstood interviews, wrong questions and lame answers, and a persistent lack of understanding what everyone was truly searching for: Dylan's inspiration and reasoning behind himself and his music.
Even Rosenbaum fumbles at first, but recovers by listening to Dylan's answer, which leads him like a leash to the heart of a great interview. In short, he allows Dylan to set the agenda, follows it, and follows it well.
Over the past couple weeks, I've seen potential clients practically scream their desires to be listened to: "Just do this one little thing for godsake! Stop giving me x, y, z! I want a!" and turn over the oars to my ideas: "Nothing's worked. Do something. Tell me how much it costs." A successful relationship is built when an agency's/marketer's/individual's agenda isn't pushed on a client, and more importantly, the client's agenda is clear. I get tired of marketers pushing plans that are irrelevant to a client's bottom line. Throwing a kitchen sink at a coffee-mug problem. Hounding prospects without bothering with engagement. Pounding the marketer's agenda instead of the client's. Come on, we're already asking them to pay us...why not make darn sure we know what they want to pay for.
We oftentimes make the mistake of thinking we know more than the prospect does. Maybe it's true. Often can be. But at least the prospect is humble enough to say, "I know widgets, but I don't have the foggiest idea how to market them."
As Rosenbaum figured out, it's not just about asking the right questions, it's about listening to all the answers.
Listening to: (how could I not) Bob Dylan, Live at the Gaslight 1962.