August 13, 2004

simple yet elegant

It seemed like a simple assignment. Nothing ever is. Reshape an 18yr old company with new branding, marketing strategies and communications. The first thing desperately needed is a compelling and polished corporate pitch. The CEO, after all, wants to give it on Monday to a prospective client executive.

So, I immerse myself in all the recent iterations of presentations they've given. Sponge their business model and processes. Interview individuals who will give this presentation to gather their input. Draw out the pictures they are trying to paint. Unravel what has "sold" clients on their company. Lie awake at night with 48 hours to come up with a catchy acronym to trademark their unique business process. (Gawd, all those days at Dell coming up with acronyms sure come in handy).

Then it's there. The content zips and zings. Should make a prospect salivate and ask where to sign. Then the powerpoint maven kicks in. Custom animations and transitions that deliver the content in a way that keeps the listener captivated (hope so) on the point the presenter is making. Then scour the internet for the least expensive, best quality royalty-free photography for that subliminal punch.

I declared it good and went to the CEO's office to let him review. His body language as I drove the slide show said it was good, very good. Then he called everybody within earshot in. I haven't seen people huddle around a powerpoint slide show like this in years. A few yelps later, it was declared very, very good.

As I returned to his office this morning with the color, spiral bound accompanying handouts for his trip, he stood up to greet me. "No one has ever walked into my company and made such an impact in just a few days. My team loves you." He reached into his wallet and pulled out a $100 bill, "Take your husband out this evening on me".

I had forgotten the impact of this simple thing. The simple thing wasn't the presentation. It was engaging the team in its creation. Caring about making them look great. Giving them something that reflected their input and showed off their culture, their passion, and their services. Simple yet elegant. It was a very, very good day.

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