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There’s a Trend In Small to Mid-sized Ad Agencies: Less Hiring.

October 16, 2012

It’s building, but without bodies.

And, I’m told it’s not necessarily because these agencies think the economy is going to get even worse, it’s that the recession has taught us how to do business with less full time employees.

We used to base our rankings and our success on our head counts – the more folks we had running around the agency, the more successful we must be. It was also great for our egos. But the most successful agencies I know today are not using people as a measurement of achievement. Those same managers are also using the less people/less overhead model as a unique selling point. And it’s not the “lower expense means lower prices” presentation either.

If you visit BrandSavants web site, (a Brand Establishment member firm) you’ll read that this San Diego agency has a small core of agency “smarties” with good strategic minds and a multi-disciplinary network of industry experts and they’ve branded it: Resource Rich™.

When Russ Cornelius, a principal at BrandSavants makes a pith – it sounds like this: We have a core competency of brand development – I’m a Certified Brand Strategist, and we only employ experts who help drive that expertise to the highest levels. Then, we reach out to our deep outside resource pool for expertise such as media planning, research, and production, etc. This means that our focus is on helping you build your business Mr. Prospect, not keeping a staff busy.

Now, I don’t think this trend should mean wholesale layoffs at your shop. When I did this in my agency, I spent an entire year preparing for the new operating model we called Small + Smart™. I made several employees independent contractors – most loved it. They had tax right offs they never had before, they could work for other shops and I paid them the going free-lance rate. And with today’s online legal services like, it’s cheap and easy to set up an LLC. I helped some others get jobs elsewhere and some actually joined together to create support companies of their own, with me as their first client. My office space also shrunk from 8,500 square feet in a high-rise to 2,500 in a very cool, turn-of-the-century warehouse and my goal of zero layoffs was met.

Let’s face it; what was once essential to small to mid-sized advertisers (loyalty, product and audience knowledge, responsive management and good creative execution) has been replaced by the need for strategic partners who play a significant role in the growth of their businesses. And, little else.

So, looking back, we all built our agencies to meet the wants and needs of our clients, right? Well, if those desires have changed, then it might be time to join the trend of building again.

By Jim Hughes – founder, The Brand Establishment

About The Brand Establishment

The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.