How to Make Metrics Relevant for Creative Teams

As a marketing executive, you understand that metrics matter. When your creative teams work together on metric-oriented goals, you can serve your clients better, reduce mistakes and miscues, and maximize every dollar spent. Unfortunately, while you may love metrics, odds are your creative staff doesn't. At least, not yet. One reason creatives don't pay attention to company metrics is because they don't understand how they directly influence those results. Inherently, people want their work to carry significance, and they can become disheartened when a company's most important goals don't seem to correlate with the work they do each day. In the end, no one wants to feel like a member of the "B team." This is especially true for creatives, whose work is often forward-facing and publicly representative of a brand or company but disconnected from the bottom line. Part of making creative team members understand why metrics matter is helping them understand their role in achieving metrics-based goals. Follow these three tips to demonstrate how metrics are relevant to everyone in the company: Only focus on metrics that actually matter Whatever you do, do not make metrics the flavor of the month. Asking people to focus on a different metric each month is extremely demotivating. It teaches people to disregard current metrics because they're only 29 days away from a different one. Instead, identify two to four key metrics to regularly track as a core part of operational assessment. Don't bog anyone down with an overload of data that isn't important; just focus team efforts on metrics that matter and demonstrate their importance by offering incentives for achieving or exceeding these goals. Make it relevant If you want metrics to be a focus for [...]

How To Give Every Employee A Personal Stake In Your Company

If you’re a business owner, you want your employees to feel as personally invested in the company as you do–but you probably know that isn’t likely. Still, your management strategy can have a huge impact on how deeply invested your employees feel in the work you do together. And getting everyone on your team to think and feel as passionately as you do isn’t as hard as it sounds. All Hands on Deck As an owner, your business is your baby. You watch over it obsessively. You make choices based solely on what’s best for it, even if that means pain in the short term. But I’ve been through the battles of running a business for 30 years, working with baby boomers and millennials, fax machines and iPhones. The most pervasive lesson learned through all those years was simple: Running a business is not a one-person job. You have to share the load. Teach your team that when the company does well, everyone does well. If you try to do everything, not only will you exhaust yourself, but you’ll risk your staff–either intentionally or accidentally–pulling in the other direction. If it begins to look like the boss can handle everything, no one else will feel their own work is mission-critical. They’ll feel unimportant, and your whole team’s enthusiasm and investment will flag. Instead, make it known that you all share the same objectives, and it takes every single person’s contribution in order to achieve them. Driving the Business Forward Employees often want to take more personal ownership for the companies they work for, but leaders don’t usually have the time and energy to teach their entire staff what it takes to run a successful business–let [...]

Don’t Be Mad About Promoting Mad Men (or Women)

The expression “those who can’t do, teach” is well known for good reason. But many business leaders nevertheless assume that top-performing employees are automatically good at managing and teaching their skills to others. The consequences of this assumption can be troubling, especially in today’s advertising  or  business. It’s perfectly understandable — even desirable — to want to reward exceptional workers, but owners and managers often believe that the only way they can reward employees is by promoting them to supervisory roles. This is not only not true, it is dangerous thinking. Simply put, leadership requires a completely different skill set than most people use in performance positions. As a result, employees who perform the best aren’t automatically good at training or supervising other people in their areas. Indeed, without training, mentoring and ongoing coaching, the practice of rewarding top performers with leadership roles rarely has a happy ending. Keep in mind that promotions typically remove employees from jobs at which they thrived, while exposing the entire company to their hidden shortcomings. Someone whose strength is putting clients at ease might not be assertive enough to lead a team. Promoting this person, meanwhile, risks creating a void in client relations that others can’t fill. A poorly executed promotion also tends to drive talent away. After all, when skilled people aren’t successful in new positions, they don’t typically want to stick around. The above is true for all industries. But today’s marketing environment makes it especially treacherous to move ad agency people around without solid planning. It has always taken time for agency employees to master their craft. But the rise of tech- and data-driven strategies is constantly adding new levels of complexity to our work. These complexities [...]

Building Loyalty Within An Agency

In May 2016, the New York attorney general filed a lawsuit against Domino’s for underpaying workers at least $565,000 at 10 of its New York stores. The pizza chain urged franchisees to use its PULSE computer system — even though executives knew the system had been under-calculating gross wages for years. Long story short, Domino’s opted not to fix the flaw, instead labeling it a low-priority issue. In doing so, Domino’s kept vital information from employees. Not only did employees lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Domino’s also lost employees’ trust. Communicate Openly for Success In today’s workforce, in which employees are motivated by company inclusivity and identifying with employer values, successful agencies are transparent with employees. They clearly define annual goals and aspirations with team members. With measurable milestones set, agencies must communicate regularly to ensure everyone stays informed, motivated, and excited about their work and the agency as a whole. It’s not enough to distribute the company Kool-Aid; getting employees to drink it requires you to authentically express — face-to-face — why you believe in your agency and what end goals it will achieve. Passion and charisma are contagious. Help your team members understand what drives you, and they will enthusiastically commit. Some issues like salaries are meant to be kept private, but others — like the financial state of your business — should be shared. When employees don’t have access to financial data, they miss out on critical facts like company profitability or loss, cash flow, and gross margin comparisons with direct competitors. Teams without this valuable information are limited, which can result in poor decision-making. Share your numbers with your employees to show that you trust and value them. Building Loyalty [...]

Hey Agency Owner — are you mentoring for growth?

Agency owners are really good at a lot of things.  Unfortunately, mentoring employees for growth is often not one of them. I get it -- you want self starters. You don't have time to micromanage people. You want someone who can think/behave like an owner. You know how you get employees like that? You create them. You hire smart people and then you teach them how to drive your agency's growth, your client's confidence and your AGI.  None of that happens by accident. It's why you should be spending 20% of your time actively mentoring your team.  So what does that look like? Everyone on your staff should have a weekly (yes weekly) one on one meeting with their supervisor. So as an agency owner -- you'd meet with your direct reports weekly.  Here's what mentoring employees should look like: The employee owns the meeting.  They schedule it and re-schedule it if necessary.  If you're traveling -- do it by phone or Skype.  The employee is expected to come to the meeting prepared.  Use a form that outlines how the conversation should go -- and they should have it completed in advance and bring you a copy and one for themselves.  (Email me if you want to see a sample) The meeting is 20-30 minutes long and focuses on quarterly goals and big picture progress -- not a traffic meeting.  This is their opportunity to pick your brain, run ideas past you, and get your feedback.  It's your opportunity to coach, ask tough questions and encourage them. This aligned beautifully with the EOS process or any system where you as an agency, department or individual are working on quarterly goals. This is your chance to hold [...]

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!)

Ten Ways To Motivate Agency Employees

Here are some questions you should be asking yourself when wondering how to motivate your employees: Can you name ten ways in which you motivate your agency employees?  Can you name one? Or are you too busy putting out fires to consciously think about keeping your team fired up and working at a peak performance level? It’s all too easy to complain about an employee’s perceived lack of performance on the job. Sometimes, performance can be dramatically improved just by paying a little attention to all your employees. Too often we end up taking good performers and the ones we like for granted and grumble about the ones that need to improve. Having a strategy to motivate, grow and retain your biggest and most expensive asset is just good business. It’s part of working ON the business, and not just IN it! Here’s a list of my top ten tips when you are wondering how to motivate your employees: Consciously try to say “hello” or “good morning” or “good night” or “good job” to everyone, every day. Notice them and acknowledge them.  It sounds simple but how many days do you walk through the office and just walk right by people because you're on your phone or deep in thought? Personally thank employees for doing a good job - face to face, in writing, and in front of others. Do it often and sincerely.  You cannot be too grateful. Be willing to take the time to meet with and listen to employees - as much as they need or want. Provide employees specific and frequent feedback about their performance. Support them in improving performance.  Ask for their opinion too. Recognize, reward and promote high performers; deal [...]

Advertising agency owners take money out of their own pocket to stay overstaffed

I have found that most agency owners are very generous people. They love the people they work with and want to create an amazing working environment. They are also very slow when it comes to firing an employee – whether it’s because the person isn’t performing at the right level or because billings have dropped and they just don’t need that person any more. All of that is lovely. But, you are literally taking that money out of your own pocket when you make that decision. I can’t tell you how many times an agency owner has lamented to me, “I know I should let Carl go but he’s putting two kids through college.” Yup – and you are taking money that should be going into your kid’s college fund (or your retirement or investment account) and handing it to Carl’s kids. Even more than that – by not firing an employee, you are putting your entire agency at risk, for the sake of this one person. Your responsibility is to run the agency in a fiscally sound manner so that the agency survives the ups and downs of cash flow, clients coming and going and other economic factors. I saw way too many good agencies just close their doors in the last recession because the agency owner stubbornly held onto too many people and didn’t trim overhead expenses fast enough. One ratio that can help you stay in alignment is a rule of thumb we use at Agency Management Roundtable with our agency clients. On average, for every $100,000 - $125,000 in AGI (adjusted gross income = your gross billings minus your costs of goods sold) you should have one full time equivalent. If [...]

What your agency employees want from their boss

Have you ever wondered what your agency employees want from their boss -- AKA you? I just spent two days with a room full of account executives, teaching them how to add more value to their agencies and their clients. As part of the conversation, we talked about improving employee relations and the difference between what they think their bosses want from them…and what you, agency owners, truly do want from them. It's an eye-opening experience for them to say the least.  But then I turn the tables and ask them what they want most from you -- their boss. What I always find fascinating is that "more money" is rarely mentioned. Here's a partial list of what your best AEs want from you: They want to learn from you, your past experiences and work They want to keep learning and for you to give them access to workshops, webinars, etc. They want to get smarter in terms of how business works, not just marketing They want to know you're running the business in a fiscally responsible way They want to work someplace that is vibrant and has a fun/cool factor They want the "this job isn't M-F, 9-5" to work both ways But the number one thing, time and time again that I hear they want most -- they want you to notice their work, their effort and express your appreciation for them going above and beyond.  They work hard and part of the reason they do it is because they want your trust and respect. We all know, as agency owners, that we get going so fast that sometimes we forget to say "thank you." This is a great place to start when [...]

Advertising agency non-compete agreements

A non-compete agreement form is like fire insurance. It's a sickening feeling to see the smoldering ruins of your just-burned house, and wish you'd bought the insurance policy. The time to create your non-compete agreement is before you get burned. There's a widespread belief among the advertising agencies that we meet in our workshops and consulting that non-compete agreements are not enforceable. We do all we can to dispel that belief. We're not attorneys so we won't attempt to give you legal advice, other than say a properly written non-compete agreement form required by the agency and signed by the employee is binding upon both parties. Doing so could even save you a fortune on legal fees. Non-compete agreements do not fall under Federal jurisdiction. The covenants are governed by State law. With fifty states there are fifty sets of rules. This means you need to talk to your legal eagles and have them put one together for you that can be upheld in your state courts. You need to have ALL current and new employees sign the non-compete agreement form you and your attorneys have fashioned. Your attorney will tell you that you will probably have to compensate each employee in some way to sign the new agreement.  In my agency, we paid them all $1 -- which we literally handed to them. You may find that it may be simple to include a "section" on non-compete in the employment agreement. But the key is getting signatures on the document -- no matter which document you choose to include your non-compete language. While it's true that you can't prevent someone from making a living, you can prevent them from making a living at your [...]