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A Summer Silent Client Doesn’t Have To Equal Lost Revenue

The only thing worse than losing a client is working with one who stalls. As an agency owner for 20 years, I have seen clients hesitate for every reason imaginable, and I've developed best practices to limit lost resources and keep projects moving. Understand How Project Delays Happen Every stalled situation starts the same way. The client is in panic mode. He needs this project now. You pull strings and work overtime to solve the crisis, but the next time you check in, the client says he needs to hold tight for a day or two. That day turns into a week, then two, and then into months, and all the while you’re waiting and bleeding resources that could be put to better use elsewhere. Delays cost money to maintain and money to start up again once the client is ready to get back at it. The longer you stay away from a project, the more factors change, and the longer you need to become reacquainted with the work and its objective. When you finally get to finish what you started, you have to shift work away from other projects because (again) this client needs it done immediately. You don’t want to fire the client -- but you can’t afford to let him dictate your workflow. You can’t send a bill for the time you spend nagging him, so what can you do to keep your stalling clients happy without sacrificing profits in the bargain? Change The Rules The fairest way to keep projects moving without angering clients is to change the wording in your contracts to account for periods of dormancy. Adding fees for reactivation of dormant projects sounds harsh, but in my experience, [...]

By |December 27th, 2017|

Sell What You Do, Not What You Make

Agencies love to talk about their “stuff.” From event strategies to promotional packages, they get deep into the nitty-gritty. Although nuts and bolts might be great for a home renovation project, they don’t produce tons of revenue. What’s the problem? Selling tangible things limits the conversation to stuff that everyone offers. You create websites? Great, but so does every other agency in your marketplace. In other words, by emphasizing what you make, you inadvertently level the playing field. And that’s bound to kill your conversions. Instead of pontificating about features, focus on the service elements that make your agency the most powerful on the globe: It’ll oil the sales funnel and help prospective audiences slide into client roles. It’s what Accenture does, and it’s why it’s the No. 1 agency in the world. Ironically, the company barely makes anything and it’s prospering to the point that its 4,000-employee company just announced the addition of 800 jobs in Atlanta. Those are some serious numbers in a notoriously tough arena, and they do it all by highlighting what can’t be commoditized. Accenture sells its thinking, strategy and planning; in other words, it sells what it knows about the industry. Its expertise — not its products — is its strength, and that’s worth loads to eager customers. Other agencies receive $125 or $150 an hour; Accenture commands up to $400. The company has hit upon a truth in selling and agencies are poised to do likewise if they shift their mindsets from making to doing. What does your agency bring to the party? Prospects are accustomed to playing a price tug of war with their agencies, but when the talk moves toward what you do instead of the cost [...]

By |December 20th, 2017|

How to Run an Ad Agency

Working at an agency means you get to hang out with smart, creative people all day long. It also means you’re dealing with a lot of strong personalities — imaginative, outspoken, and sometimes a bit too confident. When you step into agency leadership, you have to transition from collaborating with these personalities to managing them. Outspoken team members are always difficult to lead, but they present a special challenge in an agency environment, where you rely on their original thinking and courageous attitudes. When thinking about how to run an ad agency, reining in these personalities without breaking their spirits requires a delicate leadership balance. As an agency owner for more than 20 years, I’ve had the chance to work with outstanding talent, and I’ve seen my fair share of strong personalities. I’ve learned that nurturing creative thinkers requires a special approach. But with smart management and clear communication, both your strong personalities and your agency can flourish. Here are four ways to maintain control of your outspoken team members without dampening their creativity: 1) Invest in leadership training. A lot of agency leaders came up in the industry. Many landed their positions because of their creative and technical expertise — not their interpersonal skills — and have never had formal leadership training. This problem is magnified for young leaders. They’ve been praised throughout their careers for being outspoken and unafraid to take risks, so they may not handle disagreements as respectfully as they should. If the people below them are older, they may feel intimidated and project a false bravado to appear more confident. Sound familiar? Even if you’re a natural-born leader, invest in leadership training for yourself and your entire team. Communication and [...]

By |August 30th, 2017|
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