Clients & Problems & Solutions, Oh My…

Mary Wells Lawrence
Advertising legend, Mary Wells Lawrence

“When a client comes to us with a product, he is, in effect, giving us a problem to be solved. … Some of the biggest advertising mistakes are people who imagine they know what the problem is, or they’re not even thinking about it; they’re just coming up with that brilliant idea and trying to force the problem to fit it.” (Mary Wells Lawrence)

What a great, insightful comment from legendary advertising executive, Mary Wells Lawrence. Lawrence was the founding president of Wells Rich Greene (WRG), an agency known for its creative, innovative, and revolutionary work. A bit of a revolutionary herself, Lawrence was the first female CEO of a company listed on the NY Stock Exchange. By 1969, she was reported to be the highest-paid executive in advertising. She was the youngest member to be inducted into the Copywriters Hall of Fame and inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame in 1999. Back in the day, major WRG clients included American Motors, Cadbury Schweppes, IBM, Pan American World Airways, Procter & Gamble and many others. Lawrence stepped down as CEO in 1990, and WRG officially ceased operations in 1998.

2000px-I_Love_New_York.svg-1If you haven’t heard of Ms. Lawrence, you’ve surely heard of some her agency’s notable campaigns, including: “Plop plop, fizz fizz” & “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” (Alka Seltzer), “I ♥NY,” “Trust the Midas Touch,” “At Ford, Quality is Job 1″ and “Flick your Bic.” 

But we digress. Back to the point of her comment! Lawrence keenly noted one of an agency’s biggest potential mistakes: failing to recognize the client’s real problem that needs to be solved. Maybe it comes by failing to truly listen to the client and her needs. Or maybe, as Lawrence points out, we think we know what the real problem is. Or we simply champion our own creative “solutions” and try to shoehorn the client into our work, instead of letting the work truly stem from an authentic understanding of the problem to be solved.

PACE_problem-solution-chalkboardAt PACE, we’ve learned that if we invest the time to truly listen to a client’s needs and challenges, we will understand the real problem that needs to be solved. If we invest the energy to look deeply enough into any project, we will uncover the defining essence or distinguishing vision that differentiates it, drives its activities, and provides the basis for a targeted campaign and creative solutions that match the client’s objectives and ultimately solve the problem at hand. Consequently, rather than reflecting our agency’s style, our work reflects each individual client’s vision and identity.

PACE_listenOver the years, we’ve developed client relationships that are earned, long-term engagements, because our efforts are devoted to achieving our clients’ objectives and exceeding their expectations. As a result, we have enjoyed many client relationships that span decades; a true rarity in the world of advertising.

If you have a branding or marketing challenge that’s keeping you up at night, or blocking your growth and potential, we’d love to talk with you, to listen, to get to heart of the problem – and to begin developing strategic, creative, and authentic solutions to help your company succeed.

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