Everything I Know About Partnerships, I Learned From Breaking Bad


Len Lamberg is an Interactive Account Manager here at Top Floor, responsible for matching up Top Floor capabilities with clients' needs.  We asked him what it takes to make this kind of partnership work - to make sure the clients are happy and their businesses are growing.  He told us he could tell us everything, then he proceeded to tell it to us four different ways! This is part two in the series, catch up on part one

Walter White: I am the one who knocks.

"Look out," they said.  "Digital is coming."

It wasn't long ago that B2B advertising was dominated by a couple of well-known industry directories. 

Get in them, and you had it made.  Broaden your reach through direct mail and ads in trade publications, and you were practically assured of success. 

Agencies were there to help, and to give your presence something unique with branding and promotion.  The object was to get your name in front of as many people as possible in the hopes that they would call, and let a salesperson close the sale.

Then the knock on the door shook up the whole world.  "You are in danger."

What companies learned was that customers weren't always waiting for someone to tell them what to buy.  They started looking for answers on their own: researching, learning and joining discussions where they shared solutions to common problems.  Sometimes they even spoke with competitors to see how they could grow a market.

(They called it "Making the pie bigger" instead of "Taking a bigger piece for myself.")

Companies that didn't see what was going on found that they weren't getting as many calls as they used to.  They blamed it on offshore competition, but globalization was just part of the story.  The real story was that customers were taking the lead.  They were looking for solutions anywhere the Internet lead them, from a company next door to China or India.

That knock on the door sped everything up.  Industries that had faced the same problems for generations suddenly found new ways to operate.  New companies sprung up based on emerging technologies without even taking the time to patent them. 

The panic spread from company to company.  Sales departments weren't producing.  Advertising channels weren't serving up qualified leads.  There were hushed meetings behind closed doors with marketing firms, branding and ID designers.  They even brought in jingle writers.  They waited for the knock on the door and whispered to look for the danger.

The Ones Who Did Not Worry

There were a few agencies that realized what was going on, and reassured clients.  They were the ones who were comfortable with the new technologies and the new style of getting the word out.  Sharing information and solutions, offering advice, discussing how to address problems common in their target industries.  They were the ones who got it, and they had something to say to their clients:

We are the knock on the door.

It doesn't just end with one client, either.  The digital marketing community itself has adopted the habit of sharing, collaboration and transparency.  Those CMS you hear about, Drupal and WordPress?  Those are all Open Source - that means that the community contributes the modules.  Some of the elite digital agencies (including Top Floor!) have Drupal contributors on-staff, so our clients are getting work done by people who are actually designing the framework.  Plus we make ongoing contributions to the social media community through blog postings such as this one.

The point is not to fear the knock on the door, but to see what's needed in the larger marketplace and help the whole community grow.  By making a better web experience (think finding real solutions, learning, exploring) for everyone, we know that we're helping our clients be more profitable. 

Stay tuned for part three: Everything I Know About Partnerships, I learned from the Wizard of Oz.

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