The Right People in the Right Positions Make a High-Performance Agency
Without people, an ad agency is no more than a stack of business cards, a computer or two, a conference table and chairs and maybe some awards. Fundamentally, an ad agency is a group of people who work together to come up with creative ideas to change the behavior of a target audience in order to achieve a marketing goal for their client. People… strategic, talented, skilled, business-savvy people make an advertising agency work. It is mission critical that the strategic minds work well with the creative minds, and both of those minds work well with the skilled account service minds to make an effective, successful agency.
Every Agency Needs a Lean, Mean Advertising Team
How an agency performs as a business is determined by how well its people work together. In order for an agency to be successful, you need to build a team that functions well together in all conditions: good times, bad times, calm and turbulent times. You need a team that can meet all of your clients’ needs, make it look easy and deliver without error. Today’s agencies need to be on their toes every day because the competition is relentlessly hot on their heels. One slip and the agency could jeopardize a client relationship and boom, just like that, clients are off shopping around for a new agency partner.
Building & Maintaining the High-Performance Agency Engine
Allow me to digress to my appreciation of nice automobiles and their high-performance engines, but this agency performance analogy really works for me. Picture this, an agency is like a custom engine in a nice muscle car. Different employees, each with strong industry talents and skill sets, are the separate engine parts that come together and are bolted together to make the engine whole. They each have an important job to do that contributes to how well the engine runs. Teamwork is the motor oil that lubricates the engine parts and keeps everything running smoothly, especially when business demands get hot. It’s every agency’s challenge to be very selective and to hire the right people for every position on their team, making sure all the parts fit and work well together. The client’s work is the gasoline that the engine burns, which creates the horsepower that goes to the wheels where the rubber meets the road. And just like any automobile, occasionally the agency needs to be maintained or repaired. Using quality people or “parts” keeps the engine running at its peak performance.
Hiring Decisions Can Make (or Break) an Agency
Having grown an agency from a single shingle to a staff of 28 employees over 35 years, I’ve learned many valuable lessons from making good and bad hiring decisions along the way. I came to a realization many years ago of the importance of hiring the right people for every aspect of the company. When hiring, be thorough and methodical. Decide exactly what characteristics and background experience you want for the position you have open. Write a complete description of the work responsibilities and personal qualities you are looking for and include them in your job listing, and use them as well for your discussions in interviews. Post the job listing on your website as well as other employment websites where job seekers go to find jobs. Take your time to carefully review and qualify all candidates’ credentials, and be selective before investing time for phone and in-person interviews. Schedule interviews and allow your managers and directors to participate in the interview conversations. Having their opinions and viewpoints on candidates is important in determining which candidate fits in with your team and gets the job offer.
Hiring Words of Wisdom
A wise advertising philosopher once said, “Surround yourself with intelligent, talented people, even if they are more intelligent and talented than you are and success will follow.” I believe the better your people are, the better the agency is. Hiring really good people for every position in the agency is how an agency becomes more effective for their clients and, as a result, becomes a more successful business. It also provides an environment that the other employees appreciate because they learn and experience professional growth from working closely with other seasoned professionals. Additional words of wisdom are: “Don’t hire smart, talented people and then tell them what to do. Set expectations with your employees and give them the freedom to expand on their talents and continue their professional growth within their respective positions. This will bring great satisfaction and longevity to your working relationships.”