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Find Your Integration Firm’s True Purpose

Operating a company with integrity and for a greater good can enhance customer relationships and earn even more success, said advertising guru Roy Spence at CI Summit.

What’s the reason for the existence of your commercial installation company?

Is it to make money? Is it to please your customers? Is it to support your employees? All of the above?

You need to have one, according to famed advertising executive Roy Spence, who key-noted November’s CI Summit in Orlando, Fla., with a speech entitled “Injecting Purpose & (Yes) Love into Your Business.”

Spence, who received a stand ovation, is a living example that businesses can be run with a “greater” purpose than just monetary rewards or self-gratification.

In the advertising industry, companies changes ad agencies constantly. It’s virtually unheard of for a large company to keep the same agency for more than several years.

But Spence is the exception. His agency, GSD&M, is an anomaly because it keeps clients — like Walmart, South-west Airlines, DreamWorks and Chipotle — for decades. What’s the secret? Having “a purpose” for his business, he says.

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Speaking with a smooth Texas twang and having a youthful look that belies his 66 years in age, Spence says the nature of custom AV and automation installation lends itself to maintaining long-term clientele for the same reason he has been able to… because of the close relationship you build with your clients.

“Become a ‘confidant’ to your client,” he advises, noting the closer you are to the customers, the less likely they are to be attracted by competitors looking to commoditize your industry.

A solid relationship will be enhanced by operating your company with integrity and for a greater good, says Spence, who can name drop people like Walmart’s Sam Walton, South-west Airlines’ Herb Kelleher and former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush as friends.

“Where your talent and the needs of the world intersect is your purpose,” he told the packed audience of more than 300 integrators and vendors.

“The purpose of life is to do good and be happy. Have a purpose and your clients will flock to you,” he added, citing Aristotle for that tidbit of wisdom.

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He recommends every business create a “purpose statement,” and he suggested looking at the ones created by Apple, Google, and Southwest Airlines as examples. To that end, Spence not only provides advertising services to his clients but also offers them sage advice on maintaining integrity and operating with purposeful “good” goals.

For instance, he was instrumental in bringing Bush and Clinton together to establish the charity in response to the Indonesian Tsunami in 2004 that raised over $1 billion.

Among his pieces of advice were:

  • “Curiosity doesn’t kill the cat, it kills the competitor.”
  • “I know what I know, but tell me what you know.” (He cited Walton for that bit of wisdom as that is how he garnered intelligent ideas from his employees.)
  • “Don’t make your people become average at what they are bad at, but help them become great at what they are good at.”
  • “Stay ahead of the curve but don’t buy the curve because another curve is coming.”
  • “Find the ‘doers’ in your business.”

The speech itself was presented with its share of one-liners and clichés — not unsurprisingly, from the man who coined the phrase “Don’t mess with Texas” — but the message still got through.

So what’s your company’s purpose?