As the fridge heaved last weekend with the extra-large-in-case-it-snows-alot supermarket shop, I was chatting to a family member about what our family motto could be. We came up with Never Knowingly Underprepared.
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As a family we all like lists, fully stocked cupboards, Plans of Action and Being Prepared. In my previous agency life my desk draw was like a cross between Boots and WhSmith and regularly saved the day by dispensing baby wipes, plasters, painkillers, staplers and spare umbrellas.
Admittedly, I was that irritating pitch team member who was ready to leave for the pitch ten minutes early, with directions, an agenda, background notes and an extension cable.
But in contrast, most of AdLand seems to live by the mantra Always Winging It and/or It’ll be right on the night. I’ve lost count of number of times I’ve sat in meetings where it quickly became apparent to everyone including the client that at least one of the agency team was winging it and hopelessly unprepared.
It’s such a waste of time and money. As an industry we spend an absolute fortune on New Business activity, from PR and networking to exorbitant awards entries and even advertising ourselves – then when we do get that coveted initial client meeting, we roll up unprepared.
Or if you’re looking at it from a ‘bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ point of view, sometimes we even rock up to meetings with clients we’re already working with and still try to blag it.
I know we’re all very busy. And I know that everyone isn’t like that. But it seems bonkers for anyone to go unprepared to even one meeting – it has just cost too much to get there.
PS I should point out that I’m not Superwoman. Before Christmas I got stuck in a traffic jam on the way to a new business meeting, got there 15 minutes late and promptly spilt coffee all over myself. Not surprisingly, I have yet to get any work from that client…