Too many times our clients have called and said something like: “We are so busy, it looks like it’s time to add someone. Can you help us think through the right person to add, and how their role should be structured?” We usually back up and say: “Let’s walk through whether you really need someone. First, why are you adding someone?” “Well, we are very busy.” The conversation continues in that vein, as we probe for the real reasons. Often the principal feels like they are being pushed toward growth because clients need more stuff done. That’s not a good reason.Read More
There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace about hourly rates, and the bad practices in the past don’t deserve emulation now. Let’s think a little more clearly about the function of hourly rates at your firm.Read More
A large percentage of the marketing community works at in-house departments within large corporations. The designers and illustrators and photographers and writers and strategists who choose to work in those settings do so for the opportunity, structure, benefits, predictable hours, career paths, and greater collaboration.
If you doubt that a large percentage of designers, for example, are not working for small firms, attend any conference in this field and just look at the attendee list. But in spite of their large numbers, they are underserved in some ways. All the craft topics are applicable, but there is very little advice on how to run a marketing department. How should it be structured? What systems will ensure good work that is also timely? How should that department be marketed?Read More
The notion to write about this comes from the fact that there’s been more merger/acquisition (M/A) activity in this field recently than I’ve ever seen in any six-month period. What’s especially notable is that it’s occurring in a difficult economic climate.
For background, over the last 15+ years I’ve been the lead advisor on nearly 150 transactions, crafting 700+ valuations in the process. (If you’d like to use the valuation formula in your buy/sell agreement, you are welcome to do so for free.)Read More
You really have no business starting a business and not making good money, eventually. Money itself is just a tool, for good or bad, but when you start a business you’re declaring your intent to be profitable (after paying yourself a fair wage). Hopefully you’ll make money in an ethical manner, fully understanding the power (for good) that it can have.Read More
What will the next couple of years look like at your firm? Before answering that question, let me list my assumptions: that you are competent, that you are not working in one of the very few areas that is not doing well, and that you have entrepreneur’s disease.
If you’ve had your head down just getting things done, you may not have realized how well advertising, design, public relations, and interactive firms are doing these days. With very few exceptions, principals are finally getting back to the point where they can be pickier about what clients they work for.Read More
How do you keep key departing employees from hurting your business relationships? You could ask them to sign an agreement restricting their ability to compete for a specified period of time after they are terminated. These may be called Restrictive Covenants or Non-Compete Agreements.
There are two basic kinds of restrictive covenants. The traditional “non-compete” prohibits the employee from competing against the company in the same business in a certain geographic area for a specific period of time. The more limited “non-soliciting” or “non-servicing” covenant allows an employee to keep working in the same business, but prohibits the employee from soliciting business from or rendering services to the company’s clients for a specified period of time.Read More
There’s no end to the financial advice available about what to do in a downturn (including our own podcast), so I’d like to focus on the priorities that principals and managers should follow as they lead the agency. If that doesn’t describe you, perhaps you could pass this along to someone who might benefit from it.
Without a single exception, there are five priorities for where the principal focuses. But it’s not just the list that’s important—the sequence is also in a very specific order. You make sure you’re doing the first one, and if that’s all you have time to do, then so be it. But if you are doing the first one well, you can and should advance to the second priority. And so on, until there is no more time or energy left.Read More
Pro bono publico is a latin phrase that refers to the application of your professional expertise to some “public good” as a service rendered, without pay. It’s long been a part of the creative services industry, but it’s not typically managed well in three particular aspects.Read More
If a client relationship is like marriage, then the marketing process is like dating. Since one will flow from the other, it’s difficult to overestimate the importance of “intentional dating” as you seek new client relationships. Unless the standard is set high at this stage, you’ll be exerting far too much effort in trying to change your clients. That’s energy not very well spent. Better to screen potential clients and be choosier about prospective partners at the outset. Here are some thoughts you might adapt to your own situation.Read More