Small Agencies

The Secret Sauce for Staying Small-Minded

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It's a fact of life: Small things have a tendency to grow. And when an independent agency succeeds, growth is often a byproduct—if not the goal.

In a recent column in Advertising Age, Ray Valcich, group director of business development at Crossmedia, offered some strategies to help small agencies handle growth without losing the culture that defines them and makes them stand out.

  1. Don't assume that everyone is jazzed. "For some of the folks in the trenches, success simply translates to more work," he said. "Others may feel they joined a small agency for certain reasons and fear that growth will change things for the worse." The key here, he said, is to make sure everyone feels included.
  2. Be selective—you're only as good as the company you keep. Those clients that don't exactly fit with your agency? As you grow, Valcich said, you can be more selective. "Spend some time talking to your people to find out who their dream clients are and go after them."
  3. Invest in game changers. Are you missing key pieces of your executive team? Now is the time to fill in those gaps—but, he cautioned, take your time to find the right fit.
  4. Take advice, keep growing. Because you're not the first small agency experiencing a growth spurt, learn from others who have done this before you.
  5. Always be looking for talent. Talent is key, Valcich said, so when you find the perfect person, "hire them even if you don't have an immediate slot open … figure out where to put them later."

Finally, Valcich said, make sure to celebrate your accomplishments—and your culture. "Carving out time to celebrate the culture that defines you reinforces why folks continue to work and thrive," he said. "Whatever your secret sauce may be, it's vital to find ways to make your staff say, 'I can't imagine working anywhere else.' "

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