Show me the meat (Or, for SEO’s sake: What BBQ teaches us about how to build a shared client and agency agenda for successful B2B campaigns)

A barbecue

There’s a show on Netflix called Barbecue Showdown. I could spend five minutes explaining what it’s about but to be frank with y’all (I’ve really picked up the lingo, btw) the title really tells you everything you need to know.

People from all over the US of A come together to grill, smoke, lightly toast, char, roast and set fire to a truly bewildering volume and variety of meatstuffs. Ever seen a southern woman wearing heirloom pearls make a stew out of roadkill raccoon? What about a man the size of a WWE flagship wrestler tenderly massage a ham in a honey brine? ME NEITHER UNTIL VERY RECENTLY.

There’s one episode where the competitors have to build the BBQ pit and some kind of armature for roasting a hog (that’s a BBQ term for ‘pig’ just FYI) whilst they figure out what they’re going to cook, how they’re going to cook it, a set of side dishes and some kind of desert (most likely a ‘cobbler’, whatever that is). If this strikes you as a) a lot of stuff to do at once and b) intensely stressful, you’re not wrong.

So anyway, I’m watching this dainty southern lady build a funeral pyre for this pig and all of a sudden I was like, OMG, no way, this is just like running a campaign. A big point of difference, I will concede, is that in the hundreds of campaigns I’ve worked on, no one has ever shouted “Show me the meat!” when a task is finished. And this happens a lot on the show.

“Show me the meeeeeat!”

Feels good to say it.

The contestants who excelled at the dig-a-pit and then roast-a-hog challenge were the ones who took the time to nail their plan of action down at the start. No ambiguity. No building the pit whilst they’re cooking the hog.

They figured out exactly what they were doing as early as possible. They could answer:

  • What do I want the final meal to look like?
  • What do the judges want to see?
  • What did they like last time? What didn’t they like?
  • How am I gonna build the pit?
  • What are the timings for all the things I’m gonna cook?

They knew the fundamentals of their pan before they got going. The best BBQ chefs (or ‘pit masters’ in the preference parlance), knew their objective. They knew their audience. And they knew their budget.

And if they didn’t know them, they took a beat. Slowed down. They figured out the fundamentals before they got to it.

Now: this didn’t mean they couldn’t pivot on a pork chop and adjust their plan as needed. If the situation changed, their plan changed. As they gained new info, they adapted to the new circumstances. But they had their fundamentals dialled in upfront.

Objectives. Audience. Budget.

If you’re running a campaign – as an agency, as a client-side marketer, as a combo of the two – these are the things you have to agree on upfront.

Objectives. Audience. Budget.

I’ll write them out again because they’re that important.

What do you want to be different as a result of your campaign and how are you going to measure success? Objectives.

Who are you targeting, why are you targeting them and what do you know about them? Audience.

How much do you have to or need to spend in order to affect your objective with this audience? Budget.

If you’re an agency you need to know this stuff in order to do a good job. If you’re a client you need to know this stuff to make sure your agency does a good job. This is how you build a shared agenda.

Running a campaign is a big commitment. Nail the fundamentals before you start roasting that hog together.

I’m a big believer in building a shared agenda between agency and client in order to run successful campaigns. It’s just a lot easier, a lot more fun and much more likely to result in everyone getting what they want.



(Header photo: Danny de Jong on Unsplash)