In business, especially in our business, things die. Or, in less dramatic terms, clients come and go. And honestly, it can be a bummer. Just when you thought things were going great there is a management change and you’re out. Nothing you can do it about. No hard feelings, just business.
The death of a client really used to bother me, especially because you put so much into what you do for them and there is a part of you that believes they will be there forever. But they won’t. No one lasts that long. So my new feeling is when a client passes, go higher. Instead of getting upset and circling the wagons, get BIGGER. Because if you don’t you will just keep shrinking.
Our business isn’t a numbers game, and I know quite a few agencies that operate that way. We aim to be a strategic partner to our clients, even if they only choose to use us in a more administrative capacity. But even though we don’t play by the numbers, we always need to expand, because that is just the way it works in our industry. So, if you’re feeling like things are getting smaller rather than getting bigger, remember that for something to grow it often has to die first.
My world was atwitter (pun intended) yesterday upon the appearance of Lauren Benet Stephenson’s story in WWD entitled, “Social Media Rewrites the Rules for Brands.” The big news (gasp!) was that Gucci, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan and other fashion overlords are now baptizing social media platforms as valid and acceptable modes of communication.
Now, my initial reaction to the cover story was one of anticipation. I was excited to read the story to hear about, oh I don’t know, something NEW as in “news” that was happening. But it was a total snooze. I was more than disappointed. I was embarrassed for my industry, which I often defend to friends who work for the State Department and economic think tanks.
I really felt that the entire article made us (all us purveyors of fashion and style) look like dinosaurs. We, the people who supposedly predict what billions will be purchasing and lusting after for fall 2010 in July 2009, are talking about Facebook NOW. Here in lies my issue. And, furthermore my friends, when we are all clearly WAY behind the times can we not announce it on the cover of our industry bible? The headline may as well have read: “Social Media Exposes the Close Minded Nature of the Fashion Industry.” Now, there’s a story I’d like to read in WWD. Oh, snap.
I was speaking with a colleague recently about WWD and he/she (gender has been disguised to protect the innocent!) made a disparaging comment about the paper. We were ranking the power of various media outlets. Now, we have (as I have said before) a wide range of clients in both the mass and luxury sectors. For some, WWD is the ultimate media destination. A good story in that publication can really put one of our fashion clients on the map, or at the very least validate their existence. It’s a POWERFUL platform. I get daily media alerts on the state of the industry and I can tell you understanding where a particular brand stands on 4th quarter earnings can say a lot about the state of the union.
I remember the day (many years ago) when we started considering WWD in the same league as bigger papers for exclusives—up against the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. With it’s significantly smaller circ you might think, “Hmmm.” But when your fashion brand needs recognition in the marketplace there really is no competition. We had an ex-WWD staffer work for us years ago and she said the paper would spend forever agonizing over it’s title for the front cover. (INSERT TITLE FROM DAY). They knew the power of their paper.
When I lived in Miami and worked in Bal Harbor shops during college I would buy WWD just to brush up on my industry news (not that I needed it then). I loved it. The paper seemed like this insider’s peek into a rarified world. Back then European fashion hit the states 6-months post runway. Nothing was instant then, there was no Internet. It definitely added to fashion’s mystique. And WWD was a way to access this fabulous world.
So, after breezing by my colleague’s comment, I decided to address it later in the day. I explained that fashion was a multi-billion dollar industry that accounted for tons of jobs and all kinds of economic stimulus and that though you might not love the paper you can’t deny it’s importance. This person agreed (honestly, they made the comment in passing before thinking it through). So, all was well again—order restored. WWD, we love you.
Source: Cover page of today's WWD paper from www.wwd.com