The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


The Art Of The Schmooze …
August 23, 2011, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

When I was starting in adland, I would hear people talk ‘schmoozing’.

You know what it is, where a client is taken out – normally by someone in client management – and “entertained”.

Now the thing is, people would always say the word ‘schmooze’ as if it was dirty … the equivilent of cheating on your wife but buying her a bunch of flowers on the way home. From a petrol station forecourt.

Now of course I know there have been all manner of dirty, filthy, morally corrupt things done under the guise of “entertaining the client” … however I would still say they are the exception rather than the rule, especially in adland.

Schmoozing doesn’t mean being underhand. Nor does it mean being slimy … intact I’d go as far to say that schmoozing is a really important thing and planners should be doing it far more than they do.

I’m not talking about long lunches, strip clubs or games of golf … I’m talking about the simple act of having a meal together.

Now I appreciate that might disappoint some … however the simple lunch or dinner is an amazing weapon.

I don’t mean it because you can try to win favor by getting them pissed … I mean it because it allows you to talk to them in a neutral environment … where previously ‘sensitive’ issues suddenly lose their explosiveness … where you can talk about life, not just work and start to connect on a deeper level – at least more than the day-to-day interactions you probably normally manage.

You get to discuss the future … fears, wants, hopes and dreams … and then you can go back to the office and try and do something about making it happen … something that can open the door to mutual benefit and belief … something that can get you more influence and creativity over their approach … something that can get you to deliver them stronger and more meaningful results.

Something that let’s you both remember how powerful, effective and important the advertising business can actually be …

You might think this is all airy-fairy, but as I wrote previously, half the battle to getting good work is having trust, respect and understanding and if all your interactions are based around an office table, rather than a dining table – the chances of you being able to achieve that get seriously limited.

So next time you’re wondering how you can get a client to start doing better, bolder, more meaningful things – forget about thinking of ways to show them how “utterly-fucking-amazing-you-are-and-how-stupid-they-must-be-if-they-turn-it-down” and give schmoozing strategy a go … because having a strong relationship with the client doesn’t mean you’re a creep or in account service [that is not meant to sound like I’m discounting them, in fact, I think they possibly have the toughest job of anyone in adland], it means you’re increasing the odds of doing the sort of work that others out there will talk about with a distinctly envious tone in their voice. And green eyes.


36 Comments so far
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Absolutely agree. A meal can be a powerful thing with clients, and crew for that matter. Sometimes, it’s the simplest acts, like buying them a bottle of water, that can change the tone of a relationship for the better.

In other news, I frickin love that image you’ve got there. Except the people need to be nastier. And covered in sludge.

Comment by Alex

Any excuse to charge lunch on expenses.

Comment by Billy Whizz

and claim diet coke with ice and no fucking lemon and a r2d2 pile of bollocks was a business investment. and we said yes. what a bunch of fuckwits. give an inch hell take 10 fucking miles.

Comment by andy@cynic

Don’t forget the magazines … I charged us for all the magazines.

Comment by Rob

But you never got me my hustler.

Comment by Billy Whizz

How does getting pissed on cough sweets and then insulting the client fit in with this advice Rob?

Comment by Billy Whizz

Had to happen but I agree with both your comments.

Comment by DH

Parasite.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Desperate.

Comment by DH

As the term “schmooze” has negative connotations, why not call it “lunch”. Look at me, I’ve just repositioned something and I’m not even a planner.

Comment by DH

You insulting the yiddish eh ya scmuck?

Comment by Alex

Are you insulting my intelligence?

Comment by DH

Not at all. Though I’m wondering where the negative connotations of schmooze come from, silliness aside. Do you really think schmoozing = ass kissing?

Comment by Alex

schmooze is seen as more than ass kissing, its shoving your fucking head so far up that all you can see are the fucking shoes.

Comment by andy@cynic

frickin hell, talk about the bastardisation of the original meaning…

Comment by Alex

I don’t know what the original meaning was Alex, but to many, it’s what Andy describes which is possibly why so many people are vehemently opposed to doing it … though how that manifests itself into doing nothing with their clients is another thing altogether.

Comment by Rob

Judging by your waistline last month, you do a lot of schmoozing.

Comment by John

But you did extract innumerable insights and built up a rapport that led you to a revealing night in Shoreditch. Case proven.

Comment by John

All depends on who paid for lunch.

Comment by DH

Me. He wouldn’t have met me otherwise. Even John isn’t that mental/desperate/stupid.

Comment by Rob

Rob, off topic, but have you heard about Dickie’s pad?

Comment by DH

and that oscar whore saved the day. talk about the fucking twilight zone.

Comment by andy@cynic

have you heard from auntie?

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes and thank god he’s fine. That’ll teach him to be the ultimate schmoozer won’t it. Do you think we should mention to someone his pyromaniac tendencies?

Comment by Rob

The fact some planners think they can do their job independently of clients and colleagues amazes me. You may say schmoozing has negative connotations but for some, any direct interaction with a client seems to induce the same level of fear and loathing. This is a good reminder of the power and importance of relationships but if anyone reads this and it changes their view of how planners should be conducting themselves, maybe they’re not suited to the discipline in the first place.

Comment by Pete

I think the problem lies as much in thinking of it as entertaining. It’s much more about educating.

Comment by John

depends on which fucker is doing it. the words campbell and educating dont go together unless its to learn what the fuck you shouldnt be doing.

Comment by andy@cynic

The classic argument is that if you’re not in account management and start becoming too close with the clients, they’ll bother you countless times a day and won’t let you do your work properly, thus the need for a constant intermediary.

I don’t necessarily agree with it and I like your version better, though I can see how it could get out of control.

Comment by Rafik

If you’re dealing with the right person – ie: the person who can influence change rather than the person who is only empowered to say no – then I’d say they’d be too busy to bother you too much and if they do, then it’s a good thing because it means you’re becoming invaluable, which is the best way to influence the outcomes you believe in.

But more than that, the people who complain are often the people who have never done it which immediately means their viewpoint is lacking a lot of substance.

Comment by Rob

So you’ve got to make sure you’re schmoozing the right people too 🙂

Comment by Rafik

not if you like doing all that fucking work for absofuckinglutely fuck all you dont. too many fuckers enjoy the bitching more than the pursuit of doing something worthfuckingwhile. cocks.

Comment by andy@cynic

What Andy said. Amazingly!

Comment by Rob

So account management exists to keep the customer away from the planners/creatives? That sounds healthy.

Comment by John

How about ‘going for a beer’ with a client? Surely even Andy and George Parker would enjoy that one.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Going for a drink is awesome unless you’re like me, and only drink diet coke [ice, no lemon] because they spend the whole time being either [1] bored [2] trying to work out if I’m an alcoholic.

For everyone else, it’s great – especially if you have a camera to capture those ‘awkward’ moments. Ha.

Comment by Rob

you dont need to drink diet fucking coke in a pub to bore people campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic




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