Over our long career in this business, we have learned several things that have become a credo for agency success.
Agency principals remove themselves from daily account service. They become managers, not doers. Do they still have contact with accounts? Certainly—as account supervisors. Do they still participate in the creative function? Of course—but as creative editors. By achieving a “helicopter view” of agency operations, and not being so involved in the daily grind, they are better able to help the agency grow.
They build next-level teams of managers who run the agencies on a daily basis. It stands to reason. If the agency principal is going to do the blue ocean stuff, someone has to run the store. The key to growth is to find, hire, train and nurture good managers.
Their operations are fully integrated. We're not just talking about all-digital creative and production, but fully integrated, digital workflow, project management, accounting, new business, client contact and financial management systems that everyone in the agency uses efficiently and as part of daily operations.
They pursue new business with a vengeance. There are upwards of 40,000 smaller advertising and design firms in the USA today. Typically, clients who use agencies cycle to new agencies every 32 months. Today, with the heavy focus on project work over retainer relationships, there is a greater need to have an ongoing, regular new business effort to keep the pipeline full.
They have daily operating systems that work. We have seen agencies where it looks as if an insurrection is being waged in the creative department. These agencies are always trying to catch up and keep up, often with little success. In the best agencies, there is just as much business being done, but with a quiet sense of confidence, not the air of a wild O.K. Corral shoot–out. These agencies have first-class workflow programs in place, and everyone in the agency is committed to using the system as efficiently as possible.
The agency is run with an open-books management style. The power is with the people. That’s the way it is today. An agency’s capital is largely of the intellectual kind. If your people don’t have a full and complete understanding of how well the agency is doing in relation to stated goals, they cannot help you succeed. Share agency financial info as it relates to goals, and tie employee performance to goals so employees feel vested in how their efforts boost agency success.
Commit to this credo and watch your agency attain new levels of success.