we should aspire to be seen as ‘subject matter experts’

I have a client at the moment who refers to the agency team as ‘subject matter experts’. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but it has really grown on me.

It signposts to the client’s marketing team and wider stakeholders not only that we, the agency team, know what we’re talking about, but that we have a depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise that means we should be trusted to give best advice.

This client also applies their Subject Matter Expert label to other consultants and specialists involved in overlapping projects and workstreams which has led to pretty respectful relationships and positive collaboration across different ‘suppliers’.

It’s led me to wonder if perhaps agencies in general have spent so much time in recent years shouting about performance and measurement that, as an industry, we’ve lost some of the subject matter expert status that allowed us to give advice without the necessity of a 300 slide deck that shows every single one of our workings before we got to the recommendation (yes, I’ve actually seen these, and from major agencies).

The days of Mad Men-style campaigns based on a hunch are thankfully long gone, but when there’s trust and respect flowing both ways, the legwork that led to recommendations can be shared on a need-to-know basis that respects client’s time and available headspace.

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