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Many agencies start out with its founders wanting to earn more than when they were an employee while still do very much the same things, but find themselves hit with the realities of bills to pay and clients to win. With little to no business experience, few manage to survive and even fewer are profitable enough to scale.
In this five-part mini series, James Ient, CFO at Compagnie Financiere Tradition (CFT), shares quick tips on how to run a more successful agency business.
[pullquote]”The work” or “Our Work” is a great way to make heroes of your clients.[/pullquote]
Stop marketing your portfolio. Market your process.
“The work” or “Our Work” is a great way to make heroes of your clients. These are the people that trusted you with their concept, money and gave you the activation platform. Only market “The Work” when you want the world to know how good your client is.
From your own business perspective, think of it like this: Your magic sauce is the recipe (not the sauce).
“Explain how you work to de-risk your outcomes”. I have worn myself out over the past 5 years saying this (and been driven crazy with the eyes rolled at me) but it’s really simple:
[pullquote]From your own business perspective, think of it like this: Your magic sauce is the recipe (not the sauce).[/pullquote]
Commissioners of work have already done the hard yards internally fighting for budget, fighting for the freedom of commissioning and probably the concept. What do they want from you as an agency? They want to feel that they know how you will work on this project, predict the timing and form of deliverables, confidence that output will be close to meeting brief and there won’t be any expensive surprises. If you want your stakeholders to sleep well at night, there should be no ta-da moments.
So the question is; Can you explain the way you work and what the end result is? Any professional services firm should be marketing the processes they work by to get the outcomes the client wants most frequently. Jeremiah from CVP came up with the mini-series “Get FAQ’d” to make some of their process transparent (and minimise expectation gap).
Sir Martin Sorrell said, “In our business, except in media buying, there are few economies of scale.” Agree! So instead you must be more inventive in economies of process:
- Make the process of engaging clients and taking briefs more repeatable by having simple funnel questions to reduce time spent by clients on briefing you.
- Make the way you deliver ideation consistent. The packaging needs to be predictable to have the audience focus on the idea being delivered, not how it is delivered.
- Make the outputs predictable in form and timing. Make sure you send work to clients when they can review it (10 am when they can review, not 10 pm when you have finished the edit) and in a form they can review easily (think about file names, links and reduce complex logins).
- Take feedback on the phone! (you know you can watch a draft with a client and take edit notes from them rather then them doing it). Use modern technology to your advantage.
[pullquote]… give staff the freedom you need to create and manage a platform gives your team freedom.[/pullquote]
So cut out vague processes, wasted time and unclear administration procedures to make better business with more rewarding creative results. It will also make it easier to get new staff on board and working well with you. That leads me to my final point:
Good process reduces staff turnover
I am going to be honest: Staff turnover is high in agencies because most are bad at onboarding staff and subsequently even worse at managing them. Creative agencies just don’t understand that to give staff the freedom you need to create and manage a platform gives your team freedom. Solve admin issues, see production staff as “project managers” and you will give much greater space for creativity to evolve.
Coming up next week: How agencies can stay agile
Read the previous post:
Part 1: How To Win And Keep Clients
Part 2: How to be More Profitable
This post first appeared on James’ LinkedIn profile.
Featured image of Don Draper from Mad Men.
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