Let’s face it: Nobody is ever going to come in to your office and say, “Why don’t you take an hour on us to really think strategically?” But even though today’s business climate finds clients demanding bigger results with greater efficiency and flawless execution, developing the self-discipline to move beyond the day-to-day grind is more important than ever before. One solid hour of strategic focus each day can mean the difference between basic client service and exceptional client service, the kind that inspires clients to value you as a strategic partner.
Easier said than done, I know. Sometimes it seems like we are all just one e-mail away from suddenly having to shift gears. But when clients look to us for strategic counsel, they expect us to be consistently bringing new ideas and approaches, spotting pitfalls and opportunities, comprehending the macro issues that are shaping the world as well as the micro issues that are impacting their business. You simply cannot deliver that level of critical thinking in a constant stop-go environment.
While everybody claims to want to be a true strategic partner, just saying so doesn’t make it happen. Actions speak louder than words. To deliver those actions, you need time to think them through. You are going to be of far greater value to a client in the long run if you are committed to doing more than just executing against the work. It isn’t easy to consistently block out uninterrupted time—especially when it is not in a budget—but the results can have an enormous impact on a client’s top line and transform the agency-client relationship.