“Not your typical advertising agency”. That’s what I had in mind when I started Abstraction, and in my mind, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve in my first year. And of course to deliver quality work on time and within budget. To this end, things have gone really well. My clients are happy and I love the work I do for them, but I also came to realize that the nuts and bolts of my business are very much like that of every other agency. This bugged me because it felt like maybe I had lost sight of my goals.
Working with my clients is about more than just receiving and fulfilling a brief. I immerse myself in their business, getting down to the core of each brief, be it a problem the client is facing or an opportunity they are exploring. Every brief represents an opportunity for growth. But this still sounds like what every other senior account suit or AD is doing. Still looking for that point of difference.
It wasn’t until an insightful meeting earlier this week that I realized what the point of difference is, and that point of difference is me.
Smoke, mirrors and timesheets?
I value relationships much higher than making money off an invoice. That’s a position I have maintained from the start, and maybe the underlying reason why I never quite felt like I fit into the agency world. Agency-client relationships are often complex, hierarchical and full of smoke and mirrors. This can leads to relationships that feel permanently strained, which in turn means things take much longer to get done. Agencies, be they advertising, strategic or creative, are at their core a service-focused business, so it bugs me when client service becomes purely transactional. This could be due to average billings, budget constraints, history or any number of reasons. Maybe the agency and the client have just settled into a comfortable rhythm of WIPs and KPI’s. To paraphrase Daylight Agency’s Chris Gray this is the point where agencies stop being transformational for their clients. Who doesn’t get job satisfaction from knowing they’ve helped transform their client’s business? It’s all about going that step above.
Over- and under servicing, billing reviews, constant re-estimating, WIPs, KPIS’s are all part of this industry but it’s just not how I want to do business. Yes, having clear goals and outcomes in mind are essential, but shouldn’t be a roadblock to taking the relationship with your client to the next level.
I’ll happily go above and beyond to demonstrate value to a prospective client. Heck, I’ll work on projects for free if it’s a project lacking funds but one I feel strongly about. Maybe a small business needing a decent website or offering to redesign a document for a company that’s not my client but whose product I love. This is not to say that I under-value my time. Instead, it’s about showing the clients or even prospective clients that they are valued as much as I value my own time.
So what is Abstraction all about?
That’s the real question. If it’s not about billings and bucks then what is Abstraction about? It’s about service. Client service. And damned good client service at that, no matter what shape or form the brief. If I can be transformative for my client’s business in any way I’ll take it, because that’s the difference between good agencies and great ones.
This is me, this is Abstraction. Talk to me, and let’s do things differently.