My Advertising Agency Survival Guide. 2020 Version.
I am republishing this April Advertising agency survival guide blog post. Why? The Association of National Advertisers, the ANA, is going to pass it along to their membership. So, I figure why not try to make sure that you as an advertising agency has a chance to see it or better, re-read it.
Frankly, I thought that there has been too much “what to do about the Covid-19 pandemic and the future of the advertising agency future”… But, I think that this is a good summary that has stood the test of time.
Tough Question. Will Your Advertising Agency Survive?
Here is my educated take on which advertising agencies will survive and how they will make it happen. It is my advertising agency survival guide.
Having gone through the 2007 – 2008 recession as an agency owner, I saw approximately one-third of advertising agencies fail or shrivel. My current survival advice is based on watching that storm as well as recent deep conversations with small and medium-sized agencies. I did not choose to rush out my thoughts. I actually thought about my thoughts. LOL.
Plus, this is not short and sweet. You will actually have to read all of it. OK, it is sweet.
Quickie… I am giving away my 30 years of huge and small agency experience, guidance and coaching for free – for awhile – the right thing to do. If you want smart advice, go here. It will open a new window for this offer.
Two Quick & Very Important Points.
How long will the shit-storm last?
Like you, I have no clue when any semblance of normality will return. I have to assume it will. Plan accordingly.
Chamath Palihapitiya is one of my most respected “advisors”. He has said that companies should be able to adjust and make new plans to survive 36 months. 36! Yes.
He says, think like this is another depression. Whoa. Are you ready?
This is what I do know… If you want to be in the top 1/3, you can’t lose all or even some marketing energy or brand awareness. Why make your voyage back too uphill?
You will get my marketing recommendations below. But first, the big question.
Will Your Advertising Agency Fail?
Here is what an advertising agency principle should be doing right now. I admit that this is generalized given the diversity of the types of advertising agencies. But generalized does not mean its not an effective how-to for virtually any agency.
- “Advertising Agency”: This is my universal term for most types of communications marketing firms.
- “Client”: A client is a company that has consistently used any form of advertising or digital marketing. In your case, it is a client that meets your target criteria (you have that, right) and you think would want to hire you. Sorry, Nike and Adidas do not want to hire you.
OK, Advertising Agency… What Are You Going To Do About it?
I am going to be tough here. At least 30% of advertising agencies will fail in the next twelve to eighteen months.
This post provides my take on how to survive, my advertising agency survival guide. For the winners, how to set yourself up for growth.
6 Advertising Agency Pain Points – I Know You Know This. But, It Is Worth Restating.
- Your current and future clients are freaked out.
- Some current clients have already reduced or canceled advertising and project spend.
- Agency profitability sucks.
- You will be too slow to manage your costs.
- Agencies, too many, are already poorly positioned, and, worse, are unbelievably ignorable.
- Prospective clients “probably” do not want to hear from you.
Advertising Agency Survival Strategies
I know what I am talking about. I’ve won and lost. My advertising agency survived the 2007-2008 recession. My $30 million VC funded digital business did not survive the 2001 dot-com bust. Don’t feel bad for me, Microsoft eventually bought our technology.