Bloodying my knuckles knocking on a door that was never going to open

In client services, marketing often becomes the abandoned stepchild.

It’s the nature of working at an agency. Non billable hours tend to be shoved aside in favor of real project time. They simply aren’t treated with the urgency and importance of client work.

That’s the account manager mindset. If it’s not revenue generating, then it won’t make it to the top of their list of things to do. And if you work in operations, meaning, everything that’s not actual, day to day, transactional, revenue generating activity, then it can be extremely frustrating dealing with the team’s bias to client work.

People may give you the impression that all your cute little extracurricular projects are wasting minutes, money and manpower getting support internally.

Like the blog project from my first marketing agency. With all our cancelled meetings and deadline extensions, it took more than six months to finally get the team together for thirty minutes to review my launch plan, which undoubtedly would have been useful for our company.

But like clockwork, everyone at the meeting shot down my idea like a lonesome dove. It wasn’t client facing, they complained, and not work resourcing people to work on it.

As a result, the idea never saw the light of day. Hours and hours of my time, wasted. It’s like I was bloodying my knuckles knocking on a door that was never going to open.

Pretty typical for non client facing work, though. It’s endemic to those kinds of businesses. Companies know their clients are the priority, so team members therefore deprioritize internal deadlines and commitments, and that makes it challenging for the rest of the team to produce quality work.

What’s the solution to this problem? How can organizations learn to balance internal and external work?

Beats me. That’s one of the many reasons why I started working for businesses instead of running them. Solving operational, management and leadership problems is exasperating to me, and I’m so grateful there are smart leaders out there who can do that work.

Because it’s certainly not part of my skillset. My job is to keep connecting with people, keep creating ideas that are useful, and trust that eventually, some of those babies will ship out the door and make a difference to at least one other person.

And if they don’t, hopefully I’ll learn something along the way.

How will you respond when your role has become very drastically scaled back in importance?

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