Three New Year's Resolutions Your Agency Needs to Make

Stop Selling, Pitch Less and Have Fun

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Tom Martin
Tom Martin
Last year I offered up Five New Year's Resolutions You Can't Afford Not to Make and judging by the amount and quality of comments, everyone liked the idea. I'm a big fan of resolutions. Each year I personally make three. Most years I'm lucky if I successfully complete one -- as was the case this year -- so I carry two forward and add a third. In that spirit, let me offer up three resolutions that I hope every ad agency will strive for this year.

Stop Selling and Start Fulfilling. As in stop selling what you're staffed to create and start fulfilling the very new needs that your clients have today.

Clients today need so much more than communications campaigns. They need psychologists, sociologists, statisticians, strategists, negotiators, experientialists, directors, producers, creators, explorers and yes, sometimes magicians. This means you're likely going to retrain and quite possibly retire a few folks. The skill sets required in today's full service agency are different. We need to recognize that and staff accordingly.

Then we need to rethink our entire approach to marketing. Deconstruct it from the point of purchase backwards to the point where the consumer first recognizes he has a need he wishes to fulfill. Then make sure we have the folks on staff that can create ideas, approaches and tools to affect the decision process at each and every point along the decision continuum.

Pitch Less. Pitching should be like getting married. You didn't date every girl you met. You focused your attention on a few and eventually to one. And when the moment of truth came, you were pretty sure you knew the answer before you asked the question. So why not approach your new-business program the same way? I'm guessing you'll pitch less but win more. Given that every moment you spend pitching something you lose is in essence lost revenue and wasted time, isn't it just good business to only pitch when you're almost certain you'll win?

Be Sexy Again. There was a time when advertising was sexy. Young people coming out of college wanted to be in advertising. When you told folks you were an "ad man" they were a tad jealous. But somewhere along the way, our industry stopped believing in itself and started paying far too much attention to the mainstream media with their whole "the 30-second spot is dead" and "the consumer will create ads in the future" crap. Don't kid yourself. Advertising is science and art. Sure, some guy can create a funny ad that wins the USA Today poll, but to create compelling communications day in and day out that build and sustain brands over time is hard work done by talented professionals.

Besides, advertising is still the most fun you can have with your clothes on and not go to jail. It's still enormously sexy. It's still incredibly fun and exciting. So act like it. Hold your head up. Be proud of what you do. Put a little swagger back in your step. If you want your clients to think you're the smartest kid in the class, then act like it. And of course, be it.

That's it for me. Three resolutions to start the year with a hope that we'll all accomplish at least one. So Happy New Year to everyone. I hope it is a prosperous, fun and wild ride for you. And be sure to add a few resolutions of your own in the comments section.

Tom Martin is President of Zehnder Communications, with offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. He can be reached at Or follow him at @TomMartin.
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