7 Things We Learned at the AAFB’s First Small Agency Workshop

How the AAFB is helping the Ad Community Grow

The American Advertising Association of Baltimore (AAFB) hosts fun and informative events each month for creative agencies of all sizes, many of them free to members. Last week, Matt Doud, co-founder of Planit and winner of the prestigious EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® award for Maryland, welcomed a select group of business owners for the AAFB’s very first small agency workshop.

The group of AAFB members, which included solo practioners as well as founders of 15four, Adashmore Creative, Early Light Media and idfive, gathered in Planit’s conference room overlooking the Inner Harbor, to share a few drinks and ask Matt a few questions about the challenges of running a creative shop in Baltimore.

Here were some of the group’s key takeaways:

1. Timesheets suck. Everyone hates them and it doesn’t matter your size. And they are still important, sadly. This topic sparked a group conversation on best practices for keeping staff motivated to track in a timely manner.

2. Culture rules. The little things are the big things. You can’t create or fake a culture, but you can nurture it and shape it and celebrate it. Good vibes attract those who feel them and repel those who don’t. Give in on the little things such as beer, events and other small perks. Ultimately, good culture comes from good leadership and well-defined roles. Matt shared best practices and some of Planit’s favorite culture-building activities.

3. It’s not you, it’s me. When it comes to clients, always be the first to address when something isn’t going well. Their answer will reveal disconnects, and whether it can get better going forward.

4. Communication is king. Whether it is between your staff or with your client, communication can make a world of difference when it comes to setting expectations and understanding each other. The workshop highlighted some of the easiest ways to keep communication consistent and effective.

5. The AOR might be DOA. Retainers are harder to get these days, no matter the size or scope of the project. Matt shared his tips on growing projects into long term relationships over time.

6. PR is important. Hiring a PR specialist early on can bring value to your clients and also increase your company’s visibility. When new business conversations start with, “We’ve heard of you guys,” it makes a big difference. Some of the most Planit’s most successful PR practices were highlighted.

7. Never stop training. Even when you hire good people, if you want them to treat clients your way, you have to keep teaching and coaching your values. It takes more work than you think to transfer important values. The workshop shared ideas for keeping up with training over time.

Overall, the biggest thing that came out of this workshop was that regardless of size we all go through similar difficulties and hit similar roadblocks. We are all fighting to bring more creative work to Baltimore and we can learn a lot from each other when we come together to ask questions and share ideas.

The AAFB is playing a crucial role in helping the local ad industry grow and prosper. Don’t miss out on the AAFB’s next member-only event, visit www.baltimoreadvertising.com to learn more about the benefits of becoming a member.