running an agency

Attention CEOs: Accomplish more by doing less

Most CEOs are doers. They’ve built their businesses from the ground up and revel in the satisfaction their successes bring. But they can’t do everything themselves, and that’s OK. So, what should these doers actually do? When do CEOs delegate, and when do they take the lead? As a fellow CEO, I’ve contemplated this very question. I’ve found that involving myself in day-to-day tasks and issues can quickly consume my time and infringe on long-term goals. But CEOs need some level of involvement in every aspect of their business to make sure the company is on track to reach its long-term goals. The question isn’t deciding which areas to pay attention to but how you should interact with each aspect of the company. Resist the Urge to Do The balance between involvement and “doing” can be difficult to achieve because CEOs didn’t reach executive status by sitting back and delegating tasks to others. They got their hands dirty and took care of the nitty-gritty details. But once you’ve established processes and hired a dedicated staff, dissociating yourself from every decision can be difficult — and jumping into daily disputes can put your company at serious risk. For example, Chuck is the CEO of an advertising agency who used to head up the digital department. When his team is slammed and trying to meet a deadline, his first inclination is to dive in and help. However, spending a week writing code and testing a website isn’t the best use of his time because the areas that require his attention won’t get covered. As a company grows, it’s important that employees do their specific jobs so every aspect is taken care of. If Chuck loses sight of [...]

Why You Can’t Wait for That Magical New Business Person to Arrive

I’m not afraid to admit that during tumultuous times, I harbored a secret fantasy. Like many stressed-out agency owners, I dreamed of a magical “new business person” who would join my team and, with barely a trace of oversight, begin to sell the agency night and day, acquiring profitable new clients. But that mythical new business specialist is just that: a myth. Unfortunately for those of us wanting to stay in dreamland, this fantasy will only hurt a business. Not the Merlin You’re Hoping For The vast majority of new business specialists never pan out. Most agencies aren’t set up for that person to succeed, so he actually ends up costing an agency money. The reality is, agency owners want that magical new business guy because they don’t want to do new business themselves. They think there’s some kind of secret to it that someone else possesses. It can be a hard pill to swallow, but the best person in your agency to drive new business is the owner. Prospects want to talk to a business owner about business problems. You probably know that you have different conversations with them than anyone else on your staff. I’m not suggesting for a minute that you should do new business entirely by yourself, but you shouldn’t abdicate that control to someone else and walk away. Fulfill Your Own Fantasy The key to confidently stepping into the role of “new business guy” is simply improving those skills. Just like joining a gym for the first time, you may feel like an idiot at first. But as you develop your skills, you’ll grow more comfortable and successful. These three tactics will help you improve your skills and ensure that [...]

Hey agency owner — it’s time to learn how to share the sandbox and work with other agencies

Building client relationships and working with other agencies can be challenging, but it is vital for your agency’s long-term success. In fact, one of the agency/client trends that is toughest for most small to mid-sized agencies is learning how to and accepting the idea that you’re going to have to work with other agencies.  The whole agency of record model is crumbling and more and more clients are telling the marketplace that they prefer to work with multiple agencies. When AMI partnered with Audience Audit last fall to do some primary research with CMO types, one of the things that popped off the page was how prevalent this attitude is.  Many of our respondents worked with 3+ agencies and thought they were better off for doing so. The reasons they opted for multiple agencies varied but the predominant message was — “no one agency can be excellent at everything. We would prefer to buy subject matter expertise across agencies.” The other thing the respondents told us is that they hate it when agencies bicker and try to throw each other under the bus.  They end up distrusting and often firing the bigger whiner among the agencies.  (You can download the research report here) Who comes out on top?  The agency who finds a way to work well with the others.  The agency who busts a hump to coordinate their efforts and actually recognizes what the other agencies are good at and takes full advantage of those talents. Why?  Because then you are actually building client relationships. You are doing what’s best for the client, rather than worrying about the lost billable hours.  Because then you are acknowledging other agencies has something to contribute.  Because then you are [...]