The secrets of a successful consultancy

Even with the advancement of new technology like tablets, cloud storage and smart phones becoming standard, we humans still have a lot of emotional stuff to deal with in our professional lives which can impact on the success of an agency.

Rod Petrie

If you want a successful agency and to be brilliant at what you do a number of basic characteristics shine through time and time again.

The five characteristics:

1. Your offer

Make sure that your agency has a clearly defined offer with differentiated products. Be very clear about what you stand for so you can stand out and become the agency of choice for clients.

Know your market, style and value. You are in business because of your outstanding creativity and the commercial success of your work. It is all about profitable ideas that create profit.

2. Create value for clients

Cut through the issues and focus on priorities that deliver value over the short, medium and long term for your clients. Develop business relationships with client companies up and above the individual personal relationship.

You need to have professionalism and integrity with you at all times. Trust might not be the reason why a client might appoint you but you can bet it will be the reason why they take the business somewhere else.

3. People first

At the very heart of any agency is it’s people practices and the commitment to invest in skills and training of its most valuable asset – it’s people. Investing in people sends out a global message of the consistent desire to improve quality, productivity and profitability. Employ the best, surround yourself with the best, and employ your successor.

Everyone involved needs to be adding value and to be fully integrated from briefing through to the end result if a high quality, consistent product is to be achieved. Armstrong didn’t get to moon by himself!

It is all about managing creative and logic in equal proportion.

4. Educate

Clients may have an intuitive understanding of what you do but they don’t always understand the complexity involved. Don’t be afraid to take them through your process so they can understand what it takes to produce great and profitable work. Learn the power of saying Yes, so when you say No your clients get it in one. Make sure your own organisational structures and procedures help to fuel great ideas and not kill them off at birth.

5. Leadership

Without great leadership and management you are sunk. The key is to have a brilliant creative visionary on board who has more than a financial stake in the business and like a world-class football manager knows how to spot and more importantly manage seriously talented people. A key leadership attribute is the ability to spot and develop talent at all levels. Leaders know that to stay at the top they have three choices: employ winners from outside, which can be costly; find future winners from within and turn them into winners, which takes time, or do nothing and watch the agency go bust.

The five fears:

1. Trust.

This is all about integrity. Without trust there are no relationships, nothing develops, nothing grows. When trust evaporates it can be a lonely place regardless of the scale of the agency or your position.

2. Control

Are you in control or losing control. Do you know what you’re doing and what is expected of you? Are you the leader of the business or is the business running you? Do you have the appropriate controls and checks and measurements in place?

3. Consistency

This is about commitment and covers everything that you and the agency do.

A good example is that of the new recruit that blew you all away at the interview, starts well and then their performance drops off or the creative output starts to lose it’s magic. What goes through your mind?

4. Time

This is all about resource and equates to money. Until you know how to manage your time you will find it hard to manage anything else and you’ll find yourself in a time vice. Seek out the time bandits, whether it is the low value meetings through to too much time on activities others should be doing. Beware of the procrastinators.

5. Quality

This is all about standards and one of the key business goals if you want to be successful. Have you adopted a ‘best practice’ policy for every aspect of your business process up and above the creative product and hiring the best people? If not why not? Are you producing sloppy second hand thinking? Are you setting the standards or following in the footsteps of others?

I would recommend that you make a conscious effort to observe the significance of the above characteristics over the coming months to see if they are important enough to create leverage and make a difference.

Finally successful agencies like successful people reach the top because they know that they have to practice, over and over until it works.

Rod Petrie is a one-to-one coach for professionals.

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