The 5 Key Steps To Maintaining A Great Agency Culture
The last 12 months has completely decimated the live event agency environment as all of us the event industry struggle to negotiate the new landscape that’s been forced upon us by COVID-19.
Many agency owners are looking to transition skills, reposition their businesses, re-structure and batten down the financial hatches in anticipation of the lifting of restrictions and some kind of a return of the industry that we all know and love.
One thing is certain though – the industry will never be the same again.
Whilst all this turmoil continues, it’s remarkably easy for agency leaders to lose sight of the things that made their businesses successful in the first place. In my experience a successful agency is built around a great culture and common purpose. Get that right and pretty much everything else becomes a whole lot easier.
The challenge at the moment is that teams are not getting together regularly, if at all and we all know that zoom and the like, useful as they are, cannot replace the value of a great team meeting, brainstorming session or an informal chat in the kitchen between friends.
Forward looking leaders don’t let the current challenging situation impact on their agency culture. In fact, they use it to emphasise and build their internal values and the general vibe in their teams.
Why is this important?
The landscape in which you operate may be changing but the personality, USP and values of your agency haven’t. Your people are the conduit through which the agency energy, commitment and general vibe flows to clients. Continue to get that right and clients will notice.
Maintaining a great culture will help you retain key staff through challenging times as well as making your agency attractive to new talent when things improve. And it will improve.
A great culture ensures commitment and emotional buy-in with your team. No doubt your people are being asked to transition skills, work long hours in pressured environments and often operate in isolation. Showing your appreciation will go a long way.
The current situation is incredibly unsettling for a lot of people. There’s uncertainty, isolation and many people are worried about their mid to long term prospects – will they have a job in three months’ time for example. Some consideration of and commitment to the mental health of your people will go a long way. It’s also the right thing to do!
The current market situation is in fact a great leveller – think of it as the safety car in F1 – everyone lines up close together ready for the race to start again. Any advances your agency can make while the market is depressed will reap incremental rewards as the race restarts and the pack spreads out again.
So what are your next steps?
Find out how your people feel about how your culture has been impacted over the last 12 months or so – perhaps perform a culture audit. Your goal is to discover what your people value most, support that and guide it in a way that is aligned with your longer-term business objectives
If the engine of your culture bus is already running, congratulations you’re one step closer to creating an extraordinary workplace.
Three Little Words That Mean Everything
Why you should never say, “I need more clients.”
That isn’t a goal, and you can’t build a plan to achieve it.
What you should think about is, “how can I make more money from my existing clients?”
Build strong relationships with your clients and they will keep on buying from you.
If you understand their value to your business over a 2–3-year period
And you understand your sales process and conversion rate
Then planning and budgeting for lead generation to find new clients becomes easy
The Three Little Words that mean everything in Marketing?
Lifetime Customer Value.
Why All Event Agencies Are Not Equal Anymore!
Peter Jackson gives his insight on what the future holds for the event buyer post Covid.
If you’re thinking about engaging with an event agency or issuing a brief, RFI or RFP, you need to read this before going any further.
The Pandemic has changed everything.
Over recent Covid-19-affected months the UK and Ireland agency and supplier landscape has changed significantly and navigating the new ‘normal’ can present a potential minefield for unwary brands, clients and event IP owners.
As an event industry professional, I ran my own highly successful agency, Clive, for over fifteen years. I now help clients avoid the potential minefield that event planning will be in the future.
Skills & Capabilities – Almost all agencies have endured tremendous challenges just to stay afloat throughout the various lockdowns and restrictions of the last 12-months. Skillsets have been eroded, core capabilities undermined, brand values and culture have been put on the back burner. Lastly financial probity of many agencies has been massively adversely affected. Couple all this with the headlong race towards virtual connections in a new market where almost all agencies present some kind of digital offering or capability and inevitably some will clearly be more capable than others.
Brand Fit – Even if we weren’t enduring these current challenges as an industry, I would still be encouraging brands to engage wisely and cautiously with their supply chain. With Clive we had an agency with a personality, offering and unique set of capabilities that resonated with particular market sectors and industries. Clearly, we were never going to be the right agency for everyone, nor did we want to be. But the clients with whom we built that special connection and who understood our personality as a business, received in return a level of service, creativity, commitment and ultimately results that was second to none.
Pricing Structure – In my experience agencies adopt vastly different pricing structures when it comes to charging for their work. Some charge a percentage mark up, some charge a flat fee, some charge for time, some charge a retainer and some try to do all four! Knowing when you’re getting value for money from your agency and having a transparent relationship as far as budget is concerned is vitally important. Access to specialist insight, experience and knowledge of the tricks of the agency trade you will ensure you’re achieving maximum ROI from your partners.
So, with these three points in mind, now more than ever wise brand and event IP owners should be interrogating their supply chain intelligently and diligently in order to make sure that they engage with the agency or supplier that is right for them and will deliver effectively on their objectives. Sounds easy doesn’t it?
But without a knowledgeable and experienced friend on your side, it’s easy to unwittingly step roundly in the proverbial s##t.
Stop asking, “How Do I Get More Leads?”
It is The Wrong Question.
The Right Question is, why should your customer choose you over the competition?
What makes you so different?
What makes you the Expert?
What’s your Story?
Getting leads is not that difficult but converting leads to customers is impossible if you don’t have credibility.
They have to believe your proposition.
Don’t become obsessed with generating leads before you have asked the right question –
Why You Need A Laser Focus On Your Target Market
You can’t be all things to all people, but you can go out of business trying to be.
“I should be spending more on trying to reach a wider audience, right?”
Wrong. Spend less but target better.
If you were selling cars, you wouldn’t try and sell a 4×4 to someone who drives a mini, would you?
The mini driver likes driving a small car so even if he may like to be able to afford a 4×4 one day, he is not in your Target Market
Work out who THE person is that really wants to buy from you
Learn where they are and what they need
What pains they have and if what your offer provides a solution to that pain
Fall in Love with your ideal client rather than what you are selling them.
Learning to have laser focus on your Target Market is the T of the Kershaw Partners TABS Framework.
Be an Attention Seeker
Be an Attention Seeker!
Once you have a laser focus on your Target Market, you need to start making some noise!
But make sure your audience is listening.
With a daily bombardment of noise, we are programmed to filter out the stuff that we have no interest in.
But if we hear something that interests us, or involves us, then we sit up and listen.
Focus on what your buyer wants, be relevant and targeted.
Position your offer to have the maximum appeal to your Target Market
Does the offer solve the need that they have?
If it does then they have to listen because it appeals directly to them.
Richard and Mike explain more.
Getting the Attention of your Buyer is the A of the Kershaw Partners TABS Framework.
Make Them Believe
Nobody Talks To Strangers Unless There Is a Good Reason To Do So
Your buyer wants to hire the person who gets the job done
Your Offer is perfect, you have made them listen to you, but do they believe you?
Are you really the expert you claim to be, the leader in your field?
Have you solved the same need for someone else?
Do you have a track record and testimonials that prove it?
Positioning yourself is nothing more than the art of making clients come to you.
Build your believability on your website, through social media, through insightful blogs and interviews.
Buyers want to work with experts, it raises their status, makes them feel good about themselves.
And here’s why.
Building Belief is the B of the Kershaw Partners TABS Framework.
The Solution is Clear
If You Can Meet The Needs Of Your Customer, You Will Have a Raving Fan Not Just a Loyal Customer
The solution is like a movie script
It is the Hero’s two journeys through the movie with your guidance
At the end there is a journey of Achievement
And a journey of Transformation
Their goals have been met and their desires have been met.
Working with you has raised their status, you have made them feel great about themselves.
They like you, they trust you, they believe in you.
And they have a tangible result.
How does that work?
The Solution is the S of the Kershaw Partners TABS Framework.
Stop Making Bad Decisions
Bad Decisions And Wrong Decisions, Same Thing, Right?
Wrong! There is a big difference, and the difference could be life and death for your business.
Decision 1 – You decide to do something based on gut instinct because you back yourself rather than others
Decision 2 – You look at the evidence, you interrogate and scrutinise, weigh up all the risks and decide to action
Which one is the bad decision?
Decision making is the toughest part of being an Entrepreneur, the greatest Entrepreneurs are the ones who are able to take quick and decisive decisions
Whether right or wrong, great Entrepreneurs will ALWAYS do the hard work
They will ALWAYS Risk Assess, Interrogate and Scrutinise and Seek Outside Opinion
Decision 1 – Beat yourself up
Decision 2 – Move on, you covered all your bases but you were wrong. Chances are it won’t be serious.