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If after working with a client for five years they firmly believe the way they currently do business was their idea, that they always had marketing budgets, great strategic plans, fabulous marketing directors and graphic designers, incredible personnel annual reviews, outstanding corporate in-house communication, terrific personal relationships with publishers, the highest evaluations for their speaking engagements, along with massive national and international notoriety, then I have succeeded.

Change management is about transformation. Becoming something different takes work. Hard Work. So when the change takes place, ownership is a natural conclusion. And that’s a good thing.

Often in order to brand or reimage a firm many things need to happen that go way beyond public relations and conceptual designs for new marketing materials. 

I show my clients the value of strategic plans, budgets, integrated systems, annual personnel reviews, ethics, corporate etiquette, and transparent internal communication. If a client hasn’t spoken at a conference, then I coach them, help them apply, and may even hire another professional to polish their performance further. If there isn’t a database in place, then I create one that the entire firm can utilize. For a profession fixated on billable hours it has always been fascinating to me how much time gets wasted by not having the newest most advanced integrated systems that the entire firm has access to and that works smoothly with accounting, marketing, business development, and project managers. Real time desktop results-daily.

It takes time to get the house in order. In just about every case I hire and train the entire marketing and business development departments. I often hire the switchboard operators too as they are key to the first impression in marketing. To find just the right angle for a reimage like the Green Heart of Pittsburgh for the Phipps takes what seems like forever. To redesign a website and corporate collateral material can run as long as a year, take up professional time in meetings, and cause all kinds of contentious feelings. Change management is messy. It is two steps back nine forward another back kind of process. Not all employees are sold on it at first and getting total acceptance of plans can often take years. If firms have a culture of being proactive rather than reactive, and if they’re positive verses negative, then the process can go a tad smoother. A positive approach, with all parties at the table from the start, produces a much faster and better result--always.

Because firms have several principals making decisions, their individual personalities can often be polar opposites. Their ideas about how the firm should be run often seem as different as day and night. In order to affect change, I design plans that build on their common goals and expectations, while showing them that building consensus among themselves ultimately drives a much more cooperative work environment. 

As part of the agreement with my firm, clients agree to meet regularly, to take coaching, and to follow and implement plans. 

Ultimately, a firm has to match whatever it wants to become. Getting to that point takes time and a willingness to achieve that end result. “It’s a process.”  I say that phrase a lot.


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