It’s no secret: Most advertising agency owners come from inside the advertising industry.Naturally, they’re very good account executives, copywriters or art directors, but they’re not always seasoned businesspeople. Like most creative people, they’re not interested in restrictive, formulaic systems and processes to guide workflow, even though they’re necessary. Unfortunately, this misstep can singlehandedly create chaos in a busy advertising agency. Common Ad Agency Mistakes Most agencies rob themselves of income when they don’t track and bill work correctly. With these small additional revenue streams, the average agency could grow its bottom line by several percentage points every year—if not more. In addition, without continuous revenue growth, it’s tough to keep hiring and training, which can lead to increased turnover and stale ideas. Ultimately, that can result in an agency that isn’t a creative force any longer. It’s simply a production house, rather than a generator of innovation. In today’s environment, this is a risk that most agencies simply can’t afford. With a mix of employees and freelancers working together in different cities and time zones, process and project management become vital to ensuring proper billing, communication and project completion. Otherwise, details are dropped, deadlines are missed, clients leave and the bottom line takes a sharp dive into the red. It doesn’t have to be this way. 10 Tips for a Competitive Advantage Here are 10 ways to give your advertising agency a streamlined process and a competitive edge. Have a production process, and honor it. It’s important to create clear, easy-to-follow workflows for every kind of project. This ensures that steps aren’t missed and that the final product has been vetted at each essential stage. Create a culture that won’t honor workarounds for anyone—even the [...]
Several years ago I ran across a little ditty by Joe Adams that I've kept around just to re-read and remind myself of what business I'm in. Joe called it his Commandments for Running An Advertising Agency. It's a good reminder to all of us that it takes is a little common sense, enthusiasm and guts. So, here they are: Thou shalt market from the top down. (Call on the best fit prospects first.) Don't work for bastards - and don't be one. (Pick people you want to work for. Take on ones with great potential. You must like your clients.) Thou shalt learn to speak in numbers. (How much, what will it cost - that is what clients want to hear.) Thou shalt be creative. (Creativity can be learned. Being creative is believing you are creative.) Eat bran flakes and hire competitive people who like to win for your agency and your clients. Be conspicuous. (You must make your agency stand out. Don't copy your competitors.) Thou shalt think business. (Clients have business problems. These problems are our opportunities.) Thou shalt be emotional. (Most advertising is boring. They are afraid to be emotional. People don't buy because of facts; they buy for emotional reasons.) Learn to say "No!" Hire people that are smarter than you are. Thou shalt have fun! (Do everything possible to enjoy work. Quit your job if necessary.) These commandments are 20+ years old. How do you think they hold up in today's world? I modified two of them. Can you guess which ones?
Awhile ago, we received a call from an agency in upstate New York. "I was looking through a back issues of Money Magazine," he said, "and I saw your letter to the editor mentioning that one of the things you do is work as an advertising agency consultant. You might be the kind of person I'm looking for to help me with my agency." So far AMR has helped him on several occasions. An unsolicited qualified prospect called us at the cost of one stamp on the letter to the magazine. (Today, it would be the cost of a mouse click!) If you think that letters to the editor only provide a place to sound-off on some issue of public issue you're wrong. They can also provide opportunities to spread the word about your services to an enormous audience. But for this strategy to pay off, you have to remain alert to opportunities during your regular reading, carefully construct an effectively subtle letter and promptly send it off. First, stay on the lookout for articles to relate advertising or marketing issues. Then consider how you can agree, disagree or add to what was reported in the article. Start your letter with a reference to the name and date of the article you are responding to. Then present your comment using this formula: "As the principal of an advertising agency, I have found/feel/think ____." For instance: "As the owner of an advertising agency that specializes in the mining industries, I feel ... " "As the owner of a graphic design company that deals with high tech companies, I've found ..." For some excellent examples, take a look at the letters column in Entrepreneur Magazine. Almost every [...]