If success in the advertising industry doesn’t begin and end with flawlessly executed ad campaigns (and the results to back them up), then what does it hinge on? Upon walking into an agency, you might think you need an open plan office with sleek interior design. Or perhaps the agency-wide happy hour on Friday is the key to success. Maybe it all depends on the number of outstanding people you have working for you.
You’re getting closer. In my experience, building a successful, sustainable agency starts with the culture. You might be thinking, “Seriously, the weekly food trucks and the team outings﹘ that’s what’s gonna do it?” That’s not the side of corporate culture I’m talking about. I’m talking the way you treat every single human that works for, with, or alongside you.
For your agency to succeed it needs a positive culture built on empathy. I promise you this is more important than landing huge accounts or having the latest tech. Because when it comes down to it, the most valuable and irreplaceable resource you can have is good talent. And without a positive culture good talent won’t stay on board long.
Over the last two decades, I’ve built two successful agencies on the foundations of respect, empathy, friendships, and giving back. These companies have grossed over $500 million in combined revenue, but there’s something you don’t know about the man in charge﹘ I have no hand on the great work that we do.
This is further proof that the secret to success isn’t solely dependent on outcomes. In many agencies around the world people are working hard to produce great work but feeling less fulfilled and appreciated than ever. Their discontent drives them to other agencies where this unfortunate cycle starts all over again. Turnover rates cause agencies to suffer. How can teams produce consistently great work with talent cycling out so often?
These agencies might claim to have great company culture, and, on the surface, it might seem like the truth. But without a truly human foundation, company-wide holiday gifts don’t do anyone a bit of good. Your people are the ones who collaborate and create truly show-stopping campaigns. Your number one priority as the leader of an agency should be making your staff happy.
The same goes for your clients. Of course, agencies want to make sure they keep clients happy in order to continue partnerships. But if you treat both your employees and your clients in a way that leaves everyone feeling heard, respected, and appreciated, you’ll reap what you sow.
Happy employees work harder and produce better campaigns. They might even give you a great review on Glassdoor. Happy clients continue to do business with you and also spread the word to others. As your reputation grows, talent and new business come to you. It truly is that simple.