End of Life Strategies

End of life expenses can be enormous. It can cost more to stay alive those last few years of life, when you probably aren’t earning money, than all the many years leading up to it. But, at that point, what can you do but spend money to stay alive and enhance your quality of life if possible? When the end is near, you know it.

When you are considering pitching or taking on a mature client, you can be sure that they will be probably have a big budget available if you can help them. Well-established, with lots of funding sources, inertia can keep cashflow humming but ‘Too Big to Fail’ is only for the really big boys. Even multi-billion dollar companies filing BK isn’t uncommon at all these days. Especially retailers.

So, you’re considering serving late stage companies? This means you’ll have to be ready to reign in the wild ideas and increase the typeface in your deck. Late stage these days could be a bank looking to target Millennials (darn Venmo!), a car company looking to resonate with “Moms” (like they haven’t been the controlling household spending since WWII) or maybe a traditional healthcare company that doesn’t want to seem like a traditional healthcare company? Get out the decaf and call the over eager intern. You’re headed for the bus line.

So, how do you pitch leaders of a sinking ship? Gently. Reality isn’t welcome in these boardrooms. Studies are going to be key, especially if they are irrelevant. Focus on synergy and just insert 2.0 behind any concepts you pitch. Like, “It’s basically ATM Card 2.0,” and wait for the dramatic slow clap and the awkward high five from your newly minted sickly client.

Now, you landed the business and you bought the office ping pong table and Doublezero fridge so you’re going to need to keep that retainer coming. Since you guys have been using Madlibs to write copy for your latestage clients (who love your “wackiness”), you’re all kind of bored and the catering and outings are becoming essential for morale. Gotta keep moving. Just remember, you’re billables are up and the dinosaur community is buzzing about how you guys are dynamite with the Internet. You are officially working in hospice.

Now, these guys aren’t going to go all of a sudden. You’ll hear about layoffs and sliding revenue. That’s when they call you for some peppy new ideas to drive growth. Get the team together. Focus! Ideas. Bad ideas will go better! You might want to make some special binders for this one. Pictures will be key.

So, now your client has been with you for awhile and he’s looking worse for it. He knows what’s coming. He’s seen the numbers. But he’s hoping — with that seven figure retainer and how hip you guys look – that you can come up with something that will stop the bleeding. Something that will stop the pain. You’re not a magician. You just work in marketing. But you can make him feel better. It’s time for a tribute.

There’s nothing like celebrating the person steering the ship into the iceberg to make everyone feel better. Get’s everyone excited about arranging deckchairs on the Titanic again. Produce the video and run the ad campaign. Hide the data and send your condolences.

Now, once you’ve lost a few clients to natural causes, you may want to mix up your roster a bit. Maybe pick up some start-ups or “cool” brands? But you’re not the same creative you used to be. You’ve been mincing the facts and nodding at nonsense for awhile. You’ve been designing for dotards and writing for brotards. It’s going to take a lot to get you back in game.

Good luck to you. You saw the $$$ and went with an End of Life Strategy. The catch is of course that “You are what you eat” and you’ve been feeding off companies that are fading into obsalence while surviving on legacy dysfunctional bloat. Now you’ve got that in your system. It’s in your DNA. You are someone with a high “toxic load.”  If you want to get healthy you have to starve the beast and take on some healthy (hungry) clients. Eventually, you’ll get your edge back but it will be tough. It’s not easy getting near death experiences out of your system.

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