We serve people, not logos.

HDMZ recently held its annual agency summit meeting, albeit delayed several months from our traditional spring dates due to various COVID-19 surges. This year’s program included several engaging presentations from experts in organizational learning, hybrid team development and behavioral science. 

Our goal was to provide frameworks and tools to enable our team to continue its journey of growth: Growth of individual skills. Growth of team capabilities. And growth of relationships – both with each other and our client partners. 

To that end, we also facilitated a client roundtable discussion that I had the pleasure of moderating. Our client guests represented a variety of marketing leadership roles and experiences across a wonderful cross section of sectors including biopharma, cancer diagnostics, bioproduction and synthetic DNA manufacturing. 

A GIF showing the HDMZ team on a Zoom video call.


What did we learn?

  1. Clients are people too! We often refer to clients by their company name, product or division. At the end of the day, however, we’re serving human beings representing those groups. Brands don’t have deadlines, feelings, preferences or ideas. People do. It was refreshing for our staff – especially those one to two steps removed from regular client contact – to see the people for whom we work so hard. Their schedules can be harried, and their work with us can be a small fraction of their daily activity. Yet, being empathetic to that reality can make us a better partner and friend.
  2. We all agree what makes “great work.” Whether it’s a new website, a PR plan, a new advertisement or a digital media campaign, our clients agreed that great work is fueled by passion, informed by expertise and achieves a stated goal. It evokes feelings of empowerment, inspiration, confidence, collaboration, happiness and trust, leaving the situation better than it was before. Sounds like a *great* thing for which to constantly strive. While the deliverables may differ for each project, the path to great work is paved with innovation, transparency, alignment, organization, commitment and accountability.
  3. Sometimes the boring stuff matters. One of our guests mentioned how much he appreciates the detail in our meeting agendas and follow-up contact reports. We’ve worked with him for two years, and up until thatis moment, the account executive who normally sends these reports was unaware how much basic meeting administration mattered to our client. It was a good reminder that something is always important to somebody. Do the little things right, even when no one is keeping score or watching.
  4. Keep it simple. Regardless of whether you’re working for a high- growth company, a market leader or a challenger brand, it’s easy to spin your wheels on a lot of marketing activity that may or may not be impacting the business. Prioritizing where we invest our time and resources is a big challenge. Sometimes it’s important to slow down to speed up. Assigning priority to our investments can be as easy as asking three questions:
    1. “Who is the audience we’re trying to reach?”
    2. “What business objectives are we trying to achieve?”
    3. “Can the agency help us achieve that goal in a differentiated way from our in-house team?”


To say the summit was a success is an understatement. We surveyed our team after the session, and every completed survey said that it was worthwhile, and that our guest speakers were the most invaluable part of our sessions. We’re already planning next year’s program and will be sure to include a client roundtable in the run-of-show. The more you can hear directly from those you serve about what’s important to them, the better partner you can be.