Sometimes are you better off not saying the right thing?

terrible names for a business

Must be a great shop!

At this stage between the initial briefing meeting and the time spent researching and working on the plan we have spent well over a day’s work before we meet with the prospect and present our Marketing\PR plan for his business.

This is always a tricky stage for us – if you want to have a chance of winning the new account you have to punch in the time, put in the research, brainstorm and put all your best ideas and thinking into the plan.

We don’t get paid for this but we do obviously hope that the client likes what we are proposing and then engages us to execute the plan for them – Put your best foot forward if you are serious about winning the business.

We are two hours into our presentation and the prospect seems to be embracing the plan and it is all looking very positive. Our plans are always quite comprehensive and cover everything from being found on-line, a review of marketing collateral and website, a PR plan including ideas that should generate the right media coverage and a social media plan to accelerate all of these efforts.

At the end of the presentation, while everything seems to be going well there is one huge, risky issue that we wish to discuss.

We feel your business name isn’t right” we gently explain to the prospect. This could be as delicate as telling someone you don’t like their child’s name!

But what about my website, my branding, the money I’ve invested to date in advertising, pushing the name out there?” he asks.

It is saying the wrong thing about your business, it is giving the wrong impression of what you are about” … he seems to be digesting and contemplating what we are saying , so we continue “we feel strongly that we would be doing a huge disservice to you if we drove on with a plan without first addressing the issue of your business name“.

After a few minutes he admitted that he always had some concerns about the name “fit” and we were the only (maybe foolish?) ones he met that had raised the issue.

We presented him with some alternative names that we felt more accurately captured the essence of the business offering and he seemed genuinely interested in them.

In truth we could have made life easier for ourselves and probably for him by just ignoring the business name issue and presenting a plan that was in keeping exactly to the brief.

He asked us to leave the plan with him to mull over while he went on leave and we are still waiting to hear…

Sometimes are you better off not saying the right thing?

(p.s. – We’ll let you know how this one turns out!)

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a PR firm with offices in Cork and Dublin

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19 Responses to “Sometimes are you better off not saying the right thing?”

  1. debi Says:

    This is exactly what we would like to hear as business owners .When we hire professionals to do a job,we are hiring their expertise and knowledge and we would prefer to be told that something we were doing was not exactly right and the professional could make it better. +1 for this blog:)

  2. Gary O'Connell Says:

    Greg, I would think honesty is always the best policy. As you know only too well the negative perception of PR is based on agencies promising results they just cannot deliver. Trust and confidence are key and you need to present a realistic, viable and achievable proposal. I know only too well that trying to build a campaign around a company with an ambiguous and misleading name is extremely difficult. Best of luck with the account and great post.

  3. redbarn Says:

    Just heard from the Irish Times that an Opinion piece I submitted will be in the paper tomorrow. Your …not saying the right thing – therefore immediately resonated because this piece is certainly not saying the right thing. I would always go for honesty but that can be done in many ways, how you package the message is probably more important in your line of work.

  4. Caroline Says:

    Well Done Greg and team. Not easy but the right thing to do, whatever the outcome. I admire what you do and how you go about doing it. I hope it goes well for you and look forward to hearing the result.

  5. Fergal Bell Says:

    I think you took the right approach Greg but then I would want to know the opinion of the professional. It’s a tricky one because, as you said, it’s very personal to the individual. Even if he initially reacts defensively, hopefully he would later think about what you’ve said and reflect on where it’s coming from i.e. It’s from a professional and it’s not personal.

    I’d imagine your approach would help to lay the foundations of a strong relationship.

    Good luck!

  6. Dermot Lawless Says:

    This touches on themes that come to the fore time and time again, that of honesty and professionalism. I declined to work with a client yesterday after weeks of preparation, when their lack of honesty and professionalism made me realise I shouldnt lower my standards just to win a contract. Keeping to high standards and making sure that you can live with yourself can make for a lonely road at times. Well done for speaking your mind Greg, I look forward to the follow up

  7. Jim Powell (@talktojimmer) Says:

    OMG your name is the problem bollocks.

    What do you think to these company names and their profiles? Shell, Carphonewarehouse (don’t sell carphones and don’t have a warehouse), Apple, Marks and Spencers, WPP Group and Cash for Gold (okay not the last one)

    You should also know before you present to the prospect what the agreed problem is!! Your presentation is just and only to fix the problems they agree in meeting 1 and 2 if there was one and nothing else. Never bring up other problems. Always bring up problems early and honestly.

    This is why pitches are ruined someone starts fixing something else on the spot The problems must come up in meeting 1. Always no exceptions

    Also all of the creative world should be paid for pitches and proposal IMO.

  8. Ger Says:

    perhaps if you presented things in such a way that the client actually made the suggestion….a little gentle nudge in the direction, like you do with toddlers…choices…

  9. Paul Hennessy Says:

    Risky strategy with a 50/50 chance of winning – Make it part of the brief to review with client once they have committed to the plan – at least they have some skin in the game also – and your time invested is rewarded.

  10. Orla Kelly Says:

    Well done for sticking with your professional intuition-if he has any business sense, he will come back.

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