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How to Blame Your Clients

2010 May 19
by Greg Satell

Are you feeling depressed?  Maybe that’s because you toil day after day and still lack the basic essentials, like a Bentley, your own private jet and a decent sized chalet in the Alps.

There’s no reason to despair.  With a little practice, you can simply blame it all on your clients.  It won’t earn you any money, but it will allow you to commiserate with your similarly disenfranchised peers and gain lifelong friends and admirers.

Here’s a quick guide that will get you started:

Learn the Dialogue

If you are going to successfully blame your clients, you will need to have the answers to the basic questions that interlocutors will throw at you.  The following is an example that you should learn and become familiar with:

You:    Clients need to understand that we don’t perform a commodity service.

Interlocutor: Yes, that doesn’t seem fair.  By the way, where do you work?

You: Well, now I work at Ogilvy, but before that I was at McCann, and before that at Lintas, and before that Young and Rubicam and before that…

Interlocutor: And clients see all you guys as interchangeable?  That does sound a bit unreasonable.  Incidentally, what kind of service do you provide?

You: Oh, I do some very complex market analysis and deliver consumer insights.

Interlocutor:  Wow!  That does sound sophisticated.  You must have some kind of degree in econometrics.

You: Um, no.  I have a degree in liberal arts.

Interlocutor: But surely you’ve received some sort of training in mathematical statistics.

You: No, but we have plenty of research systems with really cool sounding names.

Interlocutor: Oh, okay then.  I guess you use the statistical functions in Excel to help you analyze the data from all that research.

You: There are statistical functions in Excel?

Interlocutor:  Okay, I guess math isn’t your thing.  But I bet working all those years in advertising you must have great ground-level knowledge from talking to magazine editiors and radio programmers…

You: You mean suppliers?  Heavens no!  They do implementation.  I’m a strategist!

Interlocutor: So, what exactly is it you do all day?

You: I service clients.

Interlocutor:  What’s that?   You mean like a massage with a happy ending?

You:  No!  It’s account management and therefore I should be paid like McKinsey and Bain!

Now for the Hard Work

Of course, you will need to do more than just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk as well.  Building a true cargo cult takes hard work and dedication.

You will have to build an entire industry of like minded individuals and keep it insular. Start people at the bottom and let them work their way up.  Don’t take transplants from any other industry or bring in high-level people from clients or suppliers.

If you find that you lack the kind of profit levels investors like to see, just merge with another company that’s doing the same things you are.  You can consolidate overhead costs and crow on about potential synergies.  When they don’t pan out, merge again!

In the End, It Will All Be Worth It

This might seem like a lot of work and trouble to go to simply to be able to whine with your friends.  There will always be naysayers who would suggest that you adopt best practices, such as talent development, a networked organization and innovation.  But that’s a lot of hooey.

Those of us who are intelligent know that nothing we do really matters.  That’s why we spend so much time making up complex sounding terms like USP, GRP and ROI. Perception beats reality every time!

Those who obsess about profits have never experienced the real joys of self-righteous indignation.

– Greg

9 Responses leave one →
  1. May 19, 2010

    Good one, Greg. Everyone needs a good dose of sarcasm everyday! I feel refreshed.
    .-= Cheryl Andonian´s last blog ..Is New School Marketing Really That Different From Old School? =-.

  2. May 19, 2010


    Thanks. When is your next blog post coming?

    – Greg

  3. May 19, 2010

    Soon, soon.
    .-= Cheryl Andonian´s last blog ..Is New School Marketing Really That Different From Old School? =-.

  4. Dick Laurie permalink
    May 20, 2010

    Fantastic Greg. A good pick-me-up. Personally, I can’t be bothered with the bitching & moaning. Either you love what you do and want to keep doing it (through good and bad times) or you don’t. In which case, change.


  5. May 20, 2010

    Thanks, Dick.

    I couldn’t agree more. I really don’t understand how people can work in media and advertising and not be passionate about it. If you want to be boring, why not work in a bank?

    – Greg

  6. May 20, 2010


  7. May 20, 2010

    Thanks, Chris.

  8. Robert Neuschul permalink
    June 4, 2010

    Huge laughs.

    Quite agree, and it’s true for other industries too.

  9. June 4, 2010

    Thanks, Robert.

    Have a nice weekend.

    – Greg

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