Begin Planning for 2015 With the 3 P's of Agency Success

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Bob Klein
Bob Klein



Agencies are notorious for being owlishly focused on what helps to power our clients’ successes. We go to great lengths to clearly define and achieve results.

But what of the agency itself? How does an agency define and report on its own success? At the risk of pointing out the obvious: an agency wants what every other business wants — superior return on investment.

That’s why clearly defining metrics for success should be part of every agency’s integrated business plan.

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions and end-of-year planning, don’t you think it is time to look inward and define concrete measures for your agency’s success in 2015?

Often, the best approach to this is the same approach an agency might use to collaborate with clients to author marketing plans, which begins with a clear articulation of success and metrics to validate.

Here are three priorities to consider when evaluating how your agency is performing and what it can do to make 2015 even better:

1) People

Measurement begins every day with the power of engaging with your employees on a meaningful level. Some industries call it rounding, and others call it management by walking around. Done correctly, it’s a powerful way of catching people in the moment for a temperature check. Some important tips: Listen carefully. Keep office doors open. Ask managers to grab coffee or lunch with a cross-section of employees as often as you can. A nod in the elevator or a simple “how was your weekend” is not a substitute for a means of garnering honest, candid feedback.

Our agency has also found success with a fresh twist on the old-fashioned feedback box — a virtual suggestion box on our intranet portal with a team that reviews and responds to every suggestion submitted.

Coupling real-time, in-the-moment qualitative feedback with an annual quantitative assessment is a must for every agency. We survey employees annually, applying 32 different evaluative metrics, and benchmark our success on a longitudinal basis against ourselves and other companies. (How’s that for fancy metric speak?)

2) Product

Agency communication managers should cover their ears — or eyes — for this one. Industry publication headlines and awards are not the most important measures of your product. (Hold for shock to subside.) It’s how your clients think you’re doing, and whether or not you’re delivering on your promise — whatever that may be.

Ours is the promise of transformational growth. Our professional practice leaders meet quarterly for top-to-top conversations. Each has the courage to ask the question others hesitate to ask: How are we doing? What can we be doing better?

We couple client-specific feedback with an annual survey across all clients, measuring our performance against metrics aligned with those of our employees. We track longitudinally to identify trends and adjust our plans accordingly.

3) Profit

It’s our belief that when you put people first, you’re much more likely to deliver a great product. And when that happens, it’s a joy to track our overall top-line and bottom-line financial performance. This, in turn, allows us to reward the lynchpin of our success — our people.

All of this, of course, hinges on honesty with yourself as a leader, your people, and your clients. Honesty is the undercurrent of the three P's. After all, have you ever known a client to pull punches or not tell you the honest truth about how they believe you’re doing as an agency?

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