One day an outlier, often questioned and looked down upon. The next day, a role model and example for mainstream being questioned for different reasons, all because of one pandemic. Let me explain.
“You Are Not an Agency”
Ten years ago, I made a decision many entrepreneurial spirits make in the marketing agency business, I decided to go out on my own to cast a better way of doing business for my clients and me. After being a partner in a traditional agency with the obligatory office space and full-time cast of employees, I decided working from home and aligning myself with the most talented people I could find in the country was a better business model. Honestly, the idea of creating a more agile business model than the bloated one traditionally in place seems both financially more responsible and different for all the right reasons.
Agencies historically tout their special skills as their differentiators. The agencies are public relations specialists or creative houses or digital teams, and, of course, they all claim the ability to provide full services (aka all the marketing skills you may need). I know, it does not make sense to be a specialist that offers you everything but that is the industry we are a part of today. We tout our unique business model as a differentiator and then work to be like everyone else.
The idea of not following this traditional, brick and mortar employee-based agency to be what a few people including myself called a virtual agency was laughable to some or many, depending on how sensitive to the chatter you are. To be an agency working from home was dismissed. Being told “You are not an agency” was typical. Then came the pandemic.
It is Not About Working from Home
The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to have their employees work from home for health safety reasons. Our business had been working under this new business model successfully for years. Many of the businesses that told us we were not any agency, were now asking us how to best operate in the WFH (an acronym makes everything more important). Suddenly, the business world was coming to us. No longer the outlier, business became some much easier for us and many others PLUS the real secret of success was beginning to show its beautiful face.
Working from home is not the secret, it is the people and their ability to work in an environment that fosters agility, creativity, responsibility, independence, teamwork, commitment, and discipline when working from home. Suddenly, people are recognizing the greater potential of themselves and other people in this environment. Many are becoming more efficient and effective. Most importantly, those people with experience in their chosen field are showing even greater worth.
Buried the Lead
The real outlier in this story is the experienced, tenured agency professional. I have written about the incredible ageism in the industry and have shown the example of agency teams being a complete generation younger than the homeowners the building industry is targeting. Would you buy a house from your kids or their friends? Do they have any idea what you want or need based on their experience?
As is often the case when talking about the pandemic, we buried the lead by talking about working from home when the lead is the value and power of the experienced agency people that are perfectly prepared, skilled, and ready to take on the transitions in the industry that are taking place. Think recession. I have experienced three including the Great one.
Experience Never Gets Old
The idea that one day experience is overlooked or discounted in lieu of youth and the next it is appreciated and embraced is my wish for today. Just like the being an outlier for working from home once was prior to the pandemic. The desire for change and the capacity to make it happen is ageless though having the benefit of experience can reduce the risk. We have built our business on the advantages of experience for our clients and our business. We love to take risks based on our experiences. The outcomes are remarkably successful by all measures. Our experience in the home and building industries is a real, unique, and meaningful differentiator for us from other agencies and is a difference maker to our clients. We have the record to prove it.