Would you invest and start an advertising agency today?
I don’t think many people would. There must be an easier way to make money and earn a living.
If you are crazy and wanted to do it, what type of agency would you start?
Today I believe that a Small Smart Model is the way.
I am lucky to have experienced the advertising world from two perspectives. I worked at great agencies such as DDB and JWT and others and pitched and won a lot of business.
I have been fortunate that I have also had the experience of conducting agency searches for a number of companies including Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Boch, and Raley’s Supermarkets. I have seen a lot of agencies present and I have seen what is compelling. I am not saying that Small Smart will win all the time but they will certainly win their fair share and create a great reputation even if they don’t win.
Small Smart starts with a core team of 3 to 5 key people. These are senior people directly involved on the client’s business. Today one must be a strong digital strategist. I would then support the ebbs and flows of business with a strong team of freelancers and virtual contract employees. Clients are more accepting of freelancers these days. The talent pool is robust.
Many clients today are still tentative and adverse to large retainer arrangements. They prefer to work on a project basis. For agencies this can mean an unpredictable revenue stream battling a predictable expense drain.
The real results of Small Smart are in the pitch room. If you see a presentation from a smart set of people at an agency who worked hard for the pitch it is very compelling. It is certainly more believable that they will continue to work on your business.
Next you need to figure what your agency is going to be smart about. Many agencies that I encountered often attempt to differentiate on what they can’t own or what is stale and old. “We are all about the ROI.” “We will work hard on your business.”
I don’t think you have to over think it. Find a vision that you are excited and passionate about and then own it. This could be green, action sports, women, coop specialist, sports, luxury products, transportation, high tech, healthcare, Boomers, Millennials, agriculture, retail. Stake your ground and then own it. This will mean you will have to painfully pass on New Business opportunities.
Once you have your positioning, you then have to get the word out. You have to market yourself and your point of difference. Word of mouth to your industry friends doesn’t really cut it. Unfortunately most agencies are poor at marketing themselves because they won’t spend the money to market themselves. They languish.
To succeed you need to hire some smart freelancers to get this done. You need a good PR person, a good social outside social media person. If you have a strong inside social media person you will put them on billable client business and promoting the agency just won’t happen. The lie that you will do it won’t go away but the ongoing activity won’t materialize.
If you get into a New Business pitch you will abandon your agency’s promotional efforts if you are doing it on your own.
You need to have a strong presence with thought leadership on Google through ongoing press releases to provide validation when prospects search for you. You need to embrace social media and not be a poser.
The challenge with getting the word out is limited band width when the principals are in the business and running the business. Time is scarce. That’s why you can’t go it alone.
So that’s it. Be small, be smart and invest in your beliefs so your voice will be amplified.
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Watch his video on YouTube on How to Rise Above the Crowd.