Everything you need to know about this year's Small Agency Conference

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Terri & Sandy was named Small Agency of the Year at the last Small Agency Awards.
Terri & Sandy was named Small Agency of the Year at the last Small Agency Awards. Credit: Jon Morgan for Advertising Age

It's not easy to be in the ad agency business these days, and it's even tougher to be a small shop.

Client budgets are tightening, hiring is harder, new business is becoming scarcer and it's getting more difficult to get paid fairly for the work you do.

We hear you.

So this year's Small Agency Conference, in Marina Del Rey, California on July 17 and 18 is designed to help small agencies address all these issues and more. The two-day conference is designed for hands-on advice, peer-sharing and workshops, panels, and experts that can guide you through rocky times. Among the topics that will be discussed: How do you maintain your culture as you grow; how to design a succession plan; when is it time to sell; how does a small agency get noticed; best practices for new business; reshaping your rate card; tips for winning over big clients and more. You will walk away with at least three ideas for building and nuturing your agency.

We're also looking for some small agency chiefs to kick off the road to Small Agency by writing about their own experiences -- "What I know now that I wish I knew then" -- for our website. In addition, we will be highlighting more small agency work in our Creativity section on adage.com.

There will also be plenty of time for networking, creative inspiration and interactive sessions that will be both fun and educational. And it will all be capped with our ninth annual Small Agency Awards, which showcases the best work of the best small agencies. Read what winning has done for some of our winners here.

There's still time to enter for this year's awards. To make it easier, we are answering some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Why do you ask for financial information?

The Small Agency Awards are based not just on creativity, we are looking for agencies that are healthy. We realize it's not always possible to list finances, but at a minimum we require you give some indicator, such as quantifying how much your revenue rose even though the revenue number itself is not stated. It is important for the judges to be able to explain to the reader why an agency was chosen, so an indicator of financial health is necessary. Remember, even if your agency was down, if it is showing an upward trajectory from the earlier year -- or if there is an extraordinary circumstance, such as losing a big client the prior year but almost making up for it with new business afterward-- that is a sign of health.

What should I emphasize in my entry?

Judges look at the quality of the work, new business success and fresh creative ideas, but a truly winning entry also points to how the work buoyed sales or results for their clients.

How are the entries judged?

The jurors look for a well-balanced agency that is doing best-in-class work, providing smart solutions for clients, holding its own financially, driving business for clients, and that has a culture condusive to providing an equal, safe and welcoming workplace.

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