this speech is only half finished – eric kiker

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This Speech is Only Half Finished gives agencies, studios, even freelancers a proven process for helping get to the truth of who they are and who they best serve, so they can break through to the next level - and get more of whatever they value most from what they do, whether that's money, prestige, freedom, creativity or something else.


PowerPoint Presentation


Good afternoon, thanks so much for having me. Im Eric Kiker and sorry, but this speech is only half finished. I wanted to ask you all an audience participation question to start things off. And Im going to record the answers right here in this next slide:

MUCH MORE______________?

I just thought of this the other day and Ive never tried it, so sorry in advance if its glitchy. I call it Spontaneous PowerPoint, or SPPT. So if you would, please, spit out some fill-in-the-blank answers when I ask, from a business perspective, what do you want much more of? Okay thats great. And now, the speech can start.


What happens when you go here?


advertising agencies loc:

Akron, OH

and enter this?


Once you've zoomed out four clicks, here's what you get. Can you find yourself in this picture?


advertising agencies loc:

Chicago, IL

Let's try your neighbor, Chicago.


Now, again, I pulled back a bit to show the surrounding area. That's a heck of a lot of dots. And they shouldnt feel bad at all - because the same holds true in every market:


Los Angeles

Los Angeles


New York

New York


Des Moines

And just in case you think the lots of dots example only applies to big cities, here's Des Moines. Again, no shortage of people like us doing the sorts of things we do.



My agency is located in Denver, where there are almost as many ad agencies...


Denver - plumbers

As there are plumbers.


Our agency is called LeeReedy/Xylem Digital. We're a traditional and digital agency with a long history of working with great clients including:






Geek Squad


Jamba Juice




Hunter Douglas


and Naked Juice. Yet, we are, beyond our own back yard, virtually unknown. Why.


New York

Because we...


Los Angeles

...look like...



...everyone else.



So we set a goal for ourselves. To stand for something true. So when a very specific kind of client is looking for precisely what we represent, the map looks a whole lot less like this:


...and more like this. But selling more work, not necessarily standing out was what we had in mind when we hired a business consultant.


This is Cindy Kenyon. Cindy's the consultant we hired to help us sell more work. But after listening to our story and looking at our materials, which we thought were pretty good, she said in a cute Texas drawl, "Y'all need to start showin' up better." We were stunned. After all, we thought we had some pretty good stuff. Our line at the time was this:


Think like investors

We think like investors. We thought it was good. After all, a lot of our clients were and are VC firms. Naked was owned by a VC firm. Atkins is owned by the same one. We also tend to work with a lot of start up brands who don't have a lot of money. So we liked this. But Cindy wasn't convinced it was differentiating enough. So we said, Fine, well just put you on retainer little missy. Cindy knows a lot about advertising agencies - and a lot about a lot of advertising agencies.


After all, she ran the RFP for Radio Shack back in 2004. Cindy looked at a ton of agencies, which were culled down to a great many agencies, which eventually resulted in Arnold Worldwide winning the business.


You've heard of Arnold. Volvo, Carnival Cruise Lines, Jack Daniels. Arnold is in Boston.



They're the big B.


Cindy Kenyon

Cindy introduced us to a number of people in her personal network:


Cindy Kenyon

Cindy Hennessy

Cindy Hennessy was Marketing and Innovation VP at Pizza Hut, then SVP of Innovation at Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, then she held the same title at Cadbury Schweppes. Cindy kills it.


Cindy Kenyon

Cindy Hennessy Don Carroll

Then there was Don Carroll. Don was Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at Radio Shack, then President and CEO at Heelys. They make those kids shoes that turn into skates.


Cindy Kenyon

Cindy Hennessy Don Carroll

Janet Bustin

Janet Bustin spent 19 years as President at DDB Dallas. Big brains, all of these guys.


What they told us (between bites of free food)

So, we went to Dallas, where Cindy Kenyon introduced us to these pretty impressive marketing and advertising people. One of my partners, Patrick Gill and I, told our story - talked about our clients, asked questions, showed our Think Like Investors deck. And we did okay. What we heard was, based on our deck, we didn't seem that different than lots of other agencies.


Janet Bustin put it to us best, drinking hot coffee in a Corner Bakery that was hotter than both the coffee and hell. She said, "Fellas, I've been in the agency business for 20 years and they all say the same exact thing."


Were big idea people.

We're big idea people.


"We're big idea people." "We're highly collaborative."

We're highly collaborative.


"We're big idea people." "We're highly collaborative."

"And we're all about results."

And we're all about results. We couldn't believe it.





Los Angeles

Los Angeles


New York

even New York agencies are all saying the same thing?


"We're big idea people." "We're highly collaborative."

"And we're all about results."

These three things? Well, at first, we were more than somewhat disappointed. Don't really know why. Maybe it was just thinking we had something great and distinctive with Think Like Investors. And all this meant was that Cindy Kenyon was right - that we needed to show up better. More to the point, we needed to show up better - and different. But the fact was, we realized after we got out of that hell hot Corner Bakery and got our brains back into Cindy's air conditioned Lexus, that here was a real opportunity. If all those dots were generating the same three ideas - and winning clients anyway, how amazingly well could we possibly do if we could just figure out what sets us truly, differentiatingly apart.



So we came home to this. And we started thinking. But of course, clients kept calling and kept wanting us to do the work we'd agreed to do. So beyond the excited plane ride back to Denver, we didn't get much done.


Cindy Kenyon

A few days later, Cindy Kenyon called. "I have this great opportunity," she said, still Texas drawling. "Randy Gier has agreed to meet you and Patrick as a favor to me. Isn't that great?"


Cindy Kenyon

Cindy Hennessy Don Carroll

Janet BustinRandy Gier

Randy Gier was CMO at KFC, then CMO of Pizza Hut, then Advisor to the office of the CEO at Tracey Locke. Today, Randy's CMO of LaLa - a $2B Mexico-based dairy moving into the US market. Randy's job is to make them into a $4B dairy. And he'd agreed to see us as a favor to Cindy Kenyon.


A favor to Cindy Kenyon.

To say we werent bothered by the fact that we were a favor would be, a lie. We did care. And it made us feel rather small. And local. The day before we left, an old client dropped by.


Susan Aust was, up until recently, the Creative Director at Noodles and Company. I'd written their website a couple years back, when I was freelancing and had also done several on premise promotions - Susan was - and is - a really great person and I was glad she came by.


The Brand Workshop

Susan asked what was going on with me and how my work had changed since I'd become a partner at LeeReedy/Xylem Digital. I told her I was spending a lot more time moderating and analyzing our brand workshop, which we called, The Brand Workshop. I told her what a great tool it was and how we routinely turned brand essence statements, positioning platform and more, around for clients in just two weeks.


"Yeah, Susan said, Noodles and Company's new agency, Martin Williams has a process like that - they get to all that stuff just like you do." "Oh, I said," acknowledging the reason we'd never "branded" our brand workshop or TM'd it or anything - because everyone has a process like it." "Yeah, Susan went on." "It took them four months." At that moment I heard a tiny little "click," as if a light had been turned on, way down a long, long hallway.


Dallas, TexasLaLa Headquarters


Cindy Kenyon, Patrick Gill and I arrived to see Randy Gier. The first thing I noticed as we arrived was that LaLa was in the building owned and populated by The Richards Group.


Thats their homepage. Really simple and cool. Does anybody know about The Richards Group? Well, for those of you who dont, The Richards Group is America's largest independently owned ad agency


theyre not owned by WPP




Or Interpublic


Stan Richards: Damn cool guy

The Richards Group is owned by Stan Richards. They're one of my favorite agencies - flat from an organizational standpoint, no real hierarchy, everyone sits together - top guys next to junior guys, account guys next to creativ