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Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste.

As we head toward the end of 2009 and the end of the decade, it’s fair to say that 2009 will be year most agencies and businesses in general will be glad to forget. The drop-off in consumer demand, high unemployment, devastation of the financial markets, and overall angst has been the worst in my lifetime and the worst since the Depression.

 Many agencies have tried to cope with declining client budgets, overall reduced revenue, and the economic malaise in different ways. Most have executed the “traditional” cuts—reduced head counts; benefit reductions, 401k match elimination, etc. Truth is most agencies, even the most successful ones, took a step backward in 2009.

 My question for agency management is… Have you made the radical, business altering decisions necessary to compete effectively in coming years, or are you just trying to cope and hope an economic rebound, that may never come, is around the corner? In light of the changes in the economy I believe that now is the time to reflect on the crises we have experienced to more dramatically rethink your agency’s reason for being, how you structure, charge for services, and what services you provide.

 Here are the four things you should do right now:

1. Objectively determine what you do well. What industry, what discipline, what makes you special. Then (and here’s the hard part) do that & only that. This may require that you step back before you move forward. But you will move forward. Have faith.

2. Having done #1, determine who (among your current staff) really has the skills to help drive the agency in the focused direction. Be very careful of trying to retrofit your current staff thinking that an old time art director who still works on a board with an exacto knife will be good at web design.

3. Reposition your agency clearly behind this new focus. Don’t be wishy washy about it.

4. Change your business development program focusing solely on the category/discipline you choose to highlight. Again don’t be wishy washy here either.

 These are hard times. Those with focus, a strong reason for being, and a reputation for excellence will continue to succeed. Those who don’t…….

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