I sent my teenager to her room last week…
I don’t really do that a lot. But the more I think about what happened, the more I realize what a favor I was doing her in preparing her for today’s world.
If you’re like me, you probably ask your kids to do a lot less than you had to growing up. One of the few responsibilities she has is cleaning up the kitchen after meals. And just to be clear, she normally gets multiple members to pitch in clearing and putting things away. In the end though she’s the one that loads the dishwasher and wipes down all the counter space.
“So, here we are on a night like most others. And she’s “done.” ”
You know, teenager done.
And she’s ready to do something else. So, trying to have one of those super Dad moments, I put on my “coach” voice and say that I need her to finish her job… That I need her to put away all her supplies. And then, because she’s looking at me like I’ve lost my mind, I show her how the sink she had recently walked away from as done had been left with food all over it.
And that’s when it happened. She grew upset, and with an outburst that got her sent away from me, she says, “I tried really hard.”
Those four words were so telling.
You see, I was supposed to be okay with how things were because she tried. Because she put forth some effort. And that’s when it really happened. I realized how the clients we serve feel. Because as business people and marketeers it’s easy to do something very similar.
The client’s not happy so our M.O. is to present them with documentation of all the time and effort that was put into things.
They didn’t receive all they hoped, so now there’s an explanation of how the team went through a checklist of things they said they would do. There’s a recitation of how they met the T’s and C’s of their statement of work.
So sorry it didn’t turn out like you hoped… Actually, I’m not sure that anyone says sorry, truly.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, time and effort was what was measured. But not anymore.
And truth be told, the struggle is real. For nearly a decade I’ve fought tooth and nail to not be an organization that focused on time or a checklist of things. Rogue would focus on an outcome and care far less about the time the team might overserve to get there. My experience was that when you asked people to report on time, that’s what you got… a watched clock and an emphasis on proving that a person was busy and valuable. I didn’t want to be like the lawyer that gets paid for time spent rather than winning the case… or the therapist who charges by the session, not whether you come out of your depression or whether the marriage you want to piece together survives. It’s purely an equation of time, not outcome. And when that’s the case, what’s the true incentive?
The Kind of Time that DOES Matter
At Rogue, I’ve seen that while trajectory is nearly always positive for the clients we serve, outcome achievement may take longer than originally thought. And that’s where I’ve found trouble may begin to brew. Suddenly there’s a doubt as to whether the client got what they paid for.
An accounting of hours ensues. And then comes the questioning of how long an action should take… and who deems what’s reasonable?
Like the snowball that gets bigger as it continues to roll on itself down the hill, that’s what optimized and strategic marketing efforts can produce with the passing of time. AND that kind of time DOES matter. Just like sales, marketers have to build a relationship too and that can happen quickly, but it’s not overnight and it may take longer than three months. If you see trajectory and engagement trending in the right way, now you need to give it time to simmer. This kind of time indicates progress and produces outcomes.
But that’s not the kind of time most of the industry focuses on. And to be fair, it’s not completely our fault. It requires patience and vision from business leaders to look further down the road and not have the dollar in two dollars out mentality right from the start. And so what we’re left with is an industry that still behaves as though value is best depicted in time and effort. Perhaps you’re promoting it and don’t even realize it.
I see it all the time as I review resumes. And if you’re brave enough, I challenge you to pull out your resume and notice just how much space is given to words like: focused on, led, employed, responsible for, managed, oversaw and supported.
This is value depiction based on effort and time. And occupying a chair doesn’t mean anything anymore.
What we should be doing is communicating from a higher value point with terms like delivered, created, built, invented, sold, made, authored… you get the idea. And so will your client.
“Simply trying, and dedicating time, is no longer enough. Outcomes matter. Those that embrace that reality will be better set up to win today.”
I’d love to hear what you’ve seen. How are you bridging the gap between effort and results? I know that we’ve found that we have a tendency to overserve and not have a client value that results do take time. Personally, my team is in the midst of a time recording exercise to better understand ourselves and uncover what it takes to achieve certain outcomes… But it’s a genuine struggle to remind ourselves to stay above the time fray and to not do it like every other agency or consultancy.
After all, it’s a whole lot easier to grow upset knowing we are genuinely trying… forgetting that the real world increasingly seeks results not effort.