It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right

by Keith Seiz

23 June, 2010

I don’t know if Rob Bass had branding kick-off meetings in mind when he wrote that gem of a lyric in 1987, but I found myself dancing out of the suburbs yesterday after conducting what I consider as one of the best kick-off meetings I’ve ever been part of. In the five years since we founded The Arland Group, we’ve conducted countless branding kick-off meetings. It’s a great time to get the client and their team excited, as well as get a greater insight into how the client operates, how they think and how they perceive their brand.

But for the the meeting to be successful, both parties (us and the client) have to bring their A-game. If we come flat, or the client is afraid to talk, the meeting has little chance of accomplishing its goals. So, in the spirit of Rob Bass and DJ E-Z Rock, here are the keys to an all killer and no filler kick-off meeting.

  1. The venue: 90% of our kick-off meetings are at our clients’ offices. Sort out the logistics before hand, making sure your presentation works on a Mac or PC and you have hard copies if neither works. Get head counts and attendees in advance so you know who you’re speaking to, and make sure everyone off-site has a copy of the presentation in advance. Nothing kills the momentum of a meeting more than the headliner taking 10 minutes to get their act together.
  2. The audience: Everyone wants an engaged audience, but how do you motivate the khaki and collar crowd that often would rather be anywhere else than another meeting. It’s all about size. Too many people and chaos will ensue when people decide they really enjoy to hear themselves talk. Too few people and people are either afraid to talk, or more damaging, people are afraid to be honest. For branding kick-off meetings, we love to have between six and 10 people involved.
  3. The mix: Almost as important as the size of the audience is their mix. Most of our clients want to invite the entire marketing or communications department to a branding meeting. Bad idea. Too many similar people with similar ideas of how things should be done. We love to bring together a diverse group of employees from different departments and different experience levels. Whether we are launching a product, company employment brand
  4. The show: You have to have the goods. Fortunately, The Arland Group has the goods. Also, don’t talk a lot about yourself or your agency. Nothing kills momentum more than scrolling through slide after slide of your company history and portfolio.
  5. The after-party: It’s essential to celebrate wins, not only for moral, but for motivation for the next meeting.