Last month, we held our annual off-site leadership team meeting. Ten of us ventured to New Orleans to recap our successes and work through a session to make our agency the best mid-sized agency ever.
As our team debated, ideated, and created a pathway for the next year, I reflected on what this meant for our business. We have created a team of people who really care about the success of our agency through the success of our clients. When reading case studies from other brands, discussing leadership tactics with high level executives from other shops and talking with some of our clients, I know we are ahead of the curve. Here’s why:
Oftentimes, agencies put their client case studies front and center. It makes sense—prospective clients want to know what winning looks like for other brands. However, it’s not the best approach—that’s because it doesn’t showcase your why. Instead, it focuses on the final product. In our opinion, the why should be front and center on your Website. And for us, that means letting the world know what’s at the center of our core.
At No Limit Agency, our core values are Culture of Respect, Give a Shit and Anything is Possible. The center of our organizational chart is our client. Everything we do and need to do as an agency revolves around our client.
How? With a focus on four key areas: Relationship, Strategy, Service and Results. We are focused on being one inch better in each of these categories, as we believe these are the four most important things to a client. Whether that’s using a grading system and hosting strategy meetings or booking a large national media placement mixed with a consistency of local features, we want to win in each of those categories.
Another realization that came out of our leadership retreat was that we can’t be a marketing, PR, social, advertising or digital agency. Those are the widgets and they’re important for the brands, but they’re not the central focus. The main focus needs to be on service. We need to make sure our agency out-services everyone. We don’t care if that means lower short-term profit margins. We have a vision to be the best. If you start with excellence in service, your widget is bound to win.
Clients understand the end result, but not everything that goes into the process. For this, we have made a mistake. We need to create more transparency around how we do this. For instance, the investment of time and energy into a November off-site followed by a leadership summit and an all agency summit in December probably doesn’t get the client the visibility it deserves. At the agency summit, we brainstorm big ideas for our clients—not just ones that fit into a tiny box of the widget we serve for them. Instead, we focus on big ideas that may move the needle for their brand that the widget (say PR) can support. These big idea brainstorms are a value add (some agencies only do this for their clients). We feel that we need to constantly improve our service, our process, our operations and our ideas to stay ahead of the crowded agency world.
People continue to be the biggest challenge and biggest asset for our business. When looking back at the size of our leadership team three years ago, we had three. Now we have ten. We have ten leaders who are committed to the core values of our clients and the success of their brands. That’s a big deal. People are also the toughest to recruit. Our way of doing things is not like a typical PR agency. We are focused on challenging the norms and delivering better results, thus, our box doesn’t always align with the talent we recruit. We constantly discuss ways to hire outside the box.
At the end of the day, a brand retains us for the movement we can produce for their brand. If we don’t push ourselves, as an agency and as leaders, to constantly improve the product we deliver back, they will look elsewhere. There is always another agency willing to take care of our clients if we don’t. We desire long-term relationships, not burn and turn moments. To accomplish this, we have to evaluate the potential of the relationship up front and make sure we are a match culturally. Then, we have to get to work delivering the best experience possible.
Through eight years, I think we have made a lot of progress toward becoming the best mid-sized agency ever.