advertising agency

Accelerate Agency Vision by Getting on Your Soapbox

Agencies are beautiful, chaotic places to work. The nature of creative client work means the agency is always in a state of flux, growing and pivoting as clients do. The ability to adjust quickly is critical to survival, but it makes it all too easy for the agency vision to get lost in the daily shuffle. Recently, I worked with a mid-sized agency in Chicago that had good people, solid work, and consistent clients. The problem was that they were stuck. After a few years of stagnant billings and staff size, the owner decided to make a few changes. He instituted monthly “state of the agency” meetings, where he outlined the agency’s long-term vision and updated the staff on financial goals. He also established quarterly and yearly meetings that allowed the team to discuss goals and establish concrete action steps for achieving them. In the four years since instituting those changes, the agency has seen double-digit growth every year. Employees are happier and more energized, and the company is making a name for itself. On the surface, it seems really obvious:  You need a clear vision to grow an agency. But it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and, when you do, you often miss clues that something is about to go terribly wrong. Why It’s Important to Look Up Agencies that stay in tactical mode all the time will almost certainly miss warning signs that they’re wandering off-target. This is what I like to call “shiny object syndrome.” With digital marketing, there seems to be a new “shiny object” every year. Focusing on your overarching vision will keep you from chasing every shiny object that comes along and help you pick [...]

Looking For a Job? Ditch the Resume Tips and Open a Marketing Book

For many unemployed young people, the job hunt is a dismal pursuit. Books about resume writing state the importance of “standing out,” but it’s hard to showcase your achievements when everyone around you has comparable triumphs. Even that stellar academic history becomes a minimum requirement when colleges are handing out As at record highs. You’ve listed many accomplishments, but from the perspective of a potential employer, you look exactly the same as every other applicant. If you’re relying on stale resume advice, you’ll only get as far as others taking the same approach. By thinking like a marketer and creating an ad campaign for yourself, you can defy the odds and outshine other qualified applicants. Adopt the marketing mindset Marketers have been tackling the problems of differentiating their product from competitors’ and becoming the go-to consumer brand for years. It’s a constant struggle, and they consistently have to up their game to stay in the race. Like them, you want to stand out among your peers. Applying these specific marketing tactics will help you leave a lasting impression on potential employers. Appeal to your target market. Before potential employers see your name on a list of applicants, you should be working to interact and market yourself directly. Turn one-way communication into an ongoing conversation by engaging with companies on social media. Don’t forget to spruce up your online personality, and keep your digital resume updated.Through your profile and interactions, demonstrate how your personality and experiences would benefit a company and its clients. Consider writing a blog to further express yourself. Ask yourself, "If my work were a product, how would I market myself to my target audience? How would I differentiate myself from other applicants?" When [...]

Hey agency owner – want a no fail agency new business tactic?

One of the biggest issues that agency owners and other key staff that are charged with agency new business face is getting on the radar screen of their prospects. This is where a small business marketing technique could come in handy. Read on for more. Even when you have the experience, knowledge and chops to help a prospect move their sales needle or accomplish whatever they're trying to get done – it’s tough to get their attention long enough to be noticed. That’s even more of a challenge for agencies that don’t have a big marketing budget or exist in a crowded, competitive landscape.  Which by the way, is all of you. That’s where some psychology can be incredibly helpful. One thing that is almost universally true about us humans is that we are incredibly flattered when someone thinks we have something of value to offer in the way of experience, knowledge, expertise or hard-earned wisdom. And that, I believe, is the door we need to open if we want a prospect’s time. For this small business marketing technique to work, I think the following needs to be true about your agency: You/your agency has a niche/specialty in which you have a great depth of expertise You have some outlet (website, blog, podcast, newsletter) in which you share that expertise without a sales pitch or being self-serving You have a genuine interest in the people you serve and a passion for helping them in your unique way with whatever you do/sell You are willing to commit to working on agency new business on a consistent basis If that’s you, read on. Make a list of your ideal prospects and their influencers. Who would you most like to serve and are the people/companies that you [...]

The Agency Owner’s Job Description

Here’s the ad agency structure kernel of truth you’ve been denying for too long. You can’t own/run a successful, scaleable agency and still be in the weeds of client work. You just can’t do it. I work with 200+ agencies a year and whehter they’re small (1-15 people) or large independently owned agencies (100+ people) — if the owner is still servicing clients, they’re not servicing the agency. If you being hit by a bus or abducted by aliens would dramatically change your agency’s monthly AGI, then congratulations — you just created company so you could be a day laborer. You simply traded one job/boss for another job/boss. And I’m betting your current boss makes you work worse hours for worse pay. What a jerk, right? Actually you're right. You shouldn’t tolerate that life any more. Not only is it a lousy job for lousy pay but you can’t grow your business because you’re the bottleneck. The sticking point. The black hole where ideas/innovation goes to die because you don’t really have the time to think them through or execute on them. If you are working in the business, you aren’t working on the business. Which means your agency will not scale/grow and no one will want to buy it because you’re too integrally involved.  And if all of that's true -- why in the world would you take the risk, the pressure, the heart burn and the worry?  Just go get a job. So what should you be doing with your time? Here’s how a strong agency owner should be spending his/her time (roughly) every week. This is your agency owner's job description. Granted this is ideal….but it gives you something to shoot for [...]

Build a better agency with better hires

Are you tired of thinking you've found a great new employee only to be disappointed again?  You can definitely build a better agency with better hires. An advertising agency can be a tough place to work: We live in a world of high pressure, tight deadlines, and demanding clients.  Let's face it, they're all part of the daily grind.  The truth is, not everyone can hack the environment. But employees who thrive under pressure, day in and day out, prosper at advertising agencies – and can drive your agency's bottom line as well. That’s why an agency is truly only as good as its people. And that’s also why one of the biggest risks an agency can take is hiring someone new. One hiring mistake – especially in a small- or medium-sized agency – can dramatically influence performance, profitability, and sustainability for the entire company. I explored this topic for Digital Marketer and shared with their readers the 4 ways to build a better agency with better hires.  (And there's even a bonus tip!)

Client Retention Strategies: Are You About to be Fired?

Client retention strategies are critical in your agency -- especially considering one third of all advertising agency clients expect to change agencies within the next 12 months. Let me rephrase that for you -- one third of all clients are going to FIRE their current agency within the next 12 months.  Do you think that your marketing agency is the exception to this rule? Are you 110% confident that every client you have can't imagine doing business without you? Here are the big reasons clients cite for making the change: A leadership shift within the client (usually at the CMO or Director of Marketing position) Frustrating business results Can't track, monitor or proof any progress The core relationship between the agency and client is strained Agency performance is underwhelming Agency never brings us new/fresh ideas Agency was gung ho to get us, now we're just one of many And the #1 reason among those -- the last one.  They don't feel courted anymore.  They're not your special, most favorite client. So I am point blank asking you: hey advertising agency -- are you about to be fired?  How do you know? Do you have any client retention strategies in place? How do you know if your relationships are at risk?  Here are a couple ideas. Here are a couple of ideas to consider as part of client retention. Ask.  I know it sounds simplistic but when was the last time you had lunch or a drink with a client and just asked for honest feedback?  Don't do it over the phone, over email or for the love of Pete, over a text.  Set up a specific meeting just for this conversation. Give them some feedback on how you [...]

How agencies should use content to attract prospects

Content marketing is all the rage but most of it is just packaging. Frankly -- agencies have been using content marketing for decades for their clients.  It's not new.  But what I think is new is the idea that agencies should use content to attract prospects for themselves. This type of content management strategy was the focus of an article I wrote for The Agency Post before the holidays. Agencies are, by their very nature, superb story tellers.  And they have an incredible depth of knowledge when it comes to marketing strategy, their own agency's niches, etc.  I get the whole "we're too busy doing it for our clients to do it for ourselves excuse" but honestly -- that needs to stop. In theory, agencies should be perfectly structured to create content so intriguing that people never want to leave the conversation. But the reality is most agencies practice a conservative approach with their content management strategy because they are paranoid about sharing anything of genuine value. They fear their competition might see it or that they might turn away potential clients because of what is posted. They’re also afraid that if they give knowledge away for free, the reader might never become a client. This is why most agencies are still just curating content or talking about their business, which of course means they’re not inspiring anyone. They are simply restating their company slogan or biography to exhaustion. If what you have to offer is high quality and helpful to the client, he or she will come back. Today, the model for professional services new business efforts is -- you give first.  Share something of value.  Demonstrate your expertise.  Show me you know your [...]

Do your AEs bristle at the word sales?

Be honest agency owner, you know that your account executive team is great. But sometimes they struggle when it comes to actual sales. Enter our account executive sales training workshop. 67% of an agency's new business revenue comes from existing clients (on average).  The people who are (or sadly -- are not) going to bring in those additional dollars are your account executive team.  They interact with their clients every day.  They propose new work, they know when the client has hit a barrier (and maybe needs some marketing help to leap over it) and they drive that client's activity. Sounds like sales to me.  But if your AEs think and behave more like relationship managers, you're not alone.  When surveyed, agency owners had these frustrations about the people on their account team: Sometimes they behave like they work for the client, not the agency They don't know how to listen for problems we can help solve They don't understand the business of owning or running a business They don't think new business or sales within our existing clients They let the client lead too much Sound familiar?  That's why we developed our Account Service Advanced Training workshop.  We spend two days teaching GOOD account service people how to really help grow their agency's AGI, reputation, new business (both from existing clients and brand new) and their network.  We talk numbers.  We talk strategy.  And we talk sales. When the participants leave the executive sales training workshop, sales is no longer a dirty or scary word.  They come back fired up and excited to stretch their wings. But don't take our word for it.  Here's what some past participants have had to say: “My AE [...]