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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  July 10, 2014

The Top (And Almost Fatal) Mistake Big Agencies Make

For years, I have preached the value of doing the deep-dive into the marketplace and the players. Here’s a short trip to the dark side on why this analysis is important.

For 40 years, the National Speaker Association (NSA) has been a cool community for professional speakers. Like many industries, things have changed and leadership knew a new brand was needed. They did the right things at first: hired outside help and analyzed the membership. Yep, the players are different now and it’s time to be more inclusive. So far, so good.

The agency hired came up with a bold move: to change the name to Platform. Apparently, leadership liked it — it was one word, it was bold and it would include everyone. The problem: no one checked to see if anyone else was using Platform.  Turns out, several folks were. One organization was prominent, providing not only a conference, a community and an academy, but also a NYT best-selling book.  Bummer.

You can imagine what happened right after the announcement. The backlash was swift and very loud. Mutiny from the inside and possible legal action from the outside were real threats. Leadership back tracked, appealed for calm and pressed the pause button. Will be interesting to see their next move.

There were too many mistakes in the rollout to discuss here (someone could write a book). Unfortunately, the above blunder is the most common:  we fall in love with our idea and become blind to outside forces. By the time we learn of our mistake, more time, energy and money is spent to fix the damage. Too many folks are seduced with clever and forget about the clarity. This is the #1 reason why experts don’t become thought leaders.

Market analysis can be boring. It can be tedious. And it is just as important as the message. Without the right strategy, clever words set us up for failure that we don’t see coming. Until it’s too late.

 

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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.