How To Handle Stress For Agency Leaders 7 months ago

Take a look at any article (like this one on Why Agency People Are So Unhappy) or study on agency stress and you’ll find a focus on disgruntled employees – blamed on management’s failure to invest in culture, the competitive nature of the industry, impractical leadership, persistent negative feedback and even the innate personality types that tend to come along with those who choose careers in advertising.

With 80% of marketers feeling overloaded and understaffed, (according to a Workfront survey), and the majority of agency employees working 10- to 12-hour days, all this content pushing for agency leadership to better cultivate work-life balance to make agency life better is understandable (even if for nothing more than clicks). But there’s very little on the insurmountable stress agency leaders feel.

If you’re an agency leader, you know all too well the pressures of running and growing your business – so much so it probably keeps you up at night.

Agencies have taken all sorts of approaches to improving morale and wellness from Oglivy’s rooftop rabbit-petting zoo to Carat’s tea tastings to Wieden+Kennedy’s block on early meetings – all culture-based, agency-wide initiatives that may make employees happier, and in turn better at their jobs – for the short-term – but how are agency leaders actually enabling and empowering their employees to be more successful? Because the real solution is that successful employees are your only sure-fire way to ease the stress by eliminating at least some of the burden. When you instill an agency-wide growth mentality with a culture based on success as your key deliverable, you’ll build an entire growth force able to identify and leverage opportunities so new business doesn’t just fall on you. So while bunnies may help, indirectly, can you really hold them accountable for growing your agency?

“When it comes to easing executive stress, it all comes down to prioritization of time and resources. Figure out a way to do that, that works for you — whether it’s your toolset, resources, perspective or likely, a combination of all three.” –Joe Olsen, Birdsnest CEO and Co-Founder, and former agency CEO

Research shows 73% of executives don’t believe agencies are focused enough on key business metrics. Today’s clients expect all agency efforts to be measurable and connected to an overall business strategy, demanding consulting-like capabilities in lieu of the one-off campaigns of the past. Unfortunately most agencies are failing to prioritize, and lacking the measurable goals and benchmarks necessary to hold their internal teams accountable for delivering on new expectation sets.

“I led a successful agency for 13 years advising clients across industry sectors, and today run a tech company and while most of my customers today are agency leaders, we all have a lot more in common than you’d expect,” Olsen adds. “Leadership must set measurable goals before identifying tactics, articulating them to their teams so when anyone executes it all ladders up to the business outcomes that matter for your business. Then you can hold your team accountable, and instill discipline to define outcomes and governance to ensure integrity — you’ll foster an aligned staff, engaged management team and pragmatic leadership. To ensure your efforts are moving the needle and you’re being successful, your team needs to be on the same page about where you’re going. You’d be surprised how many leaders fail to realize that.”

As part of Digiday’s ongoing interview series with anonymous agency veterans, this week’s subject discussed the dangers of advertising’s burn and churn mentality, how the industry breeds competition in lieu of collaboration, the discrepancy between the people-first value systems agencies tout but fail to deliver on – as well as:

“I always believe that people cut marketing first in the budget, so we have to justify why we’re there. Always. Marketing isn’t sales. And it becomes hard to identify if the marketing works. There is data there, but it’s not representative as a whole…”

“…You have to do a correlation of what’s happening in the world and what’s happening in the audience world. What’s happening is that most marketing people have to justify what they’re doing. To do that you have to sound smarter than you are. Otherwise, you’ll lose the business.”

It’s a harsh reality many agency leaders would rather ignore – often times holding on to the belief that good work still speaks for itself. Amid today’s marketing landscape, we know there’s an increasing demand for agencies to be strategic, deliver on business outcomes and provide measurable results. If you haven’t already, check out The Agency’s Guide to Earning a Seat with the C-Suite as it dives into how agencies can easily create these types of relationships – taking the pressure off of how to do it and eliminating the need to increase headcount, build a new strategy team or restructure the processes that already work for you. But how does Birdsnest fit in?

You’re Stressed. Birdsnest Takes The Burden Off Agency Leaders.

Although Birdsnest is coined The Client Services Engine, we really work for you – agency leaders. Our strategic marketing attribution and relationship development tool is created for modern agencies, by helping define, track and define business success with clients. In turn, this provides you with a predictable pipeline of consistent and correlated project streams, and the ability to easily scale your business.

Your best leads are probably your current clients, and if you’re currently using a CRM (…or worse, notebooks or spreadsheets) to manage organic growth in terms of new business and current client development, you’re lacking any visibility into agency opportunity, projects coming down the pipeline and a process to hold your teams accountable for agency growth. Chief Martec’s 2017 Marketing Technology Landscape showcases 5,381 solutions, all claiming to help agencies be more efficient and effective. If your agency team is equipped with tools and resources that merely focus on marketing metrics, how are you proactively enabling them to be more strategic, ultimately transforming day-to-day client management into long-term client growth? And for agencies that are delivering strategic value to clients, how much time are you wasting building bespoke reports, compiling disparate data from different tools, when your teams could be focusing on new opportunities and agency growth?

We find too many agencies are losing money, time and opportunity. Our goal at Birdsnest is to help taken the burden off agency leadership. Schedule a demo to find out how Birdsnest can start helping grow your agency today.

With Birdsnest, find more business. Sell more work. And get a good night’s rest.

Not ready for a demo?

Download our free ebook, The Agency’s Guide to Earning a Seat with the C-Suite.