Blog Posts

The Elephant Isn’t Always in the Room

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Agency Search Tips, Blog Posts

Having played a pivotal role in hundreds of ad agency searches over our 20-years, we’ve witnessed surprise and disappointment. And the elephant isn’t always in the room. Whether you’re an agency or a client planning to search for an agency, it’s important to stress that there are no hard and fast rules for running an agency search, nor are there any laws on the books that dictate the “process” or penalties for non-compliance. It’s not unusual for a non C-Suite individual to take the helm, to engage a consultant or search service, or to begin a Google search to do-it-themselves. In all cases they represent to the invited agencies, and truly believe themselves that they are “authorized” to be running the review.

Agencies-in-the-know have learned to ask questions; many questions. Like “What’s your process?” “What other individuals will be involved in the decision-making?” “Do you have an incumbent and will they be asked to participate?” Some clients will hedge answering, so based on experience a wise agency would choose to withdraw. That is, unless the agency is seriously pressed for new business and associated revenue.

So a review process might proceed with telephone interviews, an orderly examination of candidates, often agency site visits that progress to the identification of “finalists.” Finalists make final presentations, the work product of substantial agency time, creativity, expense and lost sleep. Then the process stalls. The original announced decision date comes and goes. The once-dependable review manager isn’t returning calls or emails. Then comes surprise and disappointment – even those led to believe they had the “inside track” and that they were favored, receive their “Dear John” email and little more. Not who was selected and why; not how or who made the decision, not why they weren’t the favorite.

We sometimes manage to discover the Elephant. Might turn out the CEO worked with an agency elsewhere before, and happened to tell them earlier they were running a review. The “ringer agency” pitched the CEO privately and the CEO pulled rank. Sorry! No apologies or explanation. We know of one review manager who resigned in protest.

The Lesson? Everything is fair in love, war and agency search! Be advised.

#adagencysearch #agencysearch #

Why do agency owners fire their business development person?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Business development is the toughest job in advertising and no wonder it is the shortest. On average, a BD person lasts about 18 months. The challenge of marshaling all agency resources to a pitched frenzy in between the daily client demands is no easy task. The insane deadlines to turn around a pitch or RFP that should normally take months is high stress. While the average success rate is only 1 in 4, a real confidence killer.  Who would want to do such work? Better yet, if you found someone who does, why give up on them so easily?

I’ve been fired, reorganized out, earned too much commission, a casualty of market collapses and even the victim of the CEO’s mistress. In most cases, it’s very hard to understand except in the case of the CEO’s lust. If a small to mid-size agency, on average, loses three accounts or projects each year (that average is increasing as a result of the accelerated change across the industry) they have to gain three to stay merely even. If an agency wants to grow, they have to have a focused, aggressive effort in place to simply beat the odds. But so often, just as things get started, they fire their BD person.

I’ve had lots of conversation about this, and the reasons are pretty common.  First, the pool of good candidates is actually very small. Just ask the recruiters. The people who “say” they can or who have some “sales” experience is quite large. Finding a good fit for the unique nature of an agency BD person is really really tough.  Second, creating a good environment for a business development person to be successful is so often misunderstood, misinformed, or missed altogether. Finally, expectations are often not aligned with the realities of how agency new business happens. Think about any position within your agency and how any other staff would fare under these conditions – ill-equipped, unsupported and misaligned expectations. It is no wonder BD people don’t last

First, you have to find the right person.

There are abundant opinions about the best qualities of an ad agency business development person. A hunter? A farmer? A hunter- farmer? None of the above? What are the best qualities of a person who can successfully match a good client with a deserving agency like yours? It is someone who can strategically communicate what you do, can uncover the prospect’s real needs and then translate your services into the best solution, all while establishing trust and collegiality. To be successful that person has to know how clients think, how they think about agencies (not always good), what they think they need from an agency and how they evaluate such services in the context of their role in the corporate world. Above all, they must be iron-willed to preserver rejection, disappointment, and failure – in between the wins.

I’ve seen agency owners fall for someone who is good at making cold calls (something every agency owner hates), is great at starting a conversation with anybody and is effervescent at a meeting. Too seldom do they focus on whether that person has the right qualities to close business. I’ve also seen great account directors cast in the role and quickly become demoralized and dispirited. Talking to strangers and carrying a conversation are a good start but far short of the skills necessary to move from talk to action. The best BD people can develop a respectful relationship, build agency brand value and differentiation before a conversation is even had. A great BD person makes it look effortless – which is why so “accidental” BD people think they can do it.

Home security systems and used car warranties are best sold by cold calling. The most current statistics affirm this. Long term business building relationships require a much different approach that reflects the changing behaviors of the very people you seek to connect with and the trends of the empowered consumer. You are not in a commodity business. You aren’t selling hourly services. You are selling what your people, your strategy and your expertise can do to solve a market’s needs. Sadly too many agencies try to take shortcuts like grabbing phone numbers from gigantic databases of marketing executives that every other desperate agency subscribes to, too. Believe me. I know that feeding frenzy all to well.

Second, you have to provide the right support.

I am surprised by the number of agencies who say they want to but are not prepared to grow.  Agency new business is a team effort, and when you aren’t set up internally to handle the process or don’t have a process at all, you will not succeed. As an agency owner, you have to know when to get involved and when to step back. A good BD person will free up your time but also knows when to bring you into the mix to help develop a strategy or close a new client. The key is to have a well-defined process in place so that your time isn’t wasted on unqualified prospects or micromanaging every lead. Your BD person will know when to keep moving the prospect further down the funnel and when to call in the cavalry. When agencies look to cheat the process by generating volumes of leads, the time burden on the owner and all the resources in the agency becomes extreme, disruptive and puts your employees and current clients at great risk.

Many agencies say they want to grow and do a good job getting the effort rolling but fail in the follow through. Again, the agency is not committed to growing – no teamwork, no training, no optimization, no introspection. To be successful, the BD person must be an integral part of the agency, tied into the project management system, financial health and culture. He or she should be included in happy hour, agency retreats, team building efforts and production meetings. They must be aware how busy the agency is, and whether or not to ramp up or down the process. And they should share the new business activity with the whole agency, so everyone knows what projects are coming down the pike.

Third, you have to set the right expectations.

So often the expectations are wrong from the start. Agency owners want immediate impact. But it doesn’t happen overnight. The average client-agency relationship is three years. That is a long sales cycle. Sure, there are clients in the market right now looking for help. Finding them, warming them up and building trust that enables a new business win is a long process. My last cold caller hadn’t scored a win in 18 months. There is that magic number. The odds of catching someone with a need and willingness to talk from a chance interaction is greater than being hit by lightning. Success comes from the right person working a proper strategy so that when a need arises that marketer already knows you, knows what you offer and will be more likely open to the conversation.

Don’t fire your BD person.

As the agency owner, you are always going to be the chief growth officer and you should be spending a reasonable portion of your time making sure your agency is on track. Hiring a good BD person can be a force-multiplier by channeling your vision, working a consistent pipeline and developing relationships that result in more new clients coming over time – but only if you make sure you are committed to long-term growth.  Of course, there are always going to be legitimate reasons to fire new biz people. Too often agency owners do so for the wrong reasons, and that is costing them success.

If you liked this post and want more new business advice delivered to your inbox sign up for the newsletterLets Grow!

Guest Author – the Famous John Heenan #LetsGrow!

WHO WILL BE THE ADULT IN THE ROOM?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

I recently heard two pitching/procurement stories in two days, each from a different agency president in a different market, and each with a different outcome.

In the first story, the president of a large ad agency (I’ll call him agency president #1) told me about a significant, highly coveted pitch his firm had “nailed.” After it appeared they were the ordained firm they then had to meet with procurement. Procurement delivered the bad news. “If you want the business you’ll have to accept that we’re not paying you for any work you’ve done to date.” (The agency had already done rounds of revisions and had understood they would be paid if they won.) The agency was then told the fees on offer were one third of what they had proposed. But it got worse. “There’s no negotiating,” the procurement person explained while showing the agency president what he said were the lower fees proposed by their competitors. “You can take it or leave it.”

“Of course, we had to take it,” he explained to me.

The next day I met with another agency president (let’s call him #2)–this time of a smaller but still substantial performance marketing firm who didn’t have too much experience in dealing with procurement. He told me about his first time. His agency was convinced by a sizeable client to do a small digital pilot project on spec with the lure of winning a $500,000 annual retainer. Their pilot performed well and they were awarded the business. Then they too were told they had to meet with procurement who said, “We’re not paying you $500k. The fees on offer are $300k. Take it or leave it.” Indignant, agency president #2 walked away. A few days later the client came back and gave them the business on the original terms–a $500k annual retainer. That was two years ago, president #2 told me, and the account has grown significantly since. “They pay us fairly and they hold us to really high standards,” he said. “It’s how we like it.”

I told him the contrasting story I had heard the day before and I remarked that if he had caved on that first experience instead of walking away he would have begun to hardwire the belief that “Of course, we had to take it.”

Do You Really Have to Take It?

Why do agencies get themselves into these situations where they feel they have to take work on onerous terms, where they have to put up with procurement’s powerplay moves and where they have no power to affect price? I’ll explain below a few of the things president #1 could have done differently before, during and after the selection process to ensure a better outcome, but let’s go back to agency president #2 who walked away, only to get the account on the originally agreed upon terms. I remarked to him that if it were me in that moment I would have wanted to know which of the two people on the client side had lied to me. Was it the marketing exec who said the budget was $500k, or the procurement person who said it was $300K? (Of course it was procurement. Procurement is one of the only professions where it is universally taught that it’s okay to lie.) But I would have asked each individual to their face, “Which one of you lied to me?”

These are the direct conversations we need to be having. Why does this behaviour get a free pass? Would you accept such behaviour from your team members, partners, vendors or children? Why is it okay to accept such lies and strong-arm tactics from a client–someone you’re proposing to “partner” with? Is that how partners treat each other?

It Happens to Me, Too

I spend a lot of time delivering workshops on these principles to agency owners and executives. After one such event, the finance department of the organizing body ignored their contractually-agreed obligation to pay the final instalment of my workshop fee. On enquiry, we were told, “We have a payment run on [11 days away] – I will include the invoice as a proposal for payment.”

So, a well-intentioned organization that wants its members to change how they sell has its own embedded bias against any other organization selling them anything. The goodwill between the buyer and seller gets eroded by established procurement processes that seek to optimize financial efficiency.

A tenet of systems thinking is any attempt to optimize a subsystem will have a sub-optimizing effect on the greater system. A finance department allowed to operate with too much independence will see pushing average supplier terms from 45 days to 60 days as a victory. A procurement department that cuts its marketing company’s fees by 40% thinks they’ve won. Both of these “wins” have a negative effect on the quality of what it is they are buying and the relationship between the two organizations, but these departments are rarely held accountable for the costly impairment to the greater system–the client company.

You’ve Been Chosen

When such practices are employed, somebody has to be the adult in the room. Somebody has to call people out on poor behaviour or deleterious practices–even if those practices are codified in policy. Ideally, that someone is the client, but don’t hold your breath, it’s almost always going to have to be you.

If you want financial success then you are going to have to accept that these conversations are almost always going to fall to you, and you have a responsibility—to everyone on both sides of the table—to do the right thing and speak up when nobody else will. The alternative is you resign yourself to a low-margin career of “having to take it.”

We got paid within 60 minutes of me calling out bad behaviour. Agency president #2 got his originally-agreed upon terms by walking away. Let’s explore what agency president #1 could have done instead of just taking it.

Alternatives to “Taking It”

There are many things agency president #1 and his team could have done differently. Setting aside some of the more strident Win Without Pitching approaches that would see the firm trying to fully derail the pitch, they could have:

Pre Pitch

  • Asked the client to clarify the role of procurement before they agreed to the pitch. And if they were at all concerned about procurement’s role or tactics they could have asked for a meeting before agreeing to participate.
  • Asked marketing or senior leaders from outside of procurement to sit in on that meeting.
  • Established a minimum fee level in advance.
  • Asked the client to state the budget rather than just guess.

Mid Pitch

  • Stopped at the moment in the pitch where they knew they had nailed it and negotiated terms for continuing.

Post Pitch

  • Employed an outside expert negotiator to deal with procurement.
  • Viewed procurement’s take-it-or-leave it move as the bluff it likely was and negotiate alternatives, or
  • Walked away, like agency president #2

None of the above are Win Without Pitching judo moves that require any sort of skilled practice to pull off, they’re just common sense approaches available to anyone who is ready to accept the responsibility of being the adult in the room. You can do this.

PS: A Final Word on President #1’s Difficult Position

Agency president #2 found it easy to walk away from a bad deal because he is the majority owner of the firm and an entrepreneur who has a strong sense of being able to control his and his firm’s future. Agency president #1 is in a different boat. He has to report to global, who reports to the holding company, whose CEO reports to shareholders. And these shareholders are increasingly unhappy. In such an environment the pressure not to lose is immense.

For agency president #1 to push back, the battle he would have to fight with the client is nothing compared to the internal battle he would have to wage. In a multi-layered firm like his, for every brave soul willing to push back and have the adult conversation, there are many more who would prefer not to rock the boat, even if it’s exactly what’s required to save the boat from sinking.

I guess my question is, who are you? Are you the progressive force for change in your agency, having the adult conversations and leading your entire team by your example, or are you the one signalling to others that “we just have to take it”?

Another Great Piece by Visiting Author Blain Enns, CEO Win Without Pitching

Help This Firm Fight Unsightly Pimples; They’re Calling For a Clean Sweep Using Direct Marketing

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Pitchcast, USA/North America

Established Midwest manufacturer of body cleansing and prepping products, primarily for athletes, now ready to tackle the bane of adolescents – pimples! Interestingly, not looking for digital whiz kids; rather seeks conventional proven direct marketing techniques. You’ll need experience with Cosmetics, toiletries, feminine hygiene products and Drugs (prescription & OTC). Budget yet to be announced but will cover fees and production only.

They’re Stealing Your New Business Leads!

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

That’s right, and stealing leads from right from under your nose. Some suggest with your permission.

And who’s doing that? It’s the fine IT folks at your place and everywhere. In their blind enthusiasm to keep your agency or company safe from spam and phishing, they built an almost impenetrable wall (there’s that word) around your organization and it works there! That’s fine for most. But for those engaged in new business, business development or lead capture, they’re stealing your leads and sending them to trash.

Working as the agency search consult we are, for years we sent agency invitations starting with an email alert, then a full invite via fax and finally a follow-up phone call or message. Still ringing in our ears are agencies declaring – “Nobody uses faxes anymore; please use email.” We started doing so this year, and it’s been a disaster. Agency silence in ignorance is deafening. Follow-up calls go to voicemail – often ignored. After repeated back & fourths, the invite with attachment is found – deep within trash folders. One of our buried emails just surfaced at an agency with subject line modified to read ‘Possible Junk – Business Opportunity w/Quick Decision Required.” Thanks IT for keeping us safe and costing us all the business we seek!

Is there a lesson to be learned? Absolutely! Every day at the end of the day, be sure to look and work your way through your Junk folder. Make it a habit to scroll through all that’s there. If you don’t already, you’ll soon get in the habit of spotting good news from bad. While you’re there, move anything worth further examination to your Inbox. It will post back in date sequence, so when you open for tomorrow, go back at least a day to find those you moved up.

The message here? Don’t lose valuable leads just because your IT folks have built a wall that works!

 

Clients Pulling The Plug

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Partenerships

Guest Author, Drew McLellan of Agency Management Institute

Each spring, I walk my live network members through the trends that I have been tracking and believe are going to impact the coming year. One of the trends I am going to be talking about this go around is a pretty ugly one. Clients seem to have much shorter fuses when it comes to agencies these days.

Clients are literally picking up the phone (or worse, sending a break-up email) and pulling the plug on the unsuspecting agency with no forewarning, discussions about dissatisfaction, or severance time frame. It’s a “hi, effective immediately or if they really generous — to the end of the month), we’re moving on. Thanks for your service.”

I am seeing it happen to big agencies from big brands (both B2C and B2B) and I am seeing it happen to smaller agencies with local or regional brands. I don’t get a sense that there’s any geographical aspect to this either.

There have always been horrific break-up stories but in the past, when an agency and client went their separate ways, there were some conversations, some expression of discontent and some time period to re-earn the trust of the client.

That seems to be less common these days. So what do we do about this unpleasant trend?

  • Are you (the owner) investing in building a relationship with your client’s CEO/owner/leader?
  • When was the last time you invested in a client satisfaction survey and reacted to the results?
  • Are your AEs helping your clients achieve business goals and tackle business problems every single day? (Do they understand strategy enough to do that?)
  • Are you holding regular (quarterly for large clients, annually for smaller ones) celebrations/planning events with your entire client and agency team?

We can’t just sit back and let this trend kick us in the teeth. We need to be proactive now so we can dodge the impact of this new wave of bad manners and bad break up etiquette.

What else are you doing to make sure you aren’t on the receiving end of this trend?

Find out why Connelly Partners’ leader doesn’t want staff to work from home

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Consultancy

by Lindsay Stein, Campaign Magazine

But the agency president and copywriter does believe in work-life balance.

Connelly Partners’ President and Copywriter Steve Connelly believes that working from home kills agency culture. However, he also tells employees, “If you don’t have a life outside of the office, you are useless to me.”

These are two of Connelly’s “strands of DNA,” which he tells Campaign US is a “blend of pragmatism and some basic human tribal beliefs I have that help us yield good work.”

He explained that no one can be creative 24 or 12 hours a day and he doesn’t expect staffers to work very long hours, but he does want them to be focused when they’re in the office.

“I have kids in their 20s and I certainly hear a lot about liberal work from home policies and I think that’s fine if you’re into productivity and staying connected, but if your focus and priority is culture, which mine is, then you have to be in the office, you have to talk to people and feel the energy around you,” he said.

But this doesn’t mean the agency doesn’t believe in work-life balance. Connelly said that if a staffer needs to work from home because he or she needs a mental health day or has a sick child, he’s totally fine with that. Plus, the shop offers unlimited vacation days.

“What you need to do to take time to refresh and stay charged and bring new experiences into the office you should do, but I’m not saying that I’ll pay for three days and then have you work from home on the fourth and fifth day. That’s not culturally beneficial,” he said.

Mothers who want or need to work from home are on a case-by-case basis. Connelly said he wants to make sure he stays connected with working moms and gets them back in the workplace, but he says if you’re in a leadership position, “You can’t lead by phone – you need to lead by example.”

He said he’d rather have a working mother tap into a truncated schedule in which she comes in earlier and leaves earlier than have her work from home.

Connelly also strongly believes in having a life outside of the office. “The more successful you become in this business, the more you’re taken away from what made you successful – the everyday things and people,” he said.

He added:” If you’re job is to tell so a wide range of people, you better be able to observe a wide range of lives. Go learn, live and find, and sometimes you suck up experiences without even knowing it.”

The agency’s culture is “familial” and “imperfect like most families, but with a lot of honest inside,” according to Connelly. The shop was built around a living room, kitchen table and bar because those rooms are often where the best conversations take place. “It’s a very educated treehouse,” said Connelly.

For agencies looking to figure out or build their own cultures, Connelly has some advice: “Please understand that culture is organic  If you’re going to commit to culture, understand that you are the dirt, not the seed or plant, and your job is to provide the best growing environment.”

Note: Steve Connelly and his agency are proudly “one of ours!”

Once the rage; Now everyone hates open offices. Here’s why they still exist

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Consultancy

Employees don’t like them. Research proves they’re ineffective. Why is it taking so long for us to get rid of them?

First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

There’s just one problem. Employees hate open offices. They’re distracting. They’re loud. There’s often little privacy. “The sensory overload that comes with open-office plans gets to a point where I can barely function,” says one 47-year-old graphic designer who has spent more than two decades working in open environments. “I even had to quit a job once because of it.”

For as long as these floor plans have been in vogue, studies have debunked their benefits. Researchers have shown that people in open offices take nearly two-thirds more sick leave and report greater unhappiness, more stress, and less productivity than those with more privacy. A 2018 study by Harvard Business School found that open offices reduce face-to-face interaction by about 70% and increase email and messaging by roughly 50%, shattering the notion that they make workers collaborative. (They’re even subtly sexist.) And yet, the open plan persists–too symbolically powerful (and cheap) for many companies to abandon.

As with so many things today, we have Google, at least in part, to thank. Open floors have existed since the secretarial pools of the 1940s, but when the then seven-year-old Google renovated its headquarters in Mountain View, California, in 2005, the lofty, light-filled result was more than a showcase for the company’s growing wealth and influence; it signaled the dawn of a new professional era. Architect Clive Wilkinson eschewed the cubicle-heavy interiors of the company’s previous office for something that resembled a neighborhood: There were still some private spaces, but also lots of communal workplaces and small, glassed-in meeting rooms. “The attitude was: We’re inventing a new world, why do we need the old world?” Wilkinson says. With Google’s rise, his vision for a collaborative workplace took off. “We had [companies] come to us and say, ‘We want to be like Google.’ They were less sure about their own identity, but they were sure they wanted to be like Google.”

Around the same time, a more radical version of the open office was emerging from other startups founded during the dotcom boom of the late ’90s. As these companies proliferated, they looked for cheap ways to differentiate themselves from each other and their predecessors. They found inspiration, Wilkinson says, in the more playful offices that had long been common in the advertising industry. Some moved into the unfinished lofts of San Francisco’s South of Market district–and left them that way. Walls only make things complicated when you’re rapidly adding (and eliminating) staff. “Those places were terrible,” says Joel Spolsky, who cofounded Fog Creek Software in 2000 and is currently the cofounder and CEO of Stack Overflow. “They were so loud, because there were no drop ceilings. It was painful for everybody. But [dotcom startups] were doing it because they had literally no choice.” Out of necessity, an aesthetic was born.

By the time Facebook opened its Frank Gehry–designed Menlo Park headquarters in 2015, the open office had become not just the face of innovation in Silicon Valley but a powerful metaphor. Facebook now houses roughly 2,800 employees in a 10-acre building that the company claims is the largest open floor plan in the world. “The idea is to make the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together,” founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote when he announced the design in 2012. Famously, he has a plain white desk in the communal area, just like everyone else. (He also has a private “conference” room, where he is rumored to spend much of his time.)

The whiff of disruption that open offices carried became irresistible to startups and established companies alike. “When you talk to leaders in corporate real estate or CEOs about why they designed their space [in an open plan], most will give some fluffy answer,” says Ben Waber, cofounder and CEO of workplace analytics company Humanyze, which uses sensors to track how people use offices and interact with each other. “But when you dig down, it’s because this is what the workplaces look like at a couple of highly successful tech companies.” Calvin Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University who studies how people work, takes an even more skeptical view: Open offices have become a way to indicate a company’s value to venture capitalists and talent. The goal is “not to improve productivity and collaboration, but to signal that the company [is] doing something interesting.”

According to Humanyze, open plans are great at encouraging interaction between teams, which is useful when a company is trying to create new products. But they are terrible at encouraging interaction within teams, which is necessary for execution-based work, like writing code, when employees need to be in sync. An open office might be suitable for a company coming up with new ideas, but when someone has to implement them, it becomes distracting.

Of course, one of the main reasons that business leaders default to open plans is simply that they’re inexpensive. According to commercial real estate association CoreNet Global, the average space allotted to individual employees globally fell from 225 square feet in 2010 to 176 square feet in 2013, and is projected to keep decreasing. This adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars–or more–in savings per year at the country’s largest companies, according to calculationsfrom Erik Rood, an analyst in Google’s human resources department who examines corporate financials on his personal blog, Data Interview Qs.

Perhaps no company has exploited these efficiencies more than WeWork, which popularized communal tables and lounge areas in its coworking hubs and now builds out offices for other companies. WeWork distinguishes itself by using its data to compress people into smaller areas–it recently took Expedia’s Chicago office from three floors to two–without, it says, sacrificing employee satisfaction. Liz Burow, WeWork’s director of workplace strategy, says that this entails bringing people closer so they interact more, while also creating a variety of seating arrangements and, yes, even some private areas. “People have different needs throughout their day and their life,” she says. “They might need to focus at a certain point and talk to someone at another point.”

Many architects share this vision. Janet Pogue McLaurin, a principal at the architecture firm Gensler, which has designed dozens of prominent corporate offices, says that the most effective open plans include a host of meeting rooms and private areas for deep concentration. “Innovative companies actually use more spaces throughout the office,” she says. They don’t expect the desk to be the center of an employee’s work life.

It’s an enticing idea. But, as WeWork has found, the most expensive part of an office is the small meeting room. As a workaround, WeWork offers its enterprise clients phone booths–basically, portable pods that can be dropped right into an existing layout.

At 15 square feet, they’re rather tight for a private office. But at least there’s a door.

A Great Read by Katharine Schwab, an associate editor at Fast Company

Four Ways Brand Marketers and Agencies Can Thrive in 2019, According to LO:LA’s Nick Platt

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Business Development

Move over ‘disruptive,’ ‘innovative,’ and ‘smart content.’ For the more culturally savvy, even the word ‘bespoke’ can shuffle to the sidelines for the moment. Right at this very moment, the landscape isn’t just shifting, it’s in a bit of a freefall . . .

The US government is currently shutdown with no apparent end in sight. Markets have suffered the worst December since 1931 (that’s The Great Depression, a pretty bleak moment in economic history). And a lightning speed, relentless news cycle seems to lie in wait for major (and minor) brand fails.

For brands and marketers to simply ‘pivot’ just won’t cut it. In 2019, ‘nimble’ is the new black.

To use Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word, ‘nimble’ is defined by “quick and light in motion, agile” and “marked by quick, alert, clever conception” and “responsive, sensitive.”

So, to be clear, we’re not just talking about being cheaper and faster with a consideration of spend. We’re talking about adapting a new process to meet the challenges of a new year.

Here are four ways that brand marketers and agencies alike can be nimble and thrive in 2019:

1.    Be intelligently fast

With attention spans and news cycles being what they are (re: incredibly short), knee jerk reactions that sacrifice smart thinking for speed can get brands and their agencies  in trouble. Fully consider potential outcomes, both positive and negative, before going to market. Establish checks and balances that must be met, and give your team or agency enough time to do it right.

2.     Tighten up your team

The old model for brands and agencies saw layers upon layers of team members collaborating on a single project. And while I’m all for being a team player, keep your team tight. A smaller team is more streamlined, which means less room for miscommunication, mistakes and mayhem. It also helps with being intelligently fast, too!

3.     Read. Watch. Listen. Repeat.

Here’s where the “responsive” and “sensitive” definition of ‘nimble’ comes in. Depending on who your brand or campaign speaks to – are you reading what they read? Watching what they watch? Listening to the music/podcasts/audiobooks they are? If not,  someone on your (tight) team can be charged with being the eyes and ears on the ground. Getting into the mind of your consumer has always been standard practice, but in a landscape that is increasingly multicultural across race, religion, sexuality and how people identify – it’s never been more important. And once you’ve read, watched, and listened? Do it again.

4.     Admit defeat, but don’t stay defeated

In all of this nimbleness and moving quickly, mistakes will be made. When that happens (and it will, trust me), own up to them in an authentic way. The brands that listen to their consumers when they’ve messed up, honestly admit their mistakes and learn from them are the ones consumers respect. Which leads me to . .

5.     Evolve

Everyone remembers that iconic scene from ‘The Matrix’ when Neo finally becomes the man and hero he was destined to be. He simply took what he already knew and improved upon it. He didn’t try the same thing over and over hoping for different outcomes. I’m challenging brands and agencies to do the same. Take what you know, all the Big Data and research and A/B testing and focus groups and previous wins and fails and evolve. (And if Keanu Reeves dodging Agent Smith’s bullets in a black trench and a crazy backbend isn’t the definition of nimble, I don’t know what is.)

Nick Platt is the CEO and chief creative officer of LO:LA (London: Los Angeles).

What’s Wrong with Billing by the Hour?

Written by ChuckMeyst2015 on . Posted in Blog Posts, Marketing Partenerships

Guest Post By 

If you’re like most agencies, you are still primarily using the billable hour payment. This model relegates you to a manual laborer rather than a solution-driven partner. It also puts you and your clients at odds, rather than forging a better alliance. The good news is there’s another way.

Why do agencies use the billable hour?

The main reason agencies still rely on the billable hour model is because this is how it has always been done. Change rarely comes naturally, whether we’re talking about individuals or large corporations. People find it easier to keep doing things the same way instead of learning a new system. And truth be told, billing by the hour is definitely an easier process because most agencies are set up to track employees’ time.

But this method no longer works. It’s outdated. Back in the days of heavy media buying, when the lion’s share of billing was based on commissions, this method was great. But today’s market is drastically different, and it has different needs.

What’s wrong with billing by the hour?

This model is to the disadvantage of both the agency and the client for a number of reasons:

  • It puts you at odds with your clients. They want to spend less, and you want to earn more. You don’t get the opportunity to work together to discuss the value of your work, so one or both parties are usually dissatisfied with the payment.
  • Similarly, it creates risk for clients since they don’t know how many hours of work you will need to do to complete the job. They’re forced to accept whatever bill you give them, which can make them suspicious and wary of you.
  • It implies that agencies make “stuff,” rather than create ideas or business solutions.
  • It penalizes agencies for technology and other advances that make agencies more efficient.
  • It prevents you from setting the price in advance, which keeps everyone in the dark until the final bill arrives.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it makes you like every other agency in town. If you update to a better model, it communicates that you are pushing ahead of the competition and are not trapped in old methods. This kind of change can make you a leader in your field.

Solution: The value-pricing model

In the value-pricing model, the client and the agency discuss the business outcomes that will be delivered as a result of the work. They set measurable, smart goals and determine the value of achieving those outcomes.

Here’s an example: Let’s say a client in the banking industry would like to get 200 new checking accounts from advertising efforts. The bank’s marketing manager determines that the lifetime value of a checking account customer is $500, so achieving the goal is worth $100,000 in new revenue. She also determines that the bank has a 50 percent close rate on selling a new checking account. So the campaign needs to drive 400 prospects into the bank in order to open 200 new accounts.

The agency can’t be held responsible for the actual sales because there are too many variables outside of its control. But it can present a program that will drive 400 prospects through the door. The agency can now present different options for driving inquiries about checking accounts. The agency knows that the proposals need to be priced in a way that creates a profit for the client. It’s then the agency’s job to deliver the specifics of the proposal within budget.

The client couldn’t care less how many hours the job takes. What the client cares about is results. As long as the agency creates more value than the price it charges, everyone wins.

This process is a much more balanced way to charge the client and to compensate the agency. The client pays for value, not stuff, and the agency is paid based on the success of its efforts, not how much time it took to accomplish the goal.

Value pricing makes it easier for your agency to build strong relationships with your clients because you’re both pulling for the same outcome. In this new model, the clients are in control of the price-to-value ratio, and they are happy that you are making a profit because they are paying for results. You can argue over hours billed, but it’s hard to argue with results.

If you’re still using the billable hour, it’s time to revamp your pricing model. You can stand out in the crowd, create agency-client relationships built on trust and common goals, and benefit from high efficiency. I don’t know of a single agency that doesn’t want those improvements.

AgencyFinder suggests – you won’t be the first, but how about it?

 

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