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Better Agency: How to Stay Agile (Part 5 of 5)

Keep it simple, stupid!

Better Agency How to Stay Agile
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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.

Many brands (and their gatekeepers) still take great pride in making it almost impossible to create content.

Brands, Take Off The Shackles!

First, let’s start with the traditional lesson. Many brands (and their gatekeepers) still take great pride in making it almost impossible to create content. If your brand guidelines are 88 pages, do you think your firm will be able to create a lot of creative content?

I think in today’s world where constant content creation is a way of life, making it easier to make brand-consistent content should be every company’s objective. Make guidelines that motivate and are not scary. Make guidelines that can be effectively and completely followed region by region, country by country, language by language. Get rid of the “Brand Bible”!

Make guidelines that motivate and are not scary.

Agile brands focus on “Minimum Brand Requirements”. These brands then focus on making sure everyone knows these are the rules. Then staff and creatives are free to imagine, to create and be proud of doing so. MBR’s allow for agility in the process of content creation.

Agile Brands Make More and Better Content

MBR freedom can give you marketing collateral that is contemporary, locally relevant and produced quickly. As a brand, you have to develop a way of reacting to the opportunities that this way of working creates.

MBR freedom can give you marketing collateral that is contemporary, locally relevant and produced quickly.

How do you facilitate the process? That’s very simple – make decisions faster! This applies in so many parts of businesses: the faster a decision is made in reaction to a proposal from staff or creatives, the faster briefs are approved, the better and faster the approval of drafts, the more you assist agility in production. Also, guess what?- IT’S CHEAPER.

This means you can ask a lot more of your staff as creators and activation channels for your brand but it also gives freedom to creative agencies to come up with good specific focused content and then the war room can focus on activation.

So How Can Creative Work Itself Be Agile?

As an agency, you need to characterise yourself in a few behaviours that are very clear to your clients. Sprint Steps, Sprint Reviews and React to Change. You do not have to lose your spark. In fact, this keeps the fire alight.

Sprint Steps, Sprint Reviews and React to Change.

Sprint Steps – Reduce the project sizes to the small reasonable size. This is to make sure that you complete quickly and learn effectively. How does this work in business terms? Market entry-level experiences to new clients and break big client work in clear steps.

Sprint Reviews – Make sure that steps are frequent and make sure all the team updates each other on where they are. Keep the updates headlines only. Try to do the same with clients – progress tracked daily is much easier to understand than monthly.

React to Change –  If you veer off course you will waste too much time. So take on the opportunity to change direction every time there is material new information whether it be from the team, the client, the market or the competition.

Working like this will probably force you to work a bit differently, maybe use fewer resources or less cumbersome equipment and reduce the team size to a minimum. It will force you to freelance out work in bite-sized pieces only. It will also give a much better client experience that will get the creativity flowing in both directions.

And that’s the end of James’ 5-part mini-series. Hope you’ve learnt something!

Read the previous post:

Part 1: How To Win And Keep Clients

Part 2: How to be More Profitable

Part 3: How to Win Pitches Against Big Agencies

Part 4: How To Win Big Accounts

This post first appeared on James’ LinkedIn profile.

Featured image of Don Draper from Mad Men.


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After 20 years as a business operator and investor, I know a thing or two about business: When to start, how to scale, what can become sustainable and when to profit. I’m a not a woo-woo strategist – I believe the simpler the solution and the more widely understood the process, the more effective it’ll be.
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