Our video contains sage advice and a toy dog.

It says, in business terms, ‘don’t get a dog and bark yourself’. Don’t employ an expert and then change, fiddle with or rewrite their recommendations.
It’s a universal truth, of course. “But only…” we hear you say “…if the expert’s recommendations are right.”
Of course. So here’s a 4-step checklist you can use to make sure you’ll never have to do your own barking.

1. Only employ experts you believe to be genuinely expert. Choose them carefully, check their experience, check their credentials with forensic vigour, ask hard questions of their other clients, do a trust-check with your own gut feeling (will you really follow all their advice?) and never, ever, buy on price.

2. Once chosen, give your experts the access and answers they demand, so they can get to the heart of your business and its issues, your product and its problems.

3. Implement their recommendations in full. Or don’t. You’re paying, after all, so you must reserve the right to throw out their report in total and start again with someone else. But don’t do only part of what they say. Don’t adjust their plan. Don’t, in short, do half a job.

4. And finally, reassure yourself by thinking of a small, strange-looking car that had its engine in the wrong place.
…which leads us to what we think is the ultimate ‘trust your expert’ story.

It’s 1959 and VW America is looking for a new advertising agency. It’s time, they believe, to capitalise on the success they are starting to experience with the Beetle and defend its sales now that American car makers are introducing their own ‘compact’ cars.
So they talk to a 10-year-old agency known as Doyle, Dane, Bernbach. They look at DDB’s work for other clients, they talk to those clients and get rave reviews, and they appoint the agency – agreeing to Bill Bernbach’s one condition: “Buy our ads or don’t buy our ads, but don’t change our ads.”

The result is perhaps the best campaign of the 20th century and, more important, sales that grow despite a multi-million-dollar onslaught from Ford and General Motors.

Go online and have a look at the ads. They hold up even now, in terms of startling honesty, powerful engagement and striking simplicity. They redefined advertising at the time and their influence can still be detected in marketing communications across the world.

And they would never have seen the light of day if VW America hadn’t agreed not to do their own barking.

Brian Sharp

Brian Sharp

Brian Sharp is both a marketeer and a business manager. He combines global big brand experience and communications creativity with commercial insight – a blend that builds sales and profits via memorable communications.