At Strother Communications Group, our unifying goal is a high level of quality and polish and has been for 26 years. Every detail counts for our clients and reflects on the agency. When our advisory board offered to lead an offsite meeting to provide fresh perspective on how to take the agency to an even higher level, we jumped at the opportunity.
SCG Board member William Manning and his Robins Kaplan patent litigation team (Aaron Fahrenkrog, Logan Drew, Sahr Brima, Shui Li and Deb McNeil) hosted the agency recently in their 7th floor mock trial chamber in downtown Minneapolis. They were joined by SCG Board member Doug Spong, who founded Carmichael Lynch Spong, a four-time “PR Agency of the Year,” and is now consulting with world-class PR, advertising and digital agencies.
Turning the Table to Open Doors
The challenge for the session was to open new doors to how we think about ourselves to add insights to our own messaging, while making us each a little sharper. This was like sitting on the other side of the table in our BrandVision process. This structured session was a great exercise in many respects, including experiencing what it feels like to be the prospect and client.
You may be thinking—what do patent lawyers know about messaging?
As it turns out, quite a bit.
Patent law and PR/Marketing are both service businesses viewed by many as a commodity. (Really, aren’t all lawyers alike?) Given this perception of parity, both types of firms must use education and persuasion to convey the full benefit of our craft, and how we do it better than others. This is exactly what we do for our clients – and on this day it was our turn to map this out for SCG.
Simplify and Persuade with Evidence
After bagels and exceptional coffee, we watched these legal pros present “How to Move a Billion Dollars Across the Table at a Ten-to-One Return Without Trial or Appeal.” This hour-long case study recap is designed to inform, entertain and engage prospects. I’d give it high marks on all three counts. Complete with video, animation and physical models, it has a win rate of 90 percent! In a word, impressive. After learning how this team discovers facts to present in a simple but compelling way, you are easily persuaded it’s their meticulous preparation that has in fact moved $1 billion from the cheaters to the creators. As they said, it’s the evidence that wins cases not lawyers, but these lawyers get better evidence. (If you have patents, you should definitely ask to see this presentation.)
Active Listening Yields Insights
Next, each of us was asked to list three unique things about ourselves and three things about the agency relating to our client work. We then practiced active listening as Bill recognized volunteers to share their six points. In the end, we all shared our list. The experience of listening without critique was surprisingly powerful. Not that we don’t listen to each other on a regular basis, but truth be told, we often divert our thoughts away from listening and towards what we will say next. No more.
While the Robins Kaplan team transcribed our hand-written lists, we were treated to lunch from Brasa. Good food always fuels good thinking, which was next up. With our comments projected on the screen, Doug helped draw out the competitive strengths from these individual points and (as intended by our host) a Socratic discussion ensued. The SCG team began to collaborate on how to better present our evidence of how we create successful marketing programs. The big surprise with this segment was that three key themes emerged, not 90 disparate thoughts. The Robins Kaplan team marveled at how cohesive our thoughts were. Here they are:
- We are an insanely talented group of people with wit, intellect, creativity and humanity. We genuinely like each other, care about each other and love working together—like a family but better.
- We offer tremendous value for clients with high quality work at a fair, reasonable fee. We get stuff done, in real time. We are nimble, responsive and we stay on the leading edge with new offerings and refining time-tested basics. In short, we punch above our weight class.
- We love bringing a great idea to life. We start by looking at the problem to solve, and then simplifying what seems complex (our version of fact finding and discovery). This allows us to get the message perfect. But we are not perfect. When we make a mistake, we are responsive and responsible, making it right and moving on to success.
We are now in the process of bringing these insights into our conversations with customers and prospects. You may see some updates on our site in the coming weeks.
We treasure our long-term relationships and the opportunity to see our clients succeed. If you are a client reading this, thank you. If you are not a client and are looking for an insanely talented group to get stuff done to solve your real problem and create success for you and your company, send us a note. We’d be happy to talk.
I also extend a big “thank you” to Doug Spong and Bill Manning and the Robins Kaplan team for opening the door for us to refresh our thinking. It was an amazing experience and we are grateful for their wisdom and generosity.
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