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Biggest Wins In Our Marketing & Advertising Careers - Part 1

From Twin Creek Media's YouTube Channel:

It's always important to celebrate the wins - big or small! In this episode, we flip the narrative from our last two episodes on "Biggest Losers" to talk about the "Biggest Wins" in our marketing and advertising careers.

Let's start!

James: Welcome to the show! It's Noah and James, and we're talking about our greatest wins and greatest losses in our careers over the years in marketing and advertising. So, this is the winning episode. We get to be winners today! I had to buy like an entire box of Kleenex for Noah last time because he burst into tears after the show ended, but have you recovered now?

Noah: Well, it was hard to get over all those losses, but I'm back!

James: That's good, and you've had some time to capture some wins, too!

A Million Dollar Win!

Noah: The biggest win I ever had was Miller Lite.

James: Like the drink? Drinking a beer is your biggest achievement?!

Noah: Haha, yeah, I mean, I pitched on it twice, actually. So this is a fun story. When I first pitched on Miller Lite, they were not ready to launch, so they didn't choose an agency. Since then, I had left, and they went to a different agency, but they came back because they liked the pitch. They said, “Noah, do you want to pitch again?” I did. So we pitched on it competitively against another much larger agency and ended up winning. And that was like the biggest win because it was the largest launch in, I believe it was 2014 and the largest budget spend of almost any of the beer brands.

James: That's amazing! So it would have been millions of dollars?

Noah: Oh yeah, it was crazy!

A $6000 Win!

James: My win looks very, very weak compared to that one, but you have to remember this was at the very beginning of my career. I just came out of college, so one of the first projects my buddy and I got was for a Two-Way Radio Communications and Equipment Company, building an e-commerce website. So we were fresh out of school, we knew the latest technology, we were full of confidence and the project was $6,000. So, you know, not millions, but it was $6,000. And we thought this was, at the time by far the biggest contract we ever landed! We were on top of the Moon! This was going to pay us for two months! We were only making $3,000 a month or so working from home; this was way back in 2006 or 2007.

But it didn't go as planned, and this was a bit of a scope issue. We had no idea what we were doing; we were just full of confidence - false confidence. So the project would have been okay if it did take two months but it took eight months. It was very, very complicated, the software was a little newish, and it wasn't quite as easy to use as these days, and there were a lot of learning curves to do, so really, it was the first time we built something this big! And because we didn't know what we were doing, we had to learn everything for the first time and that's a red flag.

So if we get into a project now and we haven't done it before, should you even attempt at this point, because you have a high chance of screwing it up or even if you're successful, which we were in the end, we didn't make any money.

So I made about $10 to $15 an hour, and once I figured out how many hours I put into the project, my friend Thomas (who's now one of the owners of this company), all these years later, he, calculated his rate of return and it was five bucks. So he made $5 an hour! He's like, well, if I'm doing this, I could have made more money flipping burgers at McDonald's, but here I am.

But at least he had the experience! James

Noah: Yeah, and it's a bit of an investment in knowledge and experience.

James: That's what we had to chalk it up to; otherwise, you just feel depressed, right? See, you got paid to learn something, but man, it was a hard lesson. Still a win!

Meeting Expectations

Noah: Another big win for me would be one of the brands that I worked on was my first large contract as a small company, and unlike yours the margins were huge on that one because it's all design work. I knew the scope; I knew how to design packaging. I had just started up my own design packaging firm, and it was in the category that I'm familiar with, which is Alcoholic beverages, it was the largest rebrand that year, and it's the largest volume Wine in Canada. So it was a very very big deal and that was again a competitive pitch against the same agency that I beat for Miller Lite.

So, I beat them twice at two different agencies. I felt really good about myself when we won the competitive bid, and then we executed and ended up creating almost 300 different SKUs. And when you are creating new SKUs and new packages, you do the master rebrand first, and you charge for each incremental piece of packaging, so by the time you get to the hundredth of them, you're starting to make a pretty good profit and by the time you get to 300, woah!

James: We talked about being out of scope, not meeting client expectations, so this is one where you stayed in scope to yourself creatively and so you didn't sabotage yourself by overdoing something that they didn't ask for and also the client had an expectation which you met. You guys understood what the project was about, and you've done it before. It's just such a good match!

The Perfect Match

James: So I'm going to piggyback on your story because the win I had is less of a specific moment and more of a journey. Our agency is now 19 years old. Twin Creek Media has been through lots of obstacles and hurdles and lessons along the way. But knowing what you’re good at and turning that into a repeatable process and hiring the right people - this is kind of a mix of things and If you get it right in a lot of areas, you have the right people in the right seats in the bus, so your team is amazing, complementary strengths, hire people that are better than you at something.

Also, you have clients that match you on expectations, and that you can deliver on. And you have a system for that, that’s not based on going back to that $ 5-an-hour story - you don't even really think about how much you make per hour anymore because you are delivering something they're expecting and they have a standard for it and you meet that..

Some of the best projects we've ever done had nothing to do with how much time we’ve spent on it. The people working on the project came together with ideas and executed something that was absolutely perfect, and the campaign took off! James

Whatever it was, whatever we delivered - be it a website or a campaign that was for lead generation or a video or whatever it was - the success of it from a financial point of view for the agency for people like us was massive!

Not that you ever calculate it but, well I did calculate it one time. It was a branding project; I got paid $11,000. I actually felt so guilty I told the person that I only spent 45 minutes on this. Because it was a concept and then a design and I was actually finished and it was done. It was a weird one-off but at that time,

I made the same hourly rate as Bill Gates! James

So yeah, it was crazy, so it’s just neat wins like that, right, and you're delivering something of really high value. It’s detached from how much time was invested into it, and it becomes more of what the value of what you delivered to your client is. And that they're happy. They don't really care that they spent X amount on it. This agency that I did the branding project for, they had just spent $11,000 with another agency that didn't deliver anything that worked right, so he just wasted $11,000 completely and then in 45 minutes, you know, there was something delivered that the client absolutely loved and it was $8,500 so he was on top of the world. You know, he was a great value for money, in his opinion, because he just burned $11,000 on nothing.

So yeah, just neat stories.

Noah: Piggybacking on that and also kind of coming back to your first one, Do you take on things that you're not familiar with?

James: We'll leave that one there as a cliffhanger and put it into part two.

Noah: This one is so connected!

James: So click on “Biggest Wins” (Coming Soon) For more!

Check out our previous episode: Biggest Losers - Part 2: More Marketing Career Mistakes!

“Between Two Creeks” is Twin Creek Media’s weekly podcast series. You can find us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify. If you enjoy listening to the latest and wonkiest in marketing every week, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button! If you want us to amp up your marketing, click here to contact us and let’s chat!