What the Most Successful Agencies Do Every Day

Over the years, we've had many conversations with agency owners and managers about efficient and effective operations. One thing we've noticed is a pattern of success in the best of agencies. In other words, there are some very definable characteristics exhibited and adhered to by these agencies that are surprisingly the same from agency to agency. Here they are in no particular order of importance.

In almost every successful agency:

The principal is a full-time manager, moving from being a daily account service person, a full-time creative, an accountant, or a traffic manager. A helicopter pilot, if you will. In talking to these principals, they say the ability to have a higher view of agency operations has been very important to their agency's growth and success.

There is a core team of people who manage the important daily functions of the agency: account service, creative, financial, media, production. The success of any agency depends completely on the competency of its staff. Take our word for it, a few good people make all the difference in the world.

The managers and staff embrace new and useful technologies, staying up to date in order to remain more productive, and build stronger connections with clients and client customers. Keeping up with technology is a key to success in the future. The most successful agencies are well ahead of the curve, adopting new digital and media technologies, and helping their clients to do the same.

There is a 365 days-a-year new business effort in place, and the agency spends considerable time and effort in the organized pursuit of new business. All successful agencies know that agency billings are transitory. Your largest client can be gone in a heartbeat, so they prepare for the inevitable by keeping a healthy effort going for new business.

A strong daily operating system is adhered to by all staff. The best agencies are able to move a lot of volume through the agency because they insist that all agency employees be on the same page when it comes to the daily system. The worst agencies are the ones where account executives run their own little agencies, using the agency staff for their own client's ends.

Strong financial record-keeping helps management "mind the store." They produce regular financial statements, budgets and projections. They know where they are at any point in their progression. They have plans laid for the future and contingencies considered in case those plans don't work.

There it is. The treasure map. Follow it and reap success. Ignore it and spend your agency career fishing in shallow waters. Are there other patterns of success in advertising? Certainly. But these are the ones we've seen most often lead to growth and prosperity.


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