06 Mar 2014

Maine vs. Madison Avenue

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Agency | Maine
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There's a famous marketing phrase that almost everyone has heard.

"Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM."

I know, I am not the first person to write on this topic (don’t Google Search it for crying out loud). And I won’t be the last. I will make a claim that things have changed since the 70s, 80s and 90s.

The power of FUD

At a time when computers were a mystery, the implied promise was that you couldn't go wrong hiring the leading firm. Or at least, if it did go wrong, your ass was covered. They called this “FUD.” Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. That was the basis for the phrase.

Still true? I think people still think so, but I suggest that your ass is no longer quite as covered.

Blame the Internet.

Over the years, Rinck has lost quite a few pitches to surprising companies. Leo Burnet (huge agency), Havas (worldwide agency network), to name two.  Honestly, Rinck shouldn't even be in the room against these giants in our industry.

But we are.

And the reason is that the Internet has leveled the playing field in profound ways.

First: Talent.

It's no secret that there's great talent in big cities.

It's also no secret that there's talent everywhere. For some talent, the big cities are too much of a lifestyle tradeoff. I challenge any major company to look at the remarkable number of still photographers in Portland, Maine and suggest that you can get better work anywhere else. You can pay more, but you can't buy better. (Plus there's lobster.)

Second: Cost

The overhead in Maine is not the same as the overhead in TriBeCa. Or The Loop. Or “Downtown.” From real estate costs to technology overhead, there are differences between the major U.S. urban centers and other places where there is remarkable talent.

Third: Fiber Optics

Our data rates are more competitive than larger cities. So our ability to do business at a distance is significantly less as a component of overhead.

Fourth: Awareness

Just because we're up in the right hand corner of the country doesn't mean we don’t see marketing from everywhere else. We see what's coming out of New York, Chicago, Tokyo. They may not see what we do though. And that brings me to...

Fifth: Innovation

It's amazing how even creative organizations become rigid quickly. Each department has it's own function, budget, pecking order.

As a smaller firm, we just don't have those hurdles, especially the financially based hurdles, to jump over before we EVEN LOOK at the marketing challenge.

Our process embraces innovation. Testing. Trial. New, unique, remarkable. Not innovation for innovation's sake. We actually have more to lose than a major marketing firm. We do smart innovation. A sense of what can and should work, using some of the latest ideas and highest standards.

Bigger is Better vs. Small is Beautiful

I don't want Rinck to be a small company. I want Rinck to be the right company for a specific client. But from the client perspective, I don't think that the CYA argument remains valid. Choosing the safe agency can just as easily get you canned if the results, the innovation, the ability to show ROI, the responsiveness of your partner is lacking.

It costs nothing to at least look. And you know, you're going to love what happens next.