Position Paper: Principal Priorities

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.

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Position Paper: Rethinking the Potential of Pro Bono

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.

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Position Paper: Qualifying Clients

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.

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Position Paper: Raising Your Prices

Every year or two, creative service firms begin thinking about their pricing for going forward, and specifically whether to raise it and how to go about it. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider.

Three Places to Start

First, don’t think of your hourly rate as a pricing tool, because it’s really more of a positioning tool. It is just one of many inputs that feed how prospects/clients view your services, but it is a substantive one. How much you charge per hour is directly related to the perceived value of your services. In fact, the only time you should talk about your hourly rate is when you want to make a positioning statement or in answer to a direct question asked by a prospect/client. Otherwise don’t talk about it.

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Position Paper: Reasons to Market

Marketing consistently is the most important thing you can do for your firm. Marketing is not primarily about the quantity, but rather the quality of business you have. In fact, marketing often doesn’t happen because principals don’t understand that well. They are busy and think that marketing will just make it worse (i.e., busier). But marketing is about becoming less busy and making more money. It’s about options.

Over the years we’ve gathered a list of the reasons why marketing should always be happening. Here are a few:

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Position Paper: Recognizing Growth Pains

Growing pains (defined as increasing the net employee count) seem to have common themes in the small marketing firms we work with. The average firm grows at 30% a year. Real, internal growth (vs. growth through merger or acquisition) is more manageable at something less than that average, since as humans we cannot seem to adapt that quickly. (This average growth statistic may explain the unusually high failures in the same industry.)

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Position Paper: Staffing Decisions With the Greatest Impact on Clients

Your clients care more about how the work is managed and delivered than the work itself.

Many of you are going to disagree with that statement, and I’m fine with that, but I wanted to put it in a separate paragraph just to be very clear about what I’ve noticed when listening to hundreds of your clients over the years. Yes, I can’t count how many times they’ve told me that they place great value on an agency that “gets it” in their ability to listen, push the envelope appropriately, and consistently hit home runs out of the park. But the work itself just needs to be good enough (that is not a negative in spite of the way it sounds), while the management and delivery of that work needs to be remarkable.

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Press Item: David C. Baker Named "Mentor" for Entrepreneur Center

David C. Baker was named a "mentor" for the Entrepreneur Center. EC Mentors come from all backgrounds and types, however they all love helping innovative and driven entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. The EC Mentoring Program helps individuals apply their lifetime of business experience to helping startups launch successfully.

The Center certifies all mentors through our training program and teaches the best practices for fostering innovation.

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