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The New Agency Species


Recently I attended a seminar in Florida called “The New Agency Species.” The program was presented by the Second Wind Network, which represents small- to medium-size advertising agencies across the country. The seminar was very well attended by agencies from more than 30 different states and Canada. We discussed what agencies should be focused on these days to fully serve our clients as well as new business strategies. Here are a few things I took away from the seminar and plan to fully implement within our agency.


1) It’s all about culture.

Building a creative workspace that allows people to create is essential. In our agency, we have an arcade game, dartboards, Nerf guns and a whole lot of food. That’s right food. There is no better way to reward a job well done than stuffing bellies. Even our meeting space is creative, utilizing couches and comfy chairs rather than the traditional conference table. All of these things that build a culture in an agency will foster more creative thinking and better work for our clients.

2) More than creative.

Agencies today have taken on a new role. Yes, we are still tasked with the creative process and storytelling is still our main goal. It is our job to deliver good ideas that propel our clients ahead of their competitors. These days, clients need more. We no longer just have Photoshop and InDesign in our software portfolio. Now strange new mathematic software programs have infiltrated our wonderous Macintoshs. Clients want analyzation of campaigns, proof of return on their investment, tracking and evidence that your ideas are working for them. These are all things that we here have embraced and provide our clients daily. As a veteran creative, the thought of seeing Excel pop up on my desktop is troubling, however this is the new agency species after all.

Nerf guns have been a welcome addition to ABC's creative workspace.
Nerf guns have been a welcome addition to ABC’s creative workspace.

3) Lots and lots of new media.

I have written about this several times. Often I pine away for the good old days of print, TV, radio and maybe a smattering of outdoor. Nowadays those items are often afterthoughts. With social, bloggers and the hundreds of other channels out there to communicate, we have to be able to deliver the right message at the right time to the right person – and we can. Niche marketing or “long-tailed marketing” strategies have to be the norm today. The story is still king, but now you have a million ways to tell it.

4) Above all else, core values.

As a part of the new agency species, we must develop our core creative values and stick with them. These values are held up throughout every process within the agency. Whether it be hiring, firing or even firing a longtime client, it must be done. Time after time I heard stories from other agency owners about how they had to fire one of their biggest clients because they did not meet up to their core values. If we are dedicated to creating the best concepts and ideas we can and the client does not let us do that, then maybe that client isn’t right for us.

I truly believe by implementing and sticking to these items that ABC will continue to grow as a creative agency that attracts hard-working people that want to deliver creative solutions to our clients and prove results.

Stay Creative.

About The Author

Travis arrived at ABC back in 1995, when photography was his main creative outlet. That passion evolved over the next decade as Travis began thinking beyond imagery and pitching his broader ideas and strategies to clients. It was the birth of the idea-based marketing philosophy: Getting to know the client inside out, learning about the successes and failures, then spinning that into an idea that could build a better outcome. That’s the cornerstone he’s built his creative-first agency on since buying the place in 2005. ABC has grown exponentially since then both in terms of people and clients. Local, regional, national, banking, destinations, nonprofits: Travis has greatly expanded services over the years to accommodate them all. He’s also assembled a talented team. Just like them, he’s greeted each morning by a simple reminder etched on the wall: “Create Cool Sh!t Today!” He’s proud to run the kind of agency that does.