Are some business women cutting off their noses to spite their face?
An extraordinary thing happened yesterday. I arrived at a client meeting and was greeted by their inhouse / incumbent agency and felt like I had walked into a one-woman war zone.
It was suppose to be a meeting whereby both parties worked together on different projects to accelerate the growth of a company, working on the strengths of each agency - but it didn't quite go to plan.
Firstly, this woman walked into the room, didn't acknowledge me at all and sat down and started typing away on her computer. After 10 minutes, she was faced with having to be introduced to me and as she shook my hand, she nearly broke it. I hear men say that this happens with people who try to make a statement, but in 14 years of business, this has never happened to me. I have never met a woman who has shook my hand so aggressively that my fingers turned blue.
My first thought was about how the meeting was going to unroll and whether it was worth me being there.
Possibly, mission accomplished for her.
As the meeting continued, she was so aggressive that I had to tune out. I listened to her stamp her dominance and continually spruik her authority only to find myself thinking about what must be going through her mind to act so unprofessionally and like someone who came out of gangland and was plonked in the corporate space.
How this should have rolled out is really quite simple. This company had been with the client for many years and had no other client. They solely worked for this business and employed according to the businesses needs. The client emphatically respects and appreciates this inhouse support and rewards them accordingly.
The problem is that they have learnt on the job. They have no outside clients and therefore are not exposed to the many marketing techniques that exist in the world of marketing, nor with only 3 employees do they have the talents inhouse to provide the marketing direction of the company so that they are competing on an equal playing field as some of their competitors.
What they are really good at is understanding the product. They live and breathe the company day-in, day-out. No-one can compete with this type of knowledge but sometimes a business just needs an outside point of view to allow the company to see things differently, or receive an improved outcome on their marketing investment.
From a tactical point of view, they are great. They make things happen. But some of these things need to be tweaked so that the company connects better with customers and employees. That's where we come in.
Through the hostility, I explained that we were not there to take her business away from her, but rather, complement what they are doing. No different to a big corporate who has inhouse marketing and agencies with specific skills that work in synergy to produce powerful brands that engage customers on multiple levels. We talked on social media and customer engagement. Her reply: "We have social media - we do that for them." In fairness, the company has only 160 followers on Twitter and wonder why this medium is not driving people to their website. She further commented: "I don't think social media is going to help the bottom line of getting customers to sign up." Wow - really? Is this a marketer speaking? The clients business is focussed on Mums between the ages of 25 and 45 years.
This went down like a lead balloon.
At the end of the meeting decisions were made separately with management and we will be working with them on areas that will significantly improve their business - but we cannot work with their inhouse team. It is impossible. I could see the writing on the wall. This woman was incapable of working with an outside party that perhaps she didn't hire or get a mark-up on and "owned" in one way or another.
What all marketers need to understand is that there is plenty of work out there. In fact, the more marketing companies and professionals working in the space - the better. The biggest challenge is getting small businesses to understand that they need marketing in order to further accelerate their business growth. Play to your strengths and learn from others - I say! That's why I follow so many marketers on Twitter. They inspire me, challenge me and teach me things that they may have learnt before I did.
Have you ever been in this situation? Has someone ever nearly broken your hand when they have greeted you for a meeting or otherwise?
Are women cutting off their noses to spite their faces?Women are emotional beings. It is in our genetics. To protect what you have worked for makes sense. How this meeting should have rolled out is simple. The company should have outlined what they had been working on and explained the benefits of what they do for the organization in question. They then should have outlined areas that perhaps may possibly be outsourced to another party that doesn't impact on their business or what they do for the organization. By acting with aggression, a woman or a man for that matter is exposing their flaws and insecurities for everyone to see. It effects your personal brand and the ability for you to think clearly and therefore make informed decisions that are educated and not based on emotion.
With the US focusing on encouraging businesses to hire women-owned companies and collaborating with corporations to encourage women to work towards senior management positions - old school women need to ensure that their approach is still current. Women want to be respected and deserve to be placed on an equal playing field to their male counterparts - but if they really want to "win" then learn something from the way men conduct themselves in meetings and how by being diplomatic you can achieve more.
Making everyone feel like they have won, means that you have in fact walked out a winner.