November 14, 2011

3 Things Every Agency Owner Should Know

Filed under: Client/Agency Relations,Leadership — Joe Grant @ 2:03 pm

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1. Delegate Everything But Genius
We’ve counseled a lot of really bright creative folks over the years who’ve built their own jails and locked themselves inside. They wanted an outlet for their creativity so they started their own companies…and quickly got caught in the quicksand of “management.”

You know what that is – refereeing personality conflicts, motivating recalcitrant associates, approving supply purchases, making sure the conference room is cleaned up. . . Help!

Managing the little stuff is not what makes you successful. It’s capitalizing on your unique talents which nobody else has or can do the way you do. Anything else which distracts, upsets, perturbs, or otherwise beats you down to the point that you can’t do what you’re best at – and what you enjoy most – must be delegated or deleted. Hire it out or give it to somebody else to worry about. But don’t waste your most precious resource: you.

Your special talents are all you have to make your little enterprise work. It’s soul-splitting to create profound strategic ideas one moment and the next order paper clips. If you can’t delegate everything but what you master like no one else, get a therapist to help you understand why. Or else you’ll be welding the bars shut on your own cell.

2. It’s Not About You
Entrepreneurs can get so pumped up by contemporary can-do literature that they actually begin to believe they’re “partners” with their clients. They’ll say, “But we’re different than others – we’re true partners.”

Whoa! At the very best you’ll work determinedly to become a trusted resource, but becoming a true partner – with skin in the game, skin that bleeds? Not likely.

Think about it: a partnership is a business relationship in which you furnish part of the capital and labor for a money-making enterprise then share in subsequent profits or losses. Do you do that? No, your company merely provides a service and thinking you have a commensurate relationship with a client is a self-flattering delusion.

If you get over thinking you’re indispensable or equal it will be a lot easier doing what you’re really good at.

Truth is, it’s not about you and never has been. No matter how insightful or groundbreaking you think your contributions are, they’re merely a small part of your client’s galaxy of issues and opportunities. That’s why they don’t call you back when you wish they would – they have bigger (to them) elephants to shoot.

3. Know If Your Clients Are Happy
Market research is imperative because it’s so dangerous to “presume” what the market thinks of our products and services.

Yet in a client-centered business where relationships are based on so much more than just occasional purchases, we’re convinced we know how we’re doing.

Really? Then why do Adweek and AdAge have weekly cover stories about account firings where agency honchos misread the smoke signals and in their hubris believed their client relationships were impregnable?

Don’t rely on the account team to tell you how great things are; after all, their opinions are likely a conflict of interest. Instead consider having your relationships audited by a disinterested 3rd party because people, especially in close business relationships, aren’t comfortable telling you directly what you need to know.

They’ll complain about you to others, they’ll talk behind your back, but they won’t tell you face to face. It’s human nature – many of us can’t stand conflict. An objective survey will yield factual evidence of what needs to be improved – by both parties.

Many agencies use our Client Satisfaction Survey to improve client retention and reignite account profitability. To find out more, call or e-mail. Or read the Client Retention section on our website. As one client said, “I’m impressed the agency is actually auditing itself – it proves they’re committed to my business.”
(The above is from 15 Things Every Agency Owner Should Know. The article is available in its entirety on our home page.)

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