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Shanty

Small Agency negotiating Tough Times?

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If you’re running a start-up advertising agency, every day is a challenge. Here are 10 strategies to help you pull through tough times.

1. Create IPs: Ideas can’t always be measured. Hence create Big Idea IPs or Intellectual Properties for your clients instead of ideas. These will reward clients with big marketing solutions and help your bottom-line as well, since you’re billing a thought, not a job.

2. Open-source: Use technology to your benefit. Ideas are borderless. Work with writers or art directors from different regions. Working on a brand from the Middle East for their launch in South America? Use a South American communication mind.

3. Collaborate: Can’t afford to hire a digital team? Don’t have the capability to manage a client event? Collaborate with another small agency that shares your wavelength. Present yourself as one team to the client, ethically. But never say no to business opportunities.

4. Be present every time: Yes it’s just the 2 or 3 of you in a team. Yes there are 30 things to do in a day. Still make time to be there for every client meeting, in person. WhatsApp and Emails can’t compensate for your face and mind.

5. Target 10 new businesses every month: Look through LinkedIn for brands looking for agencies. Pass your visiting card to every new person you meet. Speak to neighbours and friends and ask them to recommend you. Be bold and unembarrassed.

6. [email protected]: Work from home. Work from your toilet. Work from a coffee shop. Work from the place where your child is attending a birthday party. As long as you don’t spend on office rent.

7. Show a creative at a new meeting: Invest in time and have a thought or a creative execution whenever you meet a new client. It’s a powerful way to showcase you’re already thinking, without any obligation.

8. Create for every occasion: Diwali? Here’s a card from us. World AIDS Day? Here’s a post from us on Instagram. Completed 2 years in business? We can’t afford to throw a party, but hey it’s still big news for us.

9. Trust your partners: They will always have your back, no matter what. Fight with them. Argue endlessly. Tear their hair and yours in frustration. But never ever give up on them. They make you as much as you make them. And together you make a combined dream endure.

10. Don’t take a business loan for at least 2 years: Be debt-free for 730 days. It’s easy to be swayed by capital or investors. It’s easy to succumb to loan money to adjust for difficult cash flows. But it’s not so easy paying off interest and principals when your cash flow rhythms are still to be settled.

Most importantly, and this is Strategy 11, Have Fun. Remember you’re nurturing your own baby. Cherish the struggle of the teething years and look ahead with confidence.

The Abominable Snowman, The Loch Ness Monster and The Advertising Copywriter

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The first two creatures are believed to exist, but their existence is yet to be proven. The latter creature; The Advertising Copywriter is proven, but might have ceased to exist.

Verily, The Advertising Copywriter, in all probability, has passed into legend; into the nether recesses of a time long gone.

Who reads copy anyway? In fact, if you’ve got to this sentence, you might actually qualify to receive a Victoria Cross Medal from the Forgotten Copywriter’s Relief Fund.

Copy is dead. Long live the Visual.

Who wants to read 8 words in a line or two, when s/he can feast on a 34D Cup in a Visual? Who wants to recognise that interesting turn of phrase, the marvellously crafted pun, that deliciously involving smart metaphor that casts a line and hooks you into reading an ad further, that brilliant reprise to the headline right at the end to clinch the argument?

Admit it, even you would have preferred a bloody visual to this diatribe. Something to make a point in 3 seconds and let you get back to your LinkedIn, your Facebook, your tweets and your social existence.

Yeah this is a rant. An unabashed, unashamed, undeniable and unembarrassed plea.

To clients who want visuals, because who reads copy. To account managers who want visuals, because they don’t read copy. To a 160-character generation who wants visuals, because copy for them is a single line that hopefully sings to them in a tune they can hum.

So it goes. The slow, choking and painful demise of The Advertising Copywriter. Who, these days, comes to his desk, retires his pen and logs on to an image bank to help his art director with a visual idea. The saddest part in this is that he’s probably forgotten himself, more than the world seems to have forgotten him.

There was a time when The Advertising Copywriter ruled the roost. When his words meant something. When his words moved the world. When a reader or consumer would feel the emotion of his words come through the verse – just as the Writer would feel when pouring his emotion to make a sale through the lamina of his pen meeting the grain of the paper.

The Yeti and Nessie might still be found. The Copywriter is lost forever.

P.S.: We at Slant believe the requiem for The Advertising Copywriter has still to be composed. Indeed, if you need finely-tuned copy for your brand, don’t get lost searching for The Loch Ness Monster. Just contact us. 

10 Quick Tips to Run A Start-up Ad Agency

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It’s the era of start-ups. Why should advertising be any different? After 20 years of being an advertising employee, one ventured to start an agency in 2015, based out of Dubai. So considering the ‘limited’ experience of 2 years in business, here are 10 Quick Tips to run a startup Ad Agency:

  1. Be a start-up. Not an upstart: Keep your attitude at the door. Be humble. Be grateful. Embrace every opportunity as if it is your last.
  2. Answer every email: In 15 minutes of receiving it. Yes, you have no idea how professional this makes you seem like. An email answered quickly is a client gained or retained.
  3. Make a rate card: You may not have all the bells and whistles of a medium-sized or large agency. You can still have a rate card. Ensure your rates are judicious and in line with the talent and resources you offer.
  4. Look one day ahead: It’s very easy to lose patience, or harbour a desire to quit in a snap. The easiest way to get around this is to plan for just 1 day, every day. There’s no point in getting ahead of yourself.
  5. Invest profits to cover losses: On jobs that you make a little more money, keep that extra revenue to cover up for lean periods or months where you don’t hit your targeted revenue.
  6. Learn: Multi-task like hell. If you’re a writer, learn some basic art software. If you’re an art director, learn to make a presentation. If you’re a press specialist, learn some digital tools. And keep learning.
  7. Don’t get an office: Unless you have an investor or extra money. Clients might want to meet in an office. There’s always a coffee shop. There’s no embarrassment in having a virtual office. You thinking on your feet matters, not the square feet your agency occupies.
  8. Rules are rules: Licensing. Workman’s compensation. Insurance. Renewals. Book Audits. And with the VAT coming in soon, you have to force yourself to understand what you wish to excuse yourself from.
  9. Carry your visiting cards: Always. I have missed 4 good opportunities on possible clients, just because I wasn’t carrying my cards. Keep 10 in your wallet at all times, even when going for a movie.
  10. Smile at smirks: People will talk behind your back. They will criticise you. They will tell you how to run your business. They will say it’s best to get back to an agency desk job. They can go graze their own grass.

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