It’s all about the trust

By Laurie Van Metre | October 16, 2013

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Laurie Van Metre

President

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Laurie Van Metre

President

How do you keep an agency growing and thriving for nearly 30 years? Spend an hour with Laurie and you’ll discover an enthusiasm and magnetism that have engendered client loyalty for decades. And while you may be bowled over by her professional knowledge and drive, it’s her warmth, honesty, and sense of fun that will have you hooked. Yes, she could probably be President of the USA, but she’d rather be President of FVM.

Defining working virtues:tenacity, tenacity, curiosity, tenacity

Defining unwinding exercise:early morning yoga

Most common reading material:client industry intel and news

Unofficial family title:Cruise Director

Dietary mainstay:Amy’s lentil vegetable soup

I couldn’t help myself. I opened my eyes at 5am one morning, the TV still on from the night before, and what program was on? The Pitch, AMC’s reality show that gives a behind-the-scenes view as two ad agencies vie for a new account. How could I NOT watch?

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In this case, the account was The Fuller Brush Company. THE Fuller Brush Company! An iconic brand from my childhood whose distribution channel was The Fuller Brush Man (thousands of them, actually) selling door-to-door-to-door-to-door. Seriously.

Fuller, one of America’s oldest and most trusted brands that was once known by every household in America (and according to my mother, “Made the best toilet brush on the planet,”) is now virtually unknown by anyone under the age of 45. With a new owner who just rescued the 100-year-old company from bankruptcy, the agency assignment was to “reboot the brand for the modern market.” Again, who wouldn’t love this show?

Without going blow by blow through the episode, suffice it to say, I found it both entertaining and a bit unbelievable. Particularly the part when both agencies came up with exactly the same “Live Fuller” concept to build their pitches around. Yeah, kinda’ fishy.

Anyway, the question is, how does CEO David Sabin choose between two agencies that just presented the exact same big idea?

My answer (and here comes the lesson): Clients don’t choose agencies based on the creative they pitch. They choose agencies based on whether they can imagine trusting the agency’s people with their brand.

Think about your closest relationships, your best friends. The best ones are those who spend the most time with you, expend the most energy on you, appreciate you and love you just the way you are. And more than likely, they are also the ones whom you allow to carefully, kindly, and almost naturally help you grow into a better version of yourself. Because they are the ones you trust.

In my view, the Monogram agency didn’t win because of their creative execution. They won because they showed the client he could trust them because they took the time to understand. They spent time on research and then shared their views of potential new customers; they first understood and then echoed the client’s love of The Fuller Brush Man icon while recommending a modern makeover; and they even showed personal empathy and appreciation for the quality of the brand by mentioning using a Fuller hairbrush for over 50 years.

Monogram got it. They understood that the pitch wasn’t about the idea, the destination. It was about their process, their journey to understanding – recounting what they did, what they learned and then what they recommended based on years of experience and expertise.

Monogram got it all — the brand, the client’s trust, and the account.

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