Business Karma, (or just Duh)

I’m not very religious or superstitious, and I’m just humble enough to be a good Midwesterner (“aw shucks, it was a team effort and I’ve been lucky”). But I’m a rabid believer in business karma. Because of this, the first value of the agency I founded is “Do the right thing for your clients and good things will follow.” Seems pretty obvious (as I said – Duh), right?

Business karma isn’t luck or fate, and it’s not sacrificing yourself or your team to the point of exhaustion and penury: It’s a deliberate state of mind and achievement. To achieve it, you have to define what business karma is, and establish a process to operationalize its philosophy. The first and most important step is to define who takes priority: yourself, your staff, or your client. As I go back to our primary value: do right by the client and good things will follow – the client comes first.

Let’s get past the table stakes that you have to be smart, forward-thinking, and results-driven. I achieve business karma through empathy – understanding my clients’ real needs and formulating a plan for them that will get them there, even if it means there isn’t a place for me. This may be telling a client to wait to start our work until a redesign ensures a better conversion rate. It may push a client away from search engine optimization because creative branding is needed first. It may be retiring an account and helping the client hire internally. There are also times when you retire an account because the client is stinkin’ mean; after all, karma is a two-way street, natch.

Business karma involves understanding the rhythm of a client’s ecosystem, and where my work falls into the priority of the enterprise. It involves taking ownership of results and truly caring about what is going to happen to the project. I joke that the unofficial motto of my agency is, “get your client their Christmas bonus.” Simple as that sounds, it rolls a lot of ideas into six words: knowing the client’s company goals; knowing the client’s group and individual goals; helping the client plan, forecast, execute and measure; understanding the business cycle and competitive landscape; laying out the consumer journey and measuring the ROI of my programs; earning my keep; and earning the client’s trust and loyalty. Do this right, and not only do you graduate from vendor to partner but good things will follow.

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