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. However creative you are, 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.
Overlaid on that simple fact is the modern landscape within which your work thrives. There’s more collaboration, new tools, the democratization of expertise, millions of possible clients, thousands of competitors, and hundreds of voices in your head claiming to have the secret.
How do you make sense of all this? What principles are still true and which have thankfully been rewritten in a new world?
How about taking one day out of your hectic schedule to sit and reflect, learning from a gentle expert within the context of 24 smart principals who will be honest with you about their own journey.
Let’s start with the purpose and why for what you do. How do we balance the competing interests of making money, having impact, and loving what you do. Given the importance of culture, what’s important to you and how will you orchestrate a place to work where you want to go every day?
We’re all in this to earn money, but there are ways to actually create wealth and even beyond that to change your family tree. Getting from here to there requires understanding your business and the different levers that you can pull to change the results. We’ll help you construct a simple dashboard to achieve this.
We really need to talk about growth, too. Growth seems to be the holy grail that few people understand, both the how and why of growth. What can you ignore while you grow? How do you break bad habits formed while chasing growth when you settle down to make money again? (Attend the session tomorrow if you want to talk about succession options.) 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? You’ll have far more interesting conversations at the bar after this section.
Whether you’re adding people or not, shaping your own role is difficult but critical. What should you be doing? What should you not be doing? How does that change with a partner? Completely master this question to find a comfortable place for yourself.
Closely related to that is what the supporting cast will look like. What positions should be on-site and/or full-time? How do you manage the dance between account service and project management? Most importantly, how do you influence a culture where team members are lining up waiting to work for you when a slot opens up?
Beneath all this planning is a critical decision that we cannot escape, and that’s how to position your firm so that it’s less interchangeable in the marketplace. So that you can maintain a price premium and direct the client relationship (instead of the inmates clients running the asylum). From there we’ll talk about a few effective lead generation ideas for our new age.
Finally, the future is coming so quickly that we’d better start planning it now since it’ll be here sooner than the last future was. I hope you can join us in the scenic DUMBO district of Brooklyn on Monday, May 8. We’ve priced it so that most anyone can come.
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David C. Baker is the principal of ReCourses, a frequent contributor to nearly every marketing publication, and a speaker at nearly every marketing conference (and several TEDx events). His work has appeared in the WSJ, USA Today, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, and BusinessWeek. He is the author of five books and has advised nearly 1,000 marketing firms in the last 23+ years.