Fall planning season is upon us, and for the ad world, that means zeroing in on what kinds of investments are going to make the biggest impact next year. Whether that means putting dollars behind bringing in the brightest talent possible, embracing innovation, expanding (or refining) client offerings, bolstering creative prowess or giving back to the community, there’s a common theme for all agencies—that is, finding ways to do better and work smarter in 2020.
Here’s what some members of the Amp community plan to focus on during the coming year.
Joel Johnson, Co-Founder, Chief Strategist, Admirable Devil
We're investing in our community in 2020 by working pro bono to profile the work of some outstanding makers in the D.C.-Baltimore corridor. There are many creators out there that other agencies and brands could be tapping into. We want to help them get noticed, especially if they have a badass story to tell. And of course, we hope our community and prospects appreciate how we tell it.
Issa Sawabini, Partner, Fuse
In 2019 we expanded our community engagement programs with more volunteer programs, staff-directed donations and a more active role with youth in our community. We’ll continue to do more for the state (Vermont) and local community (Winooski) we love.
Carolyn Walker, CEO and Managing Partner, Response Marketing
We plan to continue to do our part to increase industry diversity and inclusion through our Marketing Explorers Program with Hill Regional Career High School here in New Haven. We also fear complacency when it comes to our agency culture and continue to prioritize making our agency a great place to work.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Kenny Nguyen, CEO and Co-Founder, ThreeSixtyEight
We believe the best agencies play a role in developing the leadership ability of not only its staff but also its clients and partners. And we aim to add more resources to help our stakeholders better lead through rapid change. This includes providing more diversity, change management, mindfulness and empathy training sessions that are accessible to all stakeholders so they might better succeed and make a difference in the organizations they serve. Tactically, this looks like facilitating conversations with respected thought leaders, sharing staff development programs among organizations and equipping our external and internal leaders with key mentors who can help them grow.
Christian Jacobsen, Partner, The Many
We believe that focusing on building our own brand and agency processes will only further the success we have with clients, allowing us to continue strengthening our foundation for growth amid the sea change. We’ll continue to invest back into the business, primarily to remain ahead of the looming economic instability. A large focus will be on developing a more robust training program for our team. This will help our staff be more effective and efficient. We are also mindful that disciplined consultancies are now significant players, and that is a huge challenge for all of us in advertising to improve.
John Limotte, CEO and Executive Creative Director, Mustache (part of Cognizant Interactive)
A priority focus for Mustache is continuing to work on being the best possible partners to our clients. Having a diverse mix of talented individuals has been what’s propelled our growth here at Mustache since we began in 2010. We’re always on the lookout for people who can come in and challenge the way we do things through their unique skills. Bringing on people who are excelling in their respective industries and having them channel their talent into content creation is one of the ways we set ourselves apart.
Cristina Calvet-Harrold, Founder and President, CCH Marketing
In our Orlando headquarters we are focusing on bringing in staff with more experience and training so they can take over more of the day-to-day operation of the business and allow me to spend more time on business development. We are also in the beginning stages of opening an office in the Midwest.
Gina Michnowicz, CEO and ECD, The Craftsman Agency
Having a strong culture where people are continuously growing and honing their craft is of the greatest importance to us. We will be doing this in a variety of ways next year. One example is adding an employee stock purchase plan that gives people the opportunity to have ownership and subsequent shares in the profits of the agency. We're also adding more training for our team and investing in technology capabilities to advance our services in the market to stay on top of trends.
Erin Lentz, Executive Director of Design, ArtVersion
We're rapidly investing in team expansion to accommodate the demand for design consultancy. At the same time, we secured an extension of our headquarters, with quiet and huddle rooms, additional conference room spaces, and open floor collaborative space. Our Chicago experience lab is doubling up as well, to allow for all of the UX and UI work that takes place in various forefronts.
Eric Fowles, CEO and Founder, Voltage
I’m investing in talent, specifically in creative and producer roles. We are calling them business leads—experienced account people who can offer top-level strategic thinking along with driving new business and client growth. We are also investing in saying no and not jumping at everything that comes our way. Sometimes you need that extra bump in revenue, and it takes discipline to say no in hopes of a higher return or better clients coming in the future.
TECHNOLOGY AND TOOLS
Chris Neff, Senior Director of Innovation, The Community
We have been developing a new division at the cross section of creative technology and innovation called The Garage. From an investment standpoint, it is important to fuel invention and new practices, as it increases our versatility. Earlier this year, we launched Bridge Forecast, which uses machine learning to predict bridge traffic in Miami to aid commuters. This division sits at the intersection of science and creativity, where ideas need to be grounded in real practices and proper methods, but narrative storytelling and craft remain essential.
Steve Parker Jr., CEO and Co-Founder, Levelwing
In 2020, we will invest in technology, solutions and processes that allow us to work faster and with tight quality controls. The faster the industry is adopting new media and content formats, the more it requires a focus on speed and quality simultaneously. This is especially critical when it comes to key events we are activating in 2020 for clients, none bigger than the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where timeliness, speed and quality are all tantamount to success.
Jason Mitchell, CEO, Movement Strategy
Heading into 2020, we are investing into expanding our data and science team and capabilities. This team uses a stack of research and social listening tools to gain insights into consumer behaviors across social networks. We've found that our teams’ ability to turn this data into insights that become actionable tactics and informed creative has been incredibly valuable.
Marcelo Eduardo, Founding Partner, Technology, Work & Co.
A continued focus is investing in our technology team. Strengthening our talent base in areas like back-end development and dev ops, and then pairing those skills with our existing teams—in front-end development, quality assurance, design, strategy and product management—allow us to ensure consistency and create the best end-to-end experience for users.
Josh Rosenberg, Co-Founder and CEO, Day One Agency
We are investing in creative throughout our organization so we can better generate ideas and campaigns that break through the screen and earn a reaction.
J. Patrick McElroy, Executive Producer, Sweetshop
Sweetshop recently launched a new enterprise, called Sweetshop & Green, which concentrates on developing feature films, documentaries and TV series. The company has a big focus on changing people’s perspectives, while also increasing the cultural diversity of stories in our filmmaking and offering our directors broader opportunities. I think of the market as an ecosystem that no longer functions unilaterally and is strengthened when our creatives are problem-solving, expressing themselves and learning from a range of projects.
David Coomer, Chief Creative Officer, Cornett
We’re making significant investments in how creativity is distributed. We have two primary targets, one being each respective client’s consumers, and the other being the algorithms in which the work is published. We’re creating more episodic content for continuous engagement and ideas and experiences that move seamlessly through culture. While we’ve always had a multi-disciplinary approach to creating big ideas for our partners, we see the value in reverse-engineering the algorithms ultimately responsible for how ideas move through culture.
MARKETING, SALES AND STRATEGY
Shai Reichert, Co-Founder, Technology & Operations, The Experience Design Studio
As a growing company with two offices and a staff that has quadrupled over the past year, we are heavily bolstering our content marketing efforts with a frequent LinkedIn presence, blogging, additional case studies on our website, and awards submissions for our recent digital marketing, clinical trial and intranet work. With a focus on healthcare, we’re examining how we can further enhance our expertise with investment in certifications and training across compliance, partnerships and systems.
Andy Berkenfield, CEO, Duncan Channon
Duncan Channon is doubling down on our vision to help clients achieve their business goals in an increasingly complex and fragmented world of integrated marketing. Earlier this year, we acquired pioneering experiential, influencer and social marketing agency A2G to deliver on this vision. We recently hired our first chief integration officer to accelerate collaboration among our strategy, media and expanded creative team. In the coming year, we’ll continue to invest in integrating our diverse capabilities to ensure that everything we do advances a singular creative vision that helps our clients grow.
Lillian Brown, Head of Strategy, Current Forward
For Current Forward, 2020 will be all about creating experiences for our clients and developing the strategy-adjacent community in Austin, Texas. We're investing in new ways to deliver our work, how we show up day-to-day as partners, and unique products and services that truly meet our clients' evolving needs. Industry fragmentation and a focus on speed are negatively affecting the well-being of our peers, so we're investing in events that help foster community and provide a much-needed outlet for regenerative inspiration.