Frustrated? Go tell ’em what you want.

I was inspired again this week by David Ogilvy’s quote – “If you want action don’t write.  Go and tell the guy what you want”.

It’s a quote from an internal memo he wrote more than thirty years ago, but the thought’s as good today as it was then.  And particularly if you’re trying to manage an agency / client relationship in a world of email overload – maybe you should indeed stop trying to write it down and just go tell ‘em what you want.

Sound daunting?  Well, it shouldn’t, but if it does, here are six signs you probably need to stop writing and start talking face to face (or at least Zoom to Zoom):

You’re sending emails and getting nowhere

Yes, emails are easy.  But they’re the kiss of death when it comes to forging long-standing relationships at the expense of face-to-face discussion.  Emails shouldn’t, can’t and never will replace human interaction between clients and their agencies – and vice-versa.

You’re preparing a long complex document instead of talking

Labouring over a complex problem, document or presentation that’s burying an issue in pages of material to support what you have to say, isn’t doing you or your intended recipient any favours.  It’s an avoidance tactic that could likely be solved in a tenth of the time with a face-to-face discussion.

You’re getting wrapped up in company politics

If you think politics is the way forward you may well be right – but who really wants to play politics to get what’s in the best interests of the business?  Nobody. High time to strap on some courage and call it like it is, rather than waste a huge amount of time lobbying people you think may be able to help get what you want. (And if you haven’t considered it – you may be wrong anyway…!)

You’re complaining to anyone who’ll listen

It’s a natural human reaction to complain if things aren’t going our way. But if you’re complaining about a situation related to how your agency or client relationship is running – perhaps it’s time to stop complaining and start solving – “go tell the guy what you want…

You’re blaming everyone but yourself

Again, you may be right and it may not be your fault. But blaming others isn’t going to help get what you or your organization wants or needs.  Opening a dialogue with those around you, your agency or your client will get you a lot further than pointing fingers.

You’re stewing

Unless you’re someone’s lunch – stewing is never a good thing. The best approach to turning down the temperature and getting yourself out of a self-induced stew is to go talk to the person – not send them a prickly emails.

Whether you’re a client or an agency that’s facing headwinds, you’ll get further faster with constructive dialogue than with emails, lengthy presentations and / or staying bent out of shape. And if any of the above strikes a familiar note or if you are indeed feeling bent out of shape remember Mr. Ogilvy’s words: “If you want action don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want”.I don’t know specifically what’s frustrating you or your teams, but why not


Stephan Argent is Founder and Principal at Listenmore Inc offering confidential advisory to marketers looking for truly independent insight and advice they can’t find anywhere else. Read more like this on our blog Marketing Unscrewed / follow me @StephanArgent

Photo: Luis Gonçalves

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