When I read articles by agency principals that have successfully disrupted the market and been successful the first thing they talk about is their agency culture.
I don’t think that successful agencies always say that because they repeat platitudes.
Agencies that disrupt incumbency didn’t grow that way.
I talk to a lot of agency people. Many reach out to me when they need talent. Good people are hard to find these days because there is a lot of clutter.
The agency staffing model has changed again because of money money money. It’s simply tougher to get retainer gigs in the project and increasingly digital world of the New Normal.
Staffing is increasingly more of a challenge in an uncertain revenue stream world. There is nobody playing cards in the back room waiting for a client to say ordering.
One result is that talented AE’s are coveted in today’s New Normal agency world.
In some agencies there are only principals and the worker bees.
That is pretty easy to understand when you appreciate that the average size of an agency in the U.S. is seven people. We are not all in Manhattan, on Michigan Ave or in Venice CA.
So skilled young people are a big part the game today.
It doesn’t take them long to figure out your agency’s game.
What’s the street say about your agency? Not the Best Places to Work For in (your City) in Magazines your agency places ads in. Everybody knows that is only your PR machine.
I am talking about the words people say about your agency when they are together meeting over a coffee or a drink and lean forward and say this is what I have heard about them. Where are you in those conversations?
What is the work/life balance at your shop? Are most days an agency lockdown? Sure money and benefits are important to them. What they really care about is if they are going to happy when the wake up and have to go to work at your shop. Their parents work lives proved there is no gold watch at the end of the game.
They don’t want to be copied on emails about conference calls when they are on vacation. Spare them that. They need a break from you.
What so what is your reputation on the street?
Have you ever created some word of mouth for your agency?
Have you ever been to a place where possible future employees might go to network?
When is the last time you went to an Ad Club meeting? Sure there is no New Business for you there. But you also network for community and to connect with the next generation.
When is the last time you went to AD2?
When is the last time your spoke to an audience of young people? Or your local Art Institute?
Many agency owners don’t won’t to invest their time in the future because they are looking for an immediate return. ROI. But then again when they started their business they weren’t focused on that value as much as people and creative product.
I know I have reached out to many young AE’s about jobs at certain agencies. Some come back to me right away and say they have heard bad things.
Great candidates sailing away.
You see you one thing I know is true and will be true for a long time.
Young people can check you out pretty quickly.
Young people today are very smart and constantly in touch.
If their work experiences and your networking outreach touch them in positive ways your agency’s word of mouth will create quite a reputation.
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Your employees might enjoy this article on Creating an Agency Culture in the New Normal.