There’s no doubt that he’s stuck.
We got on the phone and he told me about his business challenges.
- His sales aren’t growing (in fact, he’s having a down year in 2019).
- His #1 client that has been ~20% of sales the last 3+ years, decided to work with a different agency.
- He’s spending more time and money dragging clients in the door than he ever has, despite winning awards and being on all the top lists of agencies.
- His right-hand person, whom he was grooming for partnership, quit suddenly. Now he doesn’t know who to trust.
- His wife is sick of him working all the time, and when he’s not working, he’s worried about work.
- He’s tired, frustrated, and he’s not getting any younger!
So I ask him about his target audience and what he offers. What’s different about his agency? What does his team know more about than the agency down the street?
Brad, it’s our creative! Don’t you see the awards? Look at the work, it’s amazing. We’ve got great results for all kinds of businesses, B2B, B2C, print, digital, we can do it all!
It is impressive work, really stunning. But can clients see that difference? Or more to the point, do they care? Does that stunning creative matter more than having a ten year track record of success in one industry? Does it matter more than understanding the particular problem that their clients face and case studies that show they have done it over and over again?
What if clients don’t value the creative the way you do?
If you are going to hire a tax accountant, and one accountant tells you that they are the smartest accountant in town, they’ve worked on all kinds of people’s taxes, and the other tells you that they work only with people who own agencies and they have specific tax strategies for agency owners which one would you pick?
Wouldn’t you choose the specialist? How can you tell if the first accountant is smart or not? Are you going to go over tax returns to see how smart they are? Of course not!
When your margins are shrinking, and you are spending more time and money generating new work, something has to change. I can see he’s in pain; I can see he’s working harder, and harder. But he’s still unwilling to try narrowing his target market.
The scary part (to me) is that I’ve had this conversation with him before — we have this conversation about once a year — and every time he tells me why he can’t specialize, why he needs to stay a “full-service” creative firm, despite the fact that it’s getting harder and harder.
Can you relate?
Do you think I’m writing this email about your firm? Could this be your firm, if not today, then in a few years? There’s still time to change, to do something different. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted, in debt, and thinking about quitting.
You have been putting in the work; you’ve got your systems down, you’re good at your craft, you are poised for a breakthrough.
The steps are straightforward but not easy. Hit reply and we can talk about how to get you there.