Gini Dietrich

Prom Queen or Prom Geek?

By: Gini Dietrich | July 11, 2011 | 
217

Something weird is happening: We’re the pretty girl who isn’t getting invited to Prom because everyone assumes she’s already been asked.

In the past month, I have had three different people ask me if I can recommend a PR/digital firm. With all three I asked more about their needs (because I assumed they already disqualified us) only to realize we’d be a perfect fit for them.

So I’ve responded with, “Uh…us?”

To which all three said, in some form of the same response, “OH! You’re taking new clients? We’d love to work with you. We thought you were too busy.”

At what point, while you’re growing a company (or two) does being too busy equate to not taking on new clients? Maybe I’m weird, but growth equals more clients, in my mind.

But, like I always do, I took those three conversations to heart and became introspective. What are we doing that makes people think we’re too busy to take on new clients?

Is it because we’re working to launch Spin Sucks Pro, which will have clients in a non-traditional, non-client service way?

Is it because I, personally, am really busy?

Is it because people trust me to make recommendations, but don’t want to work with us?

Is it because I don’t make a clear enough delineation between the blog and the work we do for clients at Arment Dietrich?

Is it because there is a perception that we’re too big or too expensive or not the right fit?

Is it because no one really knows what we do?

It it because our accounting process is the Sort ‘N Bank, which apparently makes people nervous?

I don’t have an answer, which is why I’m blogging about it.

We want to go to the Prom! It’s not fun sitting at home brushing your hair and painting your toenails on Saturday night because no one is asking you out.

What are we doing wrong?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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217 Comments on "Prom Queen or Prom Geek?"

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kmtirpitz
kmtirpitz
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich They orobably feel like I do on twitter and seldom have tweets returned. A black sheep.

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 2 months ago

I get the same thing all the time, and I think part of it is that people think I’m bigger than I really am, and in some cases assume that they can’t afford me. I’m just a little guy. Also, since I’ve been quick to offer free advice here and there for friends, etc, I’m seen as the nice guy, but perhaps not the “serious” agency. I have no idea, but that’s some speculation on my part.

Maybe people think you’re too nice. Oh…wait…nevermind…

adamtoporek
adamtoporek
5 years 2 months ago

Assuming a business is too busy is sort of odd. However, you’ve done such a good job branding yourself with SM, I can certainly see someone thinking you’re too big for certain accounts. (and you might be). But if you do work with individual SMBs, you might want to put that on AD site. I could absolutely see people feeling they would be too small an account and never even making the call.

RyanCritchett
5 years 2 months ago

I’ll just comment on the fact that this is cool, that you’re writing about it here, like this. Maybe they do think you’re too busy! (or too expensive) It definitely could appear that way, for both of those. Actually, I think it could be a bit everything you said… I mean… right? At any rate, awesome post to read first thing Monday morning.

prtini
5 years 2 months ago
@gini , someone last year told me they thought I wasn’t taking on new clients because I they assumed we were at capacity. Like you, I was a little taken aback. We’re in growth mode, so *of course* we’re taking on new clients. We’re a tiny little company, so I’m very careful to make sure that we grow responsibly and don’t scale in a way that will hurt clients, but that doesn’t mean we’re not looking to take on new short-term projects and/or long-term clients. I still don’t know what the solution is. I’ve seen some people be very direct… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@adamtoporek The weird thing is that two of the people are from Fortune 50 companies. Both looking for a boutique agency. The SMBs I get because we likely are too expensive. Totally strange.

johnfalchetto
5 years 2 months ago

Perception sucks.

I can see understand why some peeps would think you are too busy to take on new clients. You are a whirlwind of activity Gini. Most of us would think there is no way you can fit another account in your schedule.

Perhaps they don’t understand there is a team at AD and that you don’t run it alone. Although once again, it’s made quite clear on SS.

Still I think it’s because you are personally very busy. On the flip side, I don’t think, writing posts about sitting watching TV all day would be helpful either. Umm. Tricky balance.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@KenMueller And that, right there, is why I should never be concerned that if I get too big for my britches, no one will call me out.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@RyanCritchett Do you think it’s really the Snap ‘n Save?

EricaAllison
5 years 2 months ago

@KenMueller I think you’re right, Ken! I have the same issue and it wasn’t until I made my infamous video saying, no, wait, I’m dying here, send me business that people realized they could and should send me business. The appearance of busy-ness is a double-edged sword!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@johnfalchetto Hmmmm. Maybe I should try that – write about watching TV.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@prtini I’m with you – I’m not comfortable being that direct. Although when they ask for a recommedation, I have no problem recommending us. Ha!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@RyanCritchett I mean Save ‘N Sort. I should learn our accounting process.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@RyanCritchett Or Sort ‘N Bank. Oy.

EricaAllison
5 years 2 months ago
I just have to say that I LOVE that Sort ‘N Bank system…I esp liked their marketing approach: “I’d like you to see that again.” But, back to your situation. While ADG is nowhere near on the same level as AD, I can say that I have experienced what you’re going through. I was comfortable back in the fall and had a colleague say she would have referred work to me, but it looked like I was too busy. My immediate thought was “what?”. It then dawned on me that our social media/online experience is a “window” into our business… Read more »
EricaAllison
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @johnfalchetto You’d be amazed at the clients you’ll attract with that approach!

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich you wear britches? I thought you wore spandex…

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 2 months ago

@EricaAllison A lot of my closest friends seem to think I”m rolling in money….

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@KenMueller I wear britches to work. Spandex is only for coffee shops.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@EricaAllison I just think it’s odd that three people would call and ask for a recommendation and never even consider us until I say Yoo Hoo! On the commercial, did you also like the note to Canadians?

johnfalchetto
5 years 2 months ago

@EricaAllison Sounds like a good post, 🙂 @ginidietrich Or write about how you only work 4hrs a week

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich thank you for clarifying. And just remember, if and when we ever meet, it will be “work”…so no Spandex

barryrsilver
5 years 2 months ago

If you don’t ask the question, the answer is always no. When asked for a referral your first question should be “I can make a recommendation, but is there a reason you would prefer not to work with me/A-D?” but in a more articulate less confrontational way. Your professional availability must also be stated. “Never too busy to help a friend/ make a new friend/ something that indicates paying client “.

DannyBrown
5 years 2 months ago

You’re not wearing jeans on stage – problem solved.

Seriously, though, maybe sometimes you can have a post box with the words “Enjoy this post? See how we can help you with your needs in this area” (or something similar and better) and link to your Arment Dietrich services page.

Just a thought. 😉

DannyBrown
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @RyanCritchett Geez, how difficult is it to get just one frickin’ product name right???

KDillabough
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @EricaAllison First…note to Canadians…hmmmm

Second: I wonder if some people just think you’re “out of their league” (cue music, Patrick Swayze). Perhaps they didn’t think enough of themselves to believe that a company of your stature would take them on, and were to embarrassed to do the ask. Just a thought.

Steve Birkett
Steve Birkett
5 years 2 months ago
Interesting conundrum Gini. I would assume it’s the level of activity you display in spheres such as this one and your public speaking. Perhaps people equate you to being Arment-Dietrich on first glance. That could mean a mixture of assuming that you’re both too busy and, perhaps in some cases, beyond reach in the minds of some folks. It would explain why people still ask you for the recommendation: they value your professional experience and expect that anyone you refer will be the next best thing. Hopefully posts such as this will remind everyone that you can be not just… Read more »
KDillabough
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @prtini “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Gini, perhaps you would be comfortable with “being that direct” if you couched your statement in a tone of light-heartedness…which is what you do delightfully anyways. Always do the ask, in a way that opens the door but doesn’t punch someone in the face as soon as they walk through it. Be direct baby:) Cheers! Kaarina

RyanCritchett
5 years 2 months ago

@DannyBrown @ginidietrich I KNOW!

RyanCritchett
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich OY! Who knows. Explain more about how your operation is like Sort ‘N Bank?

RyanCritchett
5 years 2 months ago

@DannyBrown At least she didn’t erase the comment and redo it! @ginidietrich

KDillabough
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @adamtoporek Wow, didn’t read down this far before making my comment. I thought perhaps the people looking for PR agency might have felt that they were too “small potatoes” to work with you. Blows that theory to bits.

rachaelseda
5 years 2 months ago

I would take you to prom any day – but it would take me a lot of guts to ask and I’d probably lose my lunch…perhaps this is how they feel so it’s easier to ask if you know of anyone else that still needs a prom date…?

KDillabough
5 years 2 months ago

@rachaelseda That was my sentiment exactly Rachael. But later (after I commented a similar sentiment to yours), it appears that the companies doing the search were more Prom King and less Wallflower Wally. Go figure. But maybe it’s still about perceiving that they weren’t at a level to work with the amazing Gini. Cheers! Kaarina

rustyspeidel
rustyspeidel
5 years 2 months ago

I agree with Danny that your blog and speaking are such strong parts of why folks know you that you might need to establish a stronger link between the advice you give and the agency’s ability to execute on that advice. It’s really pretty hard to find the relationship when you’re so caught up in the good posts and the conversations that follow. Maybe a “Work With Us” link? Make sure there’s a strong call to action after every post. I assume that’s why you’re writing all this, yes?

JGoldsborough
JGoldsborough
5 years 2 months ago

@DannyBrown I think you’re right, DB. And this is a hard situation. I just think people feel weird about doing business with folks they are friendly with. It shouldn’t be that way, especially when you know the relationship can be benificial for both parties. But if you asked everyone who commented here privately or maybe even publicly, I think many would tell you that.

But @barryrsilver is right…You have to ask the question. If the answer is no, be ready to move on. But you never know if you don’t ask, which is why your post box is a good idea.

prtini
5 years 2 months ago
@johnfalchetto The “team” aspect is an interesting element of agency life. I recently signed a new client that was working with a larger agency. They’d been sold by the firm principle, but when it came time to do the work, it was an entry-level staffer managing the account, and they hated that. Because I’m a smaller company, I’m involved in all the strategy setting and much of the ongoing work. I have an account exec assigned to the account, but I’m still the client’s primary contact (I guess that’s one benefit of being a smaller shop.) @ginidietrich While you probably… Read more »
TheJackB
5 years 2 months ago
I am not sure that I have ever looked for a link to your website, until this post that is. Once I did I found the drop down menu at the top of the page, but I truly never see that. It might be because I am so focused upon the posts and comments here, but I think that I forget about the business side sometimes. I think that is important to ask for business and to make it easy to find links to case studies/testimonials about what you have done and something that offers a “free” consultation for businesses… Read more »
jacobstoller
jacobstoller
5 years 2 months ago

I’ve found that people who are a little shy of declaring their desire to take you to the dance may have a low budget, and may be think they can’t afford you.

yourgreatlifetv
yourgreatlifetv
5 years 2 months ago
Hi Gini, I agree with @DannyBrown I think you could add something to each post that lets people know they can work with you. I would also do a short video in an area of your site that explains in your own words what you can do and who is an ideal client for you 🙂 I think most people probably assume (at list I did) that you usually work with very large clients with very large budgets, so educating everyone with easy more obvious links to how to work together would be an invaluable service to your viewers and… Read more »
Soulati
Soulati
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich I am thinking about this problem and have a thought for you.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@KDillabough I would understand that if two of the companies weren’t Fortune 50. It’s just bizarre to me.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@barryrsilver That’s exactly what I did with all three. I just find it bizarre that we’re looked at for great recommendations, but not to hire.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@DannyBrown You don’t think that’s too forward for a blog?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@JGoldsborough And here we keep telling clients to develop content that creates a relationship because people buy from people they like. Perhaps I’m not putting the “buy” out there enough.

Sean McGinnis
5 years 2 months ago

@ginidietrich @JGoldsborough I can’t possibly write out everything I think about this…. 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@Sean McGinnis If it has anything to do with badges, take it up with lisagerber !

FocusedWords
FocusedWords
5 years 2 months ago

Maybe I am a part of the problem, Gini. I love the blog but I don’t think to tell people that if they are looking for PR to give you a call. That is about to change. Maybe if we (your readers) combine with the recommendations for the digital side, you will find yourself so busy that you won’t have time to write. Oh wait, not that busy, OK???

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 2 months ago

@FocusedWords LOL!! OK! We actually have a great system here and I have a fabulous (and growing) team who backs me up. Thankfully part of my job is to continue blogging so that’ll never end.

hackmanj
5 years 2 months ago

@yourgreatlifetv @DannyBrown I actually think that approach is a bit too in your face. I like a much less direct approach but that’s just me. I do like the “work with me” concept (work with us in this case?) where you could indicate that you are accepting new clients.

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