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Entrepreneur

Get Out of Your Own Way!

By Tom Irmen

It had to be a decade or more ago when a good friend and advertiser reminded me that I was under no obligation to save my competitors.

I had described for my friend the circumstances in which a competitive print publisher, who has long since moved out of state, and myself had been invited by a local merchant’s association to teach a marketing class. When asked to define a prospective customer, he responded “anybody with a dollar in his hand.” I was shocked.

Could anyone with nearly two decades of experience in the printing and publishing industry actually subscribe to such a theory? Sadly, the answer was a resounding yes, and he is not alone in his thinking.

My answer to the same question was very much different than my competitor’s. In fact, it was very much different than the response I might have offered many years earlier in my career when I shared much the same view as my competitor. My response to the same question was that a potential customer was a person whose business you had taken the time to understand, whose target audience you had identified, and who you genuinely believed you could help succeed.

Idealistic? Perhaps. But if you have a long-term perspective, and if you truly have your client’s best interest at heart, you’ll understand and embrace this very simple philosophy for success.

I’ve always been amused at the never ending series of success books that make their way on to the different best-seller lists. They lead the reader to believe that some new and formerly unidentified success principle has been discovered, promising success to the reader. The truth is, success principles have remained unchanged for thousands of years and will remain unchanged for thousands of years more. They include these same core beliefs and principles that I embrace, which produce predictable, tangible results over the long term for both you and your client.

So why is true success so elusive for so many? Simple – greed! Stated another way, putting your personal objectives and goals ahead of those of your client. Short-term success at the expense of a meaningful and rewarding long-term relationship with a client whose respect, trust, and confidence you have earned and where both parties emerge as winners.

Not surprisingly, most account executives view other A/E’s as their “competition.” What they fail to appreciate is that they themselves are their only competitor, ignoring centuries-old success principles in search of the easier shortcut.

Have I failed to heed the advice of my friend who told me that I was under no obligation to save my competitors? Not at all. These core success beliefs and principles will continue to elude those who place their personal goals and ambitions ahead of their clients’. In fact, they won’t even begin to understand what I’ve written.

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