The Mirren Live New York conference, which took place earlier this month, offered a great mix of strategic, theoretical content as well as really actionable items that audience members could take back to their companies and put into effect. Below, you’ll find five key takeaways that I found to be most valuable from the conference.
- Agencies guided by their philosophies and values are being rewarded with success. No matter the approach to business, companies that let their values guide their decisions are making good choices. By having clear, defined values, there is no question as to what type of employee to hire and what type of client fits them well. The employees from 360i, Huge Inc., and Anomaly were all able to easily articulate and clearly define who each of their agencies were. But above just being able to articulate it, the really important takeaway here is that your company also needs to live and breathe its established values. As an example, Anomaly spoke of turning away a business opportunity because the client wasn’t comfortable with the compensation model it uses. It’s apparent that the agencies that stick to their clearly defined philosophy and values are the ones that are seeing the largest growth in the industry.
- Management consulting firms may be a silent killer: Don’t ignore them. There was a ton of debate over the role of management consultants in the marketing industry. While many industry publications have been calling it a trend (AdAge reported four consultancies rank among the world's largest agency companies), some agencies countered the debates, saying the trend is exaggerated and that this whole thing doesn’t appear to be a significant problem. But if you fall into this line of thinking, you may want to reconsider. While you might not see your agency coming up against them in pitches, you also don’t see that these firms are already connected with the executives within the companies you’re pitching. So they don’t have to show up; they’re already speaking directly to the c-suite members, bypassing the pitch altogether.
- Agencies founded in the last 15 years are dominating the conversations. At a conference designed for all types of agencies, it was surprising to see many of the panels were made up of thought leaders from relatively new agencies. People tend to assume newer agencies are focused on digital-only, but that’s not the case. Take Work & Co. and Huge Inc. for example: These two agencies were “born digital,” but their scope of work and client roster now expands to all realms of marketing.
- Agencies need to bring better, impactful insights to their clients. Let’s be honest: We all love coming into new business presentations and sharing research. But what many agencies are missing is the ability to tie it back to the potential client’s business goals and explain what the research or statistical really means to them. Too often it’s left too broad and not client-specific enough. We need to start presenting more concise and valuable insights to really make an impact.
The fifth and final takeaway here was a bit of a twist considering the conference focused on business development and agency growth. However, the most impactful and memorable talk focused on giving away your time and money. Without further ado...
- Don’t forget to leverage your access and skills to make an impact on the world around you. Scott Harrison, founder of charity: water, captivated the entire audience with his story of how he came to start his own charity. (See his story here if you haven’t heard it!) Often, we in the agency world can forget how many tools we have at our disposal and our ability to do such amazing things. Harrison reminded us that we can and should leverage our connections, skillsets, and drive to bring positive influence to the world outside of our daily lives and business. And sure, we all get (or are constantly) busy. But it doesn’t have to take much; you can donate your birthday and request that friends donate to a cause close to your heart (Facebook even offers this feature now) or it could be an act as simple as volunteering to help a charity one-time or on a routine basis. LaneTerralever’s User Experience Architect Todd Bromley recently used his agency connections to help a small, local startup coffee cart that aims to use its funds to help finance music education programs. Many agencies do a great job of helping their communities, but sometimes we just need a big of a nudge to put everything into perspective.