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 [...]

What Successful Mentoring Looks Like & the Effect it Has on Your Agency with Mitch Matthews

Never had a mentor? Not sure where to start or how to structure a successful mentoring relationship with your employees? In my podcast conversation with Mitch Matthews, he helps us to understand what great mentoring looks like. Mitch will show you how to mentor your employees with a wide variety of tools and specific solutions to move both yourself and your employees down the road to a successful mentoring relationship. I love this quote from Mitch, ““I know especially in agencies … this is so critical because you want to inspire the best work, you want to inspire full engagement, you want to inspire loyalty, you want to inspire creativity, all of those things. One of the best ways to do that is through mentoring.” If you’re not familiar with Mitch, let me tell you a little about him. He has an amazing podcast that I highly recommend called “Dream, Think, Do” (http://mitchmatthews.com/) and it is at the top of the iTunes chart for a reason. Mitch has worked on mentoring with entrepreneurs, leaders and teams from organizations like NASA, Disney, booking.com and Principal Financial Group. He’s really passionate about helping entrepreneurs and leaders dream bigger, think better, become more successful, and do more of the stuff they were put on this planet to do. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/mitch-matthews/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web. If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn't you get the benefits too? Welcome to 'Build a Better Agency,' where we show you how to build [...]

What does an advertising agency consultant do?

There are a small handful of advertising agency consultants out there and each of us serves our clients a little differently. I thought it might be helpful for you to see our ad agency structure and how we define the role in our work with small to mid-sized agencies. An advertising agency consultant is: 1) Experienced --a seasoned pro in the business of successfully running an agency.  I’ve been running my own agency for the past 20 years. 2) Someone who understands that to offer relevant counsel, he/she must stay relevant.  That’s why I still run my agency. 3) Actively working with all variations of agencies — advertising, marketing, digital, media, SEO, PR etc. 4) A teacher — I try to be a thoughtful teacher in as many ways as possible:4) Our workshops, offered for agency owners/leaders and account service staff Our agency owner peer networks — each one facilitated by me My work as I consult one on one with agency owners  Through my writing, both on this site and in other publications 5) Going to ask some pretty uncomfortable questions sometimes.  It's my job to listen and hear what's underneath the first answer.  Sometimes you already know the answer -- you just don't want it to be the answer.  And other times you need someone to tilt the mirror slightly, so you can see the truth. 6) A BS meter. Part of my job in this ad agency structure is to help you see when you’re telling yourself things that don’t serve you or your agency.  Call it tough love, call it accountability or call it caring enough to tell you what you need to hear.  You’ll always get a straight answer from me. 7) A networker.  Part of my [...]

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