How to Become a Small Smart Agency


A couple of weeks ago I wrote a Blog called “Why Small and Smart is the New Advertising Agency Model.” It has become one of my more popular blogs closely following my best read blog “It’s Time to Stop Networking.” Obviously some readers related to it.

So in this time starved world how do you become a small smart agency?  As I wrote, you need to figure out what you are experienced and passionate about and then own it.

Then you need to become resource rich so you can deliver that expertise for clients in a variety of ways even though you are a small shop.

It is easy to do if you have a large and vibrant network.

What do I hear when clients select large agencies?  “They have a lot of resources.”

I believe that today small agencies can become resource rich.  They can provide those resources more nimbly and affordably than their larger counterparts.

How do you become resource rich?  Networking.  It’s that simple. By networking you can find many alliance partners that you can team up to deliver a client’s message.

There are so many diverse channels and platforms that can be used today to communicate.  You can readily find digital, social media, video, blogging, PR, and other experts in the networking world. It is easy to tap into a broad variety of possible channels if you are connected and network broadly.  I am not talking about going to the Ad Club here.

There are many people in transition who are very smart and savvy in their field and would be more than happy to consult when their services are needed.  You can add them to your team.

You need to network broadly.  You need to be connected with the exuberance of the young and the perspective of the wise.  You need to be engaged with the leading social media practitioners.  Many have not come from a traditional agency world.

I am just one sole consultant yet I can bring a variety of these partners to the party because I have been networking for years.  I constantly meet with younger, smarter people and add them to my stable of resources. I share them with my network.

The more resources that you have the quicker you will respond and the more valuable you will be to your clients.  You will be quicker to market and more successful.

Today clients are very accepting of working with an agency that brings together the strongest team to work on their business. They don’t have to be employees to be part of the team.

I agree that large agencies have many resources but often they live in silos and don’t coalesce.

In some agency searches I have been involved with it often appears that they have recently just met each other when they come together.

Unfortunately many agency principals are strictly involved in the business and rarely go out and network.  They are missing a great opportunity to provide more added value for their clients and energize them with new innovations.

The world is changing so rapidly today that you can only keep up by networking and being connected with technology’s changing pulse.

You become a small smart shop by leaving the agency and connecting.  Most agency principals believe that they are the ambassadors for their agency but they forget that sometimes the ambassador needs to leave the embassy.

Hank helps agencies become Small Smart to grow their business. Hank Blank frequently speaks to AAF Chapters on Why Agencies Don’t Want New Business and to many organizations and companies on Networking Your Way to New Business. You can contact Hank at

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank


Watch his video on YouTube on How to Rise Above the Crowd.


5 thoughts on “How to Become a Small Smart Agency

  1. Hank, really enjoyed your perspective….guess because it agrees with mine. I’ve been the CFO at several agencies on the east coast over the past 28 years, and now as a business owner consulting with small to mid-sized agencies on financial development. The smart agencies are resource rich when the C suite applies basic capacity analysis to meet the demand of client needs.

    It never fails, agencies that follow this philosophy ALWAYS have larger profit margins.

    Well done. May I add you to my Linkedin network?

  2. Hank, thank you – you make a critical point. Many company principals do not get out to network often enough. I see that some are just overwhelmed with the daily concerns of managing their people or their business operation, and cannot leave the office; when they finally do they are exhausted.

    My friend is a perfect founder CEO, but for days he didn’t get very far on the design proposal work and time was sliding dangerously toward the deadline. Silly but demanding interruptions, crisis, and general flare-ups were sapping not just his time, but energy. He was constantly overly busy.

    In the extreme environment that is typical of a small creative company, it is vital to make the right choices and potentially fatal when bad choices are made. If you are a founder CEO, your time is best spent on anything other than business operations and administration tasks. The solution is to hire an ally, a business manager to build the foundation, systems and processes for the business. An interim operations professional can play multiple roles at first, and build flexibility for growth as the business expands.

    When I came on board as operations pro, it created long stretches of uninterrupted time for him to think and make the right choices, to create, to work at peace. Most importantly to get out, network, be that great ambassador for his business, and come back the next day, refreshed.

  3. Hank, you make valid points and yes, this is a possible benefit of a small shop and virtual agencies. But I find that organizations are often leery of a team made up of individual consultants vs. a traditional employee model. I think old habits die hard. You can have a great network and be able to bring the best professionals for the job to the table, but if the client doesn’t trust this model then it’s difficult to overcome that hurdle and compete with the larger, established agencies. How do you recommend addressing this when the client expresses doubt?

    • hankblank

      I have found that most clients are open to bringing in outside “best of practice” people. Much more than in the past. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. Take care. Hank

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