How sad. Our business, which has for generations attracted so many amazingly talented people, is squeezing the life out of its best and brightest. The recession delivered a big blow, for sure. So has the trend of revolving CMOs, the affects of which trickle downstream to the agencies. So has the pressure to measure and report results on a timely basis. So has the belief that clients can do much of what we do in-house. So has social media, which has cut some marketing budgets in half (though this can be a new revenue center for some shops). So has the low barrier to entry, which has allowed seemingly anyone with a Mac to hang an agency shingle and pick off projects from clients that are no longer committed to one agency.
Look, these tough economic times have hit a lot of industries in the gut, and few folks in any business are hitting the cover off the ball right now. However, the ad-agency business is still a good business. Sure, margins are under pressure and agencies need to learn to create on multiple platforms. But even though the tools have changed, the fundamentals are the same: If you've got game, and have something unique to sell, you will thrive.
So here are some things to consider to help you get your groove back:
Be selective. On any given week, your agency will get lots of new-business leads. I know ours does. I suggest you bite the bullet, and pitch fewer, but better clients. Believe me it's tough to do, as every agency owner sees the revenue potential in most client prospects. However, being more selective allows you to focus on one or two meaningful client opportunities. And better, bigger clients will bring back your smile.
Judge an advertising award show. Steeping yourself in great work for a day or two will remind you of why you got into the business.
Upgrade the talent in your agency. It will not only make you more proud to walk into a client meeting with better work under your arm (or on your laptop), bigger ideas will help you grow your client relationships with improved results.
Be inventive in your approach to business. Maybe you can collaborate in a joint-venture with a client, and share in the profits. Or create a brand on your own and launch it into the marketplace -- think of the agency fees you'll save on promoting it!
I hope that next time I connect with other agency owners around the globe, they can't wait to tell me how good things are in their shops. Remember those days? They can be here again.