Large and small agencies should learn from each other
A key pain point for businesses as they grow is how to maintain culture while reducing reliance on the founder as the business scales. Rachel Bell believes the key is to have the rigor of a big agency but the entrepreneurial culture of a small agency. From day one, businesses need structured financial processes, clear success metrics to track against, and robust planning cycles. As the agency grows, building smaller business units headed up by trusted individuals allows the entrepreneurial spirit to be scaled and embedded into teams.
Growth is cyclical
Bell described the journey to growth being a series of sprints and regroups. Adrian Talbot added that agencies will hit a series of sticking points as they hit certain sizes – typically around multiples of three and powers of 10. He describes this as the soufflé effect – a significant rise, followed by a small dip as the business adjusts to its next stage of growth.
Change a little to change a lot
How many times in agency life do you lose a pitch and the feedback is that it was a very close decision? To win more pitches, argues Kat McGettigan, it is not about a total overhaul, but small, incremental gains. Walk away from pitches where you are not getting the right access, or where you are too stretched to deliver – it is better not to pitch at all than to pitch with a substandard deck. Collaborate – bring everyone involved on the journey, and work together across teams to ensure the pitch tells a cohesive story, and bring in a colleague who hasn’t been involved in the opportunity to act as a critical friend and share feedback.
If you see DE&I as an initiative, you’re probably doing it wrong
Diversity and inclusion need to be wired into your organisation, explained Jo-Ann Robertson and Janita Lakhanpal. It involves a collective effort, with diverse decision makers, and inclusive practices. Sheeraz Gulsher echoed this by saying that businesses need to focus more on internal practices than the external message. Clients also want to see that their agency partners are taking DE&I seriously – Jo Ogunleye and Charlotte West noted this was a key factor in their procurement process when bringing on board new agencies.
It’s all about relationships
But we knew that anyway, didn’t we? This was a thread which came through in virtually all the discussions. The in-house panel named chemistry and trust as vital factors in selecting an agency partner, with the people around the table trumping the agency proposition every time. Internal collaboration, building diverse and inclusive teams, involving them in the creative process, championing and modelling growth mindsets within the business are all key – without these people-focused activities, you will never drive growth or effect change.
In the agency world, we can sometimes shy away from sharing the “secret sauce” of our success, but this forum demonstrated the value of bringing together agency leaders to share their knowledge, and collectively tackle common challenges. Thank you PR Moment for this valuable opportunity to learn.