Take the Stairs -- Not the Escalator -- to Create the Agency of 2010

Re-evaluate Your Approach in Order to Thrive Next Year and Beyond

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Marc Brownstein
Marc Brownstein
The keynote speaker at a conference I attended this past week hit a nerve with me. In a good way.

Motivational speaker Rory Vaden spoke about "taking the stairs." By that, he means that in order to get to the top in business (and in life), you have to avoid the escalator, which is the easy way to get to where you want to go. You see, most people take the escalator or elevator. Go to any sporting event, and that is what you'll see: If an escalator and a staircase are side-by-side, nearly everyone takes the escalator. In office buildings, people routinely take the elevator one or two floors, when a little exercise would do them some good.

Why?

Because it takes less effort. But Rory's point is that no one became successful by taking short cuts. Working hard and having a smart plan to maneuver through difficult situations is what separates successful companies and those that fail. It's an important lesson for the ad-agency industry. It is a reminder that winning takes discipline, planning, perseverance and flawless execution.

How well does your agency consistently do on those attributes? You could probably always improve. And that is why I chose to share it with you.

I believe agencies need to take the steps with the following three areas in order to thrive moving forward:

  1. Embrace change. While many agencies have evolved to a new structure and approach, too many small agencies continue to behave as the shop they were five years ago. Yet they sell their wares as digital or fully integrated, when in fact they are aspiring to do so. Be honest with yourself and your clients. Make the hard decisions internally, and evolve your shops to one built for 2010. Then, go out and authentically sell your wares.

  2. Get the right talent in your shop, and the wrong talent out. So hard to take these steps, but so critically important to do.

  3. Adopt a mentality for analytics. Coming from a creative guy, this might sound crazy, but I talk to dozens of clients every day, and I know what I hear from them. They need their agency to track and measure performance of their marketing like never before. We provide this service at our shop, but are now planning to make it a dedicated service for clients. It's that important. Think about the client retention and growth opportunities when you have tangible evidence of the power of your agency's thinking.

It would be so much easier to just take the escalator in the agency business. But that would be the equivalent of pretending that the business world hasn't changed. Taking the steps isn't a nice to; it's a need to. Let's race up them together.

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