Stone Ward has 20 principles that make up our operating philosophy. These are posted in our agency, shared with our clients when opportunity allows, and reviewed on a regular basis with our staff. Principle number 19 is “Do not confuse effort with result.” It is my favorite and cuts to the heart of why clients hire agencies and why agencies should be prepared to live and die by the results they create.
The story behind this principle happened at a time early in my career as an agency copywriter. I had worked tirelessly on a brochure for this particular client and was excited about presenting it to him in person. After what I thought was an impressive presentation, the client quickly told me he thought the work was off target and would not do. I was quick to point out to him that I had worked for hours on this project and because of the time I had spent he should appreciate the work.
He looked at me, pointed to a paperweight on his desk and the lesson was instant.
The paperweight read, “Do not confuse effort with result.” My effort was not what mattered to this client. What mattered to him was that the brochure copy was not the result he sought. So I went back to the drawing board, created something different and the client got his result.
When folks in the agency present their work I remind them not to tell me how long it took to do or how much effort went into it, but to explain to me why it will get results for the client. That is why we are here and why Principle Number 19 is so important to remember.