If You Want The Same Crap, Hire The Same People

If You Want The Same Crap, Hire The Same People

By: Shelly Kramer
December 17, 2010

Boring, Boring, Boring

I discovered the “website” of Boone Oakley today quite by accident. Loved it so much that I had to stop what I was doing and write about it. You know the drill. Those interwebs – they’ll get you every time.

For those of you who don’t know, I live in the “fly-over zone.” That means Nowheresville. Dud City. Ain’t Nothing Going On Heresville. And I’ll admit it — as a transplanted New Yorker, it took me a long time to get my snotty nose out of the air and realize that great stuff goes on in places other than the coasts. And that there are really smart people – all over the place. Oh, and it would be remiss of me not to thank that rapscallion Al Gore for inventing the Internet, because now they’re all closer than ever and easier to find.

But even though I get it, I routinely have to dispel the notions of prospective clients (and peers) that just because my agency is in Kansas City and not in New York, LA or even Chicago (perhaps the most posh spot in the fly-over zone), we do great work. (And that “we” by the way is collective – not exclusive to my agency). Sometimes small and midsized agencies in non-fancy locales do even better work and, fairly regularly that work that is exponentially less expensive than what you might find elsewhere. Sometimes, in fancy cities, you have the “oh, this is LA so we have to add an extra $30K onto that web dev fee just because we’re super cool” pricing model. Here, not so much.

Like V3, Boone Oakley is located in a not-cool place. But based on the creativity evidenced by their website, I know they get it. And by “it” I mean simply this: if you’re a business and if you like looking, feeling and sounding like everyone else out there, that’s totally cool. And no doubt, if you want the same crap that everyone else does, hire the same people. Whether it’s for your marketing plan, creative work, your web development needs or for PR and social media. Cookie cutter agencies or poseurs are a dime a dozen. And sometimes the bigger they are (or they more they tell you how great the are) the more cookie cutter they are.

But what I know is this: great minds don’t always live on the coasts. They don’t always work in high rise buildings, and they don’t always cost an arm and a leg. Great minds work for large agencies and small ones. And sometimes they work from a mountain cabin, a cafe or while sitting at their kitchen tables. Great minds are everywhere. When I look for someone to hire or collaborate with, I look for the people who bring the most creativity, experience, work ethic and passion to the table. And where they live and/or where they office doesn’t factor into it – not one bit.

There’s incredible talent everywhere. So when you need it, do what I did years ago, and try getting your snotty nose out of the air and look around. I can promise that if you do, you’ll find amazing and amazingly talented people to work with. Oh, and watch this video – you’ll see immediately why I was inspired.

Image credit: John Alan

  • Sara at Saving For Someday

    Awesome! Just fantabulously AWESOME! I can’t tell you how loudly this rings true. Yes, there are great agencies in LA, NY, SF & Chicago. But I live in Phoenix and there are some great ones here too. Sure, there are the crappy ones. But by sheer numbers there are more crappy ones in LA, NY, SF & Chicago.

    I think it’s personal Ego and some big shot, self-important, self-appointed marketing genius wants to say ‘My agency is in NY!’. Well, la-de-fricken-dah! I want to send them some Grey Poupon too.

    I’m telling my husband about your agency, so get your fancy NY accent ready!

  • Anonymous

    I’m still rolling on the floor about the Grey Poupon. You’re hysterical!!
    That might have to go into the “best comment ever” file!

    *Shelly Kramer | V3 Integrated Marketing**
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    [email protected] | ** http://www.v3im.com | 816.200.2520 *
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  • Alex

    I’m thrilled to have signed a client with offices in Chicago, the coasts and even India. I should send this to them to congratulate them on their good taste!

  • Anonymous

    Great post, Shelly, and that video IS inspiring … LOVE that kind of humor. (Note to self: make funny video for new website)

    What I respect and admire most about these “off the NY/LA grid” agencies is their spunk and their ability to focus on the client and their clients MESSAGE (rather than give the client whatever is the latest trend or “works for the other guy” thing). These smaller agencies are manned by smart and FEARLESSLY creative people who either 1) worked for the BBBBBODDDglivyADHD agency and said “Eff YOU” or 2) had the sense not to and struck out on their own. You can’t get that level of creativity in the big, bad corporate ad world — there are too many cooks in the kitchen covering their asses because they all put too much salt in the soup and Gordon Ramsey is about to torch them. Honestly, I’ve watched some great young agencies in Durham lose their integrity and creative edge when they tried to emulate the bigger boys like McKinney. There is a lesson here but my brain cells suddenly died and I’ve lost my train of thought …

    Obviously those who don’t know V3 or balk at the location clearly aren’t following you on Twitter, Shelly. They don’t know what they’re missing! Thanks for sharing, sweets!


  • Anonymous

    LMAO. Not right now, but stalk me regularly :))

  • Anonymous

    You’re so modest. One of the many things I freaking love about you. That and the dreams.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Lori. My experience has been very similar to yours. And I am fortunate to have so many brilliant friends, many of whom I collaborate with regularly, who also realize that the “took many cooks in the kitchen” (which, by the way, I originally read as “too many cocks in the kitchen …. oopsie!) and “let’s cover our asses” mentality isn’t what they’re looking for. Hooray for that.

    My real inspiration for writing this post was the absolutely brilliant “website” that Boone Oakley did — and celebrating that kind of creative thinking. Doesn’t it just make you want to go hang out with them? It does me.

    Thanks for coming by missy!!

  • Great post Shelly. Great minds are everywhere. I partner at a digital agency and a couple of years ago we started hitting South America searching for talent. We were so happy with the results that we ended up opening offices in Santiago, Chile.

    Today we have an awesome team of the best designers and programmers in the region, they push the envelop and deliver great final product on a daily basis for US and global brands. Funny thing is big agencies in the region can’t believe it was produced there, right under their noses…

    Have a great weekend!

  • Amen. Since 2001 I’ve been able to work with people from all over. At first it was local, then regional and the last few years nationally. The internet has opened the world up to talented people everywhere. No longer are we bound by our desks in our towns. Talent doesn’t care about demographics. If I’m the most talented writer in the world, capable of solving any communications problem – I’m living in the Bahamas and Skyping. 😉

  • Oh God – I needed that! Poor Billy… Once again Shelly, you made my day 😀

  • Oh Toto we are definitely not in Kansas anymore!

    I struggle with this Shelly. I am a renegade. A 10%er. Sometimes I want to wake everyone up. But then I would lose my competitive strategic advantage. There is a reason why 50% of Ad Spend is wasted. Incentives for Agencies and their Clients don’t align. If you won a $50mil contract and after review you know your client can get the same bang for $40mil who would dare tell the client and reduce their billings. It is also why so many accounts change hands so often. I make fun of the lemmings on my website.

    What I didn’t know if you moved from NYC to KC. Gave up pizza for BBQ?

  • Thanks for sharing. God bless those that underestimate (me, you etc.) for tangential criteria. It makes it so much easier to succeed.

  • I grew up near Paris, France and lived in or very close to European capital cities till my early 40s so moving to where I live now was a major shock to my system. But like you Shelly, as soon as I accepted that there are great things happening everywhere I was able to see them and enjoy them! I even became that great mind who works at her kitchen table and started enjoying life a lot more than I had ever before!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve lived that life – know it well. And the kitchen table can be kind of nice (until, of course, someone needs to eat there!)

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. I do so enjoy being underestimated, Barry.

  • Anonymous

    Not a BBQ fan (at least not in a big way), and yearn for “real” pizza (a/k/a New York pizza) on a daily basis. Sometimes hourly. Life happens to you – and somehow I ended up here. Not sad, though, and have so much family in NY that going for a visit is something we do often.

    Part of my job is being a steward of my clients’ marketing spend – and if I can get something done more cost-effectively, I’m going to do it. They usually appreciate it and our relationship is stronger when they know I’m looking out for their money. Some end up not appreciating it – and those people I don’t want for clients anyway, so it’s good riddance and see ya later. So, to answer your question, I would tell my client, and reduce billings – and sleep well as a result. Call me crazy.

  • Anonymous

    So glad!

  • Anonymous

    I love that damn Internet, Jim. And I’m ready to move to the Bahamas :))))

  • Anonymous

    Great story, Francisco. The same thing happens to me, on a daily basis. People have no idea at the amazing talent that is all around – mostly because they never make time to look around. I like that – that leaves the door wide open for you and me!