3 Challenging but necessary conversations to Grow Relationships


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In the marketing world, customer service plays a huge part when catering to clients. We need to make tough decisions that affect our business and the clients business but still relay information and decisions in a professional manner. Sometimes you aren’t doing your clients any favors by sugar-coating those thoughts. They need to hear from you – the expert – about how to make their brand better. That’s the reason they came to you in the first place, right? You’re the professional. And in my opinion, sometimes being straightforward works best. I find myself having these same three conversations with clients over and over again; so it is very possible you have too. Our job is to promote our client’s brand and do that successfully. Your style may not be as upfront as mine, but I think you will find as long as you speak the truth, loudly or toned-down, the effect will be respect. Your customers will trust you.  And they will keep coming back for that truth.

1.    I’m pretty sure your customer doesn’t want a pen. Your client calls, they have an event in a week and they need you to order 500 pens. How do you relay to your client that pens are not going to do their brand any good in that situation? I do not want them to spend their hard-earned marketing dollars on something that’s going to sit in an office drawer with 100 other promotional pens. Unless they are giving away the prestigious Montblanc™. In that case, bring it on!! My point is this: at every trade show, every event, the most common giveaway is a pen.

Ask your client, “Who are you trying to attract?” Once we know the who, we can figure out the best where we can place your brand. There are hundreds of usable, pertinent and quickly deliverable promotional items that will meet your client’s needs. Headed to a cooking expo? Let’s give away branded basting brushes instead of a pen. And just to let you know, I have nothing against pens- love pens! Just not for a client’s brand, every time, all the time.

2.    Let’s not focus on what you like; what does your customer like? Too often, brand managers are focused on what they like to put their brand on. If you really take a deep look at your target audience, you’ll find how to sell the way your customers want to be sold to. Try asking your client to step into their customer’s shoes. Find out what thrills their customers. Personally, I am not a fan of troll-like, crazy haired, bobble head post-it note holders. But guess who is? That hilarious, fun-loving receptionist at the biggest health care system in the nation that you are trying to do business with does. Putting personal preferences aside and thinking about the giveaway recipient could reap big benefits.

3.    The Theme is more important than the Thing. A tri-fold brochure is just a piece of paper that is folded into three sections. What you put on that paper makes the brochure compelling and intriguing, or, the first thing the recipient throws away. The initial brainstorming and effort that is put in to defining your brand, identifying the images and words that speak to your brand’s customers, is so very crucial. Those details are the difference between successful marketing and the trash can. It doesn’t take any more time or energy to design badly than it does to design well — so take your time on the theme of your print pieces and their call to action.

I tell my clients this: I don’t have children, but your brand is my baby. I want to raise your brand right and help it grow and prosper. So heed my advice; try to speak the truth to your clients, sugar-free or not. Just make sure to take care of your brand babies and raise ‘em right.

AboutKimble Bosworth

I have a horrible case of ADD and often exaggerate numbers. I seduce crowds with my unrehearsed and frequently unfiltered public speaking. I can pilot an innertube down a raging river with remarkable accuracy and I can cook five minute oats in under four minutes. I am an expert in plastering corners, a hopeful romantic and an outlaw in China. Occasionally, I survive airplane crash landings. When I’m bored I create elaborate Sharpie fantasy universes in spiral journal notebooks. I enjoy vacant, drained pool skateboarding. On Fridays, after work, I give marketing advice to growing companies over beers at no charge. I sleep with my eyes open. I have had tea with monks at the Golden Pavillion. I advised the British not to adopt the Euro. My love story has won countless gift baskets from Valentines Day radio call in shows. I once read A Hundred Years of Solitude, Baseball: A History and the entire works of Dr. Seuss in one day and still had time to build an Adirondack chair from a used pallet that evening. I can sing or recite the commercials for every food item in the supermarket. I dance, I sing loudly and off key at inappropriate times and I have no debt. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full contact Pinterest. I am convinced that the reason for civilization’s decline is the mansard roof. I died when I was 15. I got better. And, you may not know this, but I invented the cheeseburger.


  1. Kimble,
    This is a great post. Too many promo product providers just say “yes i can” rather than “yes I can, however, can we talk about your goal?” Helping the customer achieve their marketing goal while managing their brand is critical.
    Well done!


  2. A very well written article Kimble!

    When a marketing campaign starts with a measurable goal, only then can we anticipate the actions/reactions. One can always find a ‘cheaper pen’. On the other hand, if we propose a well thought-out marketing strategy, our clients will agree that this is money well spent. Scaled to the specific business goals we deliver.

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