Don’t Give Clients What They Want: “That’s also the name of a convention for adults who dress as toddlers” – Podcast Episode #6

How I Made it in Marketing

Feb 28 2022 • 51 mins

Don’t give clients whatever they ask for. The most fatal blind spot lies in audience knowledge.

These are a few of the lessons from the stories Liz Harr, Partner, Hinge (, shared with Daniel Burstein in Episode #6 of the How I Made It in Marketing podcast.

Some lessons from Harr that emerged in our discussion:

  • Don’t give clients whatever they ask for: When a tech client wanted to name its conference CapCon, Harr’s team did some competitive research and discovered that it was the name of an annual convention for age players – also known as adults who dress up like toddlers and tykes.

  • The most fatal blind spot lies in audience knowledge: Harr worked with a client whose website messaging centered on the fact that everyone on the team came from a Big Four accounting firm. While the messaging was designed to reassure prospects, Harr’s team interviewed executives from deals the firm lost and discovered this messaging communicated something else…A-team rates for basic administrative tasks.

  • Keep friends close and your enemies closer…because enemies can make great partners: When Harr owned a VAR (value added reseller), collaborating with and ultimately merging with a competitor ended up saving both companies during the financial collapse of 2008…and it all began by networking with one of their biggest competitors.

Harr also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with in her career:

  • Junya Sugimoto of the Ministry of Education at Yao Shi Precinct in Osaka taught her to just be. Her first job right out of college was at the Japanese Ministry of Education. One day her boss sat her down for a heart-to-heart talk about how to make a bigger impact by bringing more of her real self to work – the part of her that enjoyed listening to people, making connections with them, and working as part of a team with the same goals.

  • Shams Zaman, CFO, Technologist taught her the power that your own stories have to connect more effectively with others: Harr was asked to help run a side business, a car dealership. It didn’t work out, and she was fired. Her boss (Zaman) told her, “Sometimes, the worst moments in life are the launch pads for getting us to where we’re really meant to be.” She has used this story and moment of vulnerability to connect with people reporting to her throughout her career.

  • Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner, Hinge taught her that our peers play a key role in our development as leaders and experts in our field: Frederiksen coached and advised her through business and personal crises when she ran a startup, and Harr went on to work with him at Hinge.

Articles (and a keynote video) mentioned in this episode:

The Marketer’s Blind Spot: 3 ways to overcome the marketer’s greatest obstacle to effective messaging (

Customer-First Marketing: A conversation with Wharton, MarketingSherpa, and MECLABS Institute (

Why You Should Thank Your Competitors (

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