PR Advice,Suisun Valley,Wine,Wine Business

The Life Cycle of a Client: Breaking up can be easy ~ sorta ~ to do, and a grand experience

Having a client is like making a puzzle.

  1. YEAR ONE: First you gather all the edges, find the four corners, take the pieces and begin to fill in the border sides, until you have the outside of the box completed.
  2. YEARS TWO THROUGH FIVE: Next you begin to place all of the pieces that are associated with the colors of those edges into their areas, and place them as you see where they fit.
  3. YEAR SIX: You work toward the center… the heart of it all, getting closer to final placement.
  4. YEAR SEVEN: You only have a few pieces to go, and put them into place. When that last piece is where it belongs, you can then see the big picture clearly.

It’s not like I didn’t see this one coming.
They gave me the box cover in advance.

When we began, we were told by the then Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association that there was government funding that would last for the next seven years. Fair warning… But, seven years ago, there was nothing but time ahead of us. Diaz Communications had a new client. It was for a virtual unknown (for me). That’s always a thrill; to begin to write history is a real kick. Once the peeling away of the layers began, I realized that this wasn’t the first go-around for this client’s area, nor would it be the last. It was a rebirth, though, and that’s just as good.

Then, the Suisun Valley Grape  Growers Association became dead center on my radar screen, and it’s about the Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association (a name change did occur during this time) that I’m now writing.

I knew that all I’d have to do is peel away the layers, unearth all the historical bones in order to understand its potential… And they’d be soon known as a neighbor to Napa, and part of the North Coast AVA of California, instead of what grape buyers were thinking… That they were the kind of blueberry patch that your grandfather would take you to as a kid and have you pick berries in silence. That was so no one around would know that this was the “king-of-the-hill” spot to get the best fruit. While that served the wine companies milking Suisun Valley, the best-kept-secret in Napa and Sonoma, it didn’t do anything for the farmers. Why? It kept down the tonnage rates they could ask for the fruit they were selling. Simple supply and demand: Hey, if there’s no demand, they’d be forced to give it away, practically, right? That was Suisun’s” now,” so I got to work on their “future.”

I’m a firm believer that within history are all the reasons for one’s future. For this group, the question was “Why did people want to settle in this location in the first place.” It took years to get to the bottom of their past; because as their publicist I had to write about their present, while they were on a fast track to their future.  I also needed to get back to the historical basics (their border), though, to dissect the matrix of their present, and then have all the puzzle pieces in place to have their story fully told.

This new client, SVVGA, came with a beginning, a middle, and an end… And, as I write this, the end (for my company) is here as of today.

In many regards, it’s not really the end, because I’ll still enjoy visiting and writing about Suisun Valley. Now, I’m able to be unfiltered, not having to run anything by my client. That’s always fun. So, this is one time when breaking up is easy, sorta. I’m going to miss the regularity of the day-to-day, because having them as a client kept me focused, so thinking about them won’t be as frequent.

What’s best about this Book One closing…

We went into a relationship knowing that we had seven years ahead of us. When we started, we were told, “Okay, you’re on and it would be really great if you could stay with us, because we don’t want to go through this process year-after-year.”

They took their time hiring us. They employed the “Hire slowly, fire quickly” philosophy, and it was to the benefit of us all.

I understood what we were being told by Suisun Valley, and we did everything we could to keep it moving forward for the next seven amazing years.

The difference between this perfect client and many others I’ve had is this:

  1. We were researched and hired by Roger King, a marketing pro (experience in knowing what any PR pro can and can’t do in a reasonable amount of time)
  2. Roger understands reasonable deliverables, just as we do.
  3. We were valued before we were contacted.
  4. They had a plan, asked us for one once we were hired, and approved what we thought would work every step of the way.
  5. We grew together, not apart.

The last one, “We grew together and not apart,” is very important. That’s because from the start, we were all honest with each other; and, we all knew it wasn’t for a lifetime.

Consequently, I find losing this client is more like sending a child off to college… You do everything you can to get that child ready for the world, and you have to stand back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, giving advice only when asked… as I will with Suisun Valley… Graduation day, guys.

Congratulations and thanks for the trust, faith, support, and friendships nurtured along the way. We closed this Book One on March 31 2011, with mutual respect and appreciation. What a grand experience.

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2 Responses to “The Life Cycle of a Client: Breaking up can be easy ~ sorta ~ to do, and a grand experience”

  1. sondra says:

    growing together not apart – a great thought about clients and not going into shock when its over. 7 years a good run, too. And onto the next.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    There’s a whole litany of things that happens between clients and the outsourced person, as you know, Sondra. The relationships are so much less personal than an employee/employer one. When the client/consultant one is this civil, it’s civilizing… Not a very profound observation or choice of words on my part, but it is what it is and very much appreciate, quite honestly.

    It beats some of the funny (in retrospect) nightmare, when others just don’t know how to say… “I’d love to work with someone else, because I see a romantic future,” and instead scream and yell at you… But really, you just know that he should have simply said, “Jo, I’m so smitten I just don’t know what to do with myself.” That’s one great story that won’t see the light of day, but lives in the undercurrent of “The Life Cycle of a Client: Breaking up can be easy ~ sorta ~ to do, and a grand experience,” and inspires the grace of a client like the one in this story… Always honest and above board. It doesn’t get any better than this..

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