A core belief that informs my advisory work with independent, expert marketing firms is this: firms fail or thrive based almost entirely on the quality of their business decisions. Being creative and cool is of great value, but unless your business is run on sound principles you're not going to be around long, and your actual and potential clients won't benefit from your expertise.
I ran my own firm for six years and struggled with finding and implementing those fundamentals. In fact my entry to the consulting world came when Cam Foote of Creative Business asked me to author various articles related to understanding the financial elements of running an agency. I then adapted a few ideas from the late George Johnson of The Yellow Sheet and the late Tony Mikes of Second Wind Network, but most of it came from researching the business standards in other verticals within the professional services sectors (architects, lawyers, engineers, etc.) A highlight of my career came when David Maister, the leading consultant to the legal profession, asked if he could include my work in his last book.
The next step was researching actual results from hundreds of agencies and building it into a system. After codifying that, I then licensed the IP to leading software providers, and then wrote a bestselling book called "Financial Management of a Marketing Firm," released by RockBench Publishing Corp.
This unique seminar takes this further with additional research and the advanced element of prioritizing what you should watch and how to close the performance gaps. This is one of those boring topics...unless it's your money or your job! And in that case you'll finally find authoritative information about the business side of creativity.
After leading with this benchmarking data and a clear explanation of how to apply it to your situation, we'll also cover some important aspects of agency management.
We'll examine how to manage and fund growth. How much growth is safe? What are the signs that growth is out of control? How do you tame it? How do you prioritize growth decisions? Where does the money come from? How far out should the troops be from the supply lines?
We'll look at employee compensation, benefits, and incentives. Without critical guidance from you folks, managers lack the guidelines that help them make smart decisions in the short-term that won't cripple the firm in the long-term.
We'll evaluate the best software solutions to run your firm, from accounting to project management to timekeeping.
And finally, we'll focus on the processes that every firm can adapt to preserve their commitment to quality, profit, scalability, and a favorable client experience.
This has typically been our most attended seminar, and I'm looking forward to offering it in revised form after a four year hiatus while the research was updated. It also coincides with our recent switch to a "public benefit corporation" with a significant commitment to education and teaching.