The “Two out of three” rule.

Throughout our 30 years in the business, it has been a good way for us to decide whether an account was right for us or not – the “Two out of three” rule. Meaning?

Basically, and I understand that I’m talking from a privileged point of view, there are three major reasons for sticking to your job; you’re making good money; you’re proud of the work you do; you get appreciation. Well, at Inside Out we say that we need at least two out of those three. Some examples…

We have a pro bono account for which we’re paid nothing but expenses; we feel good about supporting their cause with smart creative, and they show us gratitude. That’s two out of three. On the other hand, there’s an account for which we’re paid well; squeezing appreciation out of them is like milking a rock; the work we do for them makes us look good. Two out of three.

I don’t see settling for one out of three. So far the rule has worked.

You’re quoting WHO?

Yes, I’m quoting Chief Justice Roberts.  A couple of people forwarded me the link to his speech at his son’s commencement, and I’ve got to say I’d jump party lines to congratulate him on it – and I will share a thought that I found very astute.

As cool and as enticing as “Just do it” sounds, maybe instead we should remember what Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Here’s a link to the speech:

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

And this student was oh so ready – but certainly never thought the “teacher” would be a young heavy equipment salesperson, or the classroom, an outdoor table at a golf club restaurant in the Berkshires. Putting down his fork for a couple of seconds, the new and eager salesguy added his own comment to his customer’s musings regarding plans for growing his company. And I took my notebook and pen to write it down, because I found what he said both astute and ever so timely:

“Growing your business is not adding more people and equipment; it’s being more efficient.”

Does it make a difference?

It does. And we know because from the vantage point of view our work gives us, we see it all the time.

It makes a huge difference to find out from your own people what they think about a campaign, a launch or a promotion that you’re planning. They know. They know whether the adjectives you’re piling up match the new product or are just trendy. They know whether production and assembly can meet the deadlines you’re announcing. They know whether the distribution schedule is realistic. And if you ask them, they will know that they count. How about that?

Is Your “Why” My “Why”?

As we were updating information for the Milton CAT technician recruitment website, we were reminded of the strategy we followed when we first created it – we had decided to make it very pertinent to the young tech who’s considering a job, and that meant making it not so much about the company in general but about the location.

Our client Milton CAT has facilities in 12 different locations, ranging from rural Vermont to the coast of Maine and suburban Milford; some of them deal with gentlemen farmers and artisan cheese makers, others with loggers and lobstermen and still others, with giant contractors and multistate paving conglomerates. It makes sense that a young tech who’s considering a move needs to know about the personality and the vibe of each place. They want to learn a bit about the service manager at the location they are interested in, listen to the other technicians’ opinions and last but not least, find out about the area itself.

When we interviewed technicians, we were surprised at how many of them were married or had a live-in partner, even though they were very young, and how often they had kids of their own or their partners had kids. Schools, sports and clubs were important factors in their decision to choose a job, and of course, so were leisure time activities in the area, whether snowboarding, mountain bike riding or hunting.

The five reasons not to do it. (They are all bad reasons.)

Who hasn’t been there? Campaign is ready to hit the streets; press release about the new partnership is one click away from BusinessWire; invitations to the open house have been approved… the last thing you want to do at this stage is take any extra time to tell employees what’s happening. They are all nice guys who work really hard but…

  • 1) They’ll find out soon enough.
  • 2) Anyway, their #1 concern is getting their paycheck on time.
  • 3) What can a floor person or a receptionist add that’s of any value?
  • 4) They’re really busy.
  • 5) They won’t get it.

Say It So It Sells.

Euh. Sounds like manipulation 101. But, isn’t that really what we’re trying to do when we say something? We want to sell what we’re saying – whether it’s a plan or a change of plans; an opinion or a project for which we need our listener’s buy-in.

Wait. Maybe answering our listener’s WIIFM would help us say it so it sells. Most people want to know “What’s in it for me?” before buying it.

It happens.

Once in a while, you have a client who reminds you why advertising is so exciting; why you feel that your job allows you to touch a company in ways you never thought were part of your job; why you finally feel that your job has redeeming values.

For us at Inside Out, David Reece was that client. He just died, and the sorrow in our hearts goes deep. We’ve lost a friend, a fan, a teacher. David trusted us; he allowed us to do things that were the craziest we have ever done for a client – and that worked really well. He believed in us; when we presented creative to him, he knew that we had done our homework; we weren’t just being funky, we were strategic. He challenged us – he made us go beyond and above the traditional confines of advertising, and relied on us to support not just his ambitious sales efforts, but his outside-the-box management initiatives. We will miss him, we pray for his eternal rest, and we’re grateful for the opportunities he gave us, and the fun we had with him.

An insider’s look

About to finish drafting copy for a client’s pretty massive new website, it occurred to me – working on this project gives us at the agency a deep and complete look at our client’s entire company. But it works both ways. We couldn’t really do the project well and in a (very) timely manner, unless we already had a deep and complete understanding of our client’s business.

So what’s the point of this blog? Advice, of course. Clients, share with your agencies. Keep them in the loop. Let them know what’s happening. If they are a trusted partner, the more they know about you, the better for you. They’ll find many ways to put that knowledge to use to your advantage. And if they are not a trusted partner, why are they your agency anyway?

Happy end of 2016!


You’ve signed up for a trade show. Now, what?

You’ve signed up for a trade show.  Now, what? Now we have some Inside Out trade show tips to share:


Announce to the entire company that you’re attending the show, and tell them why. Tell manufacturing, front desk, human resources… you get it. Everyone counts. Everyone talks. Everyone should feel part of it.

Research the list of companies that have signed to attend, including competitors, customers and prospects. Circulate the findings.

Let your customers and prospects know that you are attending.

Have your social media team circulate the news, and post the announcement on your website. While you are at it, clear the old news.


Underestimate the importance of incorporating your staff’s opinion as you develop the official list of goals and objectives for the show.

Forget to check out how you did the last time your company attended that same show.

Neglect having a professionally written press release ready to hand out to any press member, stating who you are, why are you at the show, whether you’re introducing a new product or service.

Take for granted that the show people will have everything you need; bring extra supplies of scotch-tape, staplers, electrical cords, lightbulbs, spot remover, static-free, magic markers, magic glue, magic drinks.