Life on the other side of the desk is different. Not bad different, just different. For context, indulge me on a quick trip down memory lane.
In 2011, I joined Phillip Stutts & Company (yes, I was the “and company”) as the VP of media strategies. Phillip’s vision and drive launched Go BIG Media (in 2015), and I honed my skills in marketing, branding, video production and digital campaign strategies with an emphasis on campaigns.
I am grateful for that experience: Phillip armed me with the skills to win campaigns, but most importantly he showed me how to be purpose-driven in my work, and life.
Now that I’ve moved on from that experienced, and sit on the other side of the desk, I have three lessons-learned to share with you.
The why factor
As a consultant, it was my job to be all-in for my clients’ goals. But before that, you must have enough self-awareness to know who you are. Tony Robbins will tell you “success without fulfillment is failure.” He’s right. So before you can be all-in for clients, be all-in for yourself. Be purpose-driven.
Will you align with 100 percent of your client’s views or issues? Not likely. But find where you connect by getting to know them on a professional and personal level. I wanted to spend time with my clients, get to know them, hear how they talk, and see how they interact with people. All of that only helped as I worked to carry their voice throughout the campaign or project.
Now, on this side of the desk, I look out for consultants who do the same. More than just consultants I look for partners who do the same. As a consultant, I was weirdly irked by the word “vendor.” Vendors sell you things — paper, reusable coffee cups, bulk nuts. Good consultants join you on your journey as a partner, and I try and keep an eye out for that level of service in the consultants that I work with now.
Leverage your knowledge, learn from where you lack
If you’ve been a consultant of any kind and then shifted to an on-staff position, as I have, it can be easy to fall into the thinking of, “I’ve done this before.” While you might, I think it’s best to leverage your knowledge and at the same time learn from what you don’t know.
At my old firm, we constantly pushed to provide our clients with the best service in the business, and we forced ourselves to innovate. To wit, we were running fairly sophisticated digital campaigns and were quick to find new capabilities available to us.
But four years later, and over a year removed from my time as a consultant, there are new tricks to the trade and more barriers in place for success. There are more hurdles to get in front of our audiences, and the game of reaching them involves a constantly evolving map and set of rules that no longer occurs on a cycle or annual basis, but seemingly every four-six months.
Knowing that, I look to leverage my understanding and knowledge on digital marketing and campaigns when working with consultants now. I ask in-depth questions based on that experience, and I learn from the new strategies or technologies available based on the recommendations of my partners.
Substitute the word voter for (fill in the blank)
When running campaigns, we had to deliver our candidate’s message to voters where they were consuming information online, in an effort to get them to walk into a voting booth and pick our candidate ultimately. The same principles apply in almost any line of marketing or communications. Sitting in the chair of interim president at Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a statewide non-profit that supports parental school choice, my team and I are charged with similar directives. Here’s how:
A major bucket of our work at PEFNC is helping parents utilize state-sponsored scholarships to send their child to a private school of their choice. Our parents are our voters, and we’re approaching them that way.
First, we educate parents on their options. Like a campaign, we’re building name ID with our organization and at the same time, their educational choices.
Second, we deliver specific messages to them moving them along the process, almost like a persuasion campaign. There are multiple steps along that path, all leading up to the final big ask.
Finally, we mobilize our parents to take action. That’s right, we get out the vote by ensuring they enroll their child in the school of their choice with their new scholarship.
These are all similar tactics utilized in campaigns every day, and our non-profit has just substituted the word voter with parent. If we don’t turn them out to vote, then all of our efforts before have essentially been for not, and we lose on election day.
Lessons learned as I know sit on the other side of the desk enjoying the view.
Brian Jodice is the interim president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a statewide organization that support greater educational options through parental school choice. Before joining PEFNC, Jodice was the president of media strategies at Go BIG Media, Inc., where he worked with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and the American Federation for Children.