• Bill Petrie

The Foresight of Ferris

Why moving too fast harms your clients and your business

American philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Candidly, I'm not sure more real wisdom came from a movie not named "This Is Spinal Tap," but I digress. Unfortunately, in a society that slams the accelerator to the floorboard harder with each passing day, treating life – and work – like a whirling dervish has become commonplace.

We don't run from one task to another; we sprint with reckless abandon, which causes small things to fall through the cracks. We don't have one program open simultaneously on our computers; we have 15 different windows making it impossible to find what we were working on in the first place. We don't focus on phone calls; we text and respond to emails and say things like, "I'm sorry, you cut out – can you repeat that" when we get caught not paying attention.

We often move throughout our day with neither thought nor purpose.

Sadly, this same whirlybird approach is applied to the work presented to clients on a far-too-regular basis – especially as it relates to promotional products. Here is the typical sales process in the promotional products industry:

  1. Distributor meets with client

  2. Client gives budget and in-hands date

  3. Distributor does some research

  4. Client receives some sort of electronic presentation that shows their logos on merchandise

  5. Distributor hopes client buys something on the presentation

That's it. That's the sales process most employ in the promotional products industry. It's expected, perfunctory, inelegant, and completely lacks both thought and purpose. All the while, many wonder why clients aren't loyal, always want something at a discount, or don't seem to care about thoughtfully using promotional merchandise. Read that sales process again, but this time from the client's perspective. Would YOU buy from that person?

When you don't put thought and purpose behind your work – when you just throw it out there hoping it will stick – you do yourself and your clients a disservice. If you want to stand out from the product pushers and grow your business, it's time to not just work with thought and purpose but share that with your clients. Instead of just showing products, take time to explain the thinking and purpose of each piece of decorated product. When you take the time to disclose the WHY behind your promotional merchandise selections, you:

  • Show the client you care because there is a purpose tied to the merchandise

  • Answer unasked questions from the client, which creates efficiency in the process and an understanding from the client that you genuinely think about their success

  • Create an avenue of collaboration with the client by engaging in a dialog

  • Showcase your knowledge of the industry, your client, their target audience, and how to move that audience to action

  • Exercises your creative brain by making you honestly think about how the product will achieve client goals

Yes, it's a bit more work to share the thought and purpose behind your work, but the payoff is well worth the calorie burn. Ferris Bueller was right: life does move pretty fast. However, if you slow down just a bit and share both the thought and purpose behind your work, your clients may just view you as Grace the receptionist does Mr. Bueller: "They all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."

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