Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ameriprise Part 2, and 3, and the illusion of control

when you're a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. and i admit it....i am, most often, the nail, and these posts are written from a very nail-oriented perspective. which is just my way of saying, "hey, hello... i'm your target and you, Mr. or Ms. Marketing Genius, are not really hitting me on the head or even striking the broad patch of drywall in my vicinity."

occasionally (much less occasionally, lately), i am the hammer and this allows me to recognize the good work of other hammers. so here's what's happened in the ameriprise saga (see my earlier post, below, for the start of the story.)

so the day after i wrote that post, i come home to a phone message from a lovely lady from ameriprise, who says, among other things, "we saw your blog." and i'm like, WHAT? no, that's impossible. i only have 4 followers and 2 of them are dogs. i share a maiden name with the third and my bed with the 4th. but sure enough she had seen the post and knew all about the poor customer service and left her phone number and said she would help me AND the other gal who was apparently in need of some instruction on the company's products and services.

i don't know whether i was more thrilled at the fact that i'm surfacing on amerprise's marketing comms screen as some kinda person of influence, or that they just wanted to fix the brand UX... but in either case, i was in fact thrilled and am using this opportunity to give big snaps to ameriprise for getting it right (well, i'm assuming they will. we've been playing phone tag, which is by no means a situation entirely under their control. so stay tuned for amerprise Part 3, where i will report faithfully on what happened and either send you flying in droves to seek financial nirvana from them, or not.)

speaking of control ... i was having lunch with a couple of folks from 2 fine milwaukee-based communications shops in pr and design, and we were in general agreement that control is not all it's cracked up to be. the design house had just been notified that their work has garnered some awards, and i thought it was a pretty interesting circumstance that those award-winning items are the ones where the client did not get out his/her pointy finger and insist that the type be in a certain color or font, that the images be cropped a certain way, or make any other stupid pronouncement that should without doubt be left up to someone who went to design school (or could have). on the pr side, the same was true -- at the time of the interview, the client had not been convinced the story was a great placement, but gave the agency the benefit of the doubt and in the end it turned out to be a terrific score.

i think really we should stop believing in "control" as a way of getting what we actually want, and instead favor "guidance," which enables agencies and other outside service partners to do more and better work, faster, more easily, and with greater value while still in the end providing us with deliverables that meet our needs. sometimes this means paying for things you end up not wanting -- but i think the true cost of that is significantly less than the benefit of getting something great you didn't know you needed.

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