August 2021 at Agency Hackers

Here’s what’s coming up for Agency Hackers members this month. If your agency isn’t a member yet, sign up here.

STORY OF A SALE: When Does the Magic Wear Off?

Thinking of selling your agency one day? Find out what to expect before you sell up.

Naked Communications was sold in 2009 on a valuation of over £40m. In this talk former CFO Paul Allen tells us why an agency of its size and reputation decided to sell – and what lessons you can take.

“It wasn’t as if we went to market looking for a buyer” he says. “After ten years, we wanted to see what a sale might look like for us.”

We’ll talk about doing a deal, agreeing terms – and how to manage once you’re part of a larger entity. “Towards the end, the agency found itself on a downward trajectory and began to close some of its smaller offices to focus on four core territories.”

“People were starting to move on, wanting to go and work elsewhere, or set up their own agencies,” says Paul. “Over time, you lose a bit of that magic running your own thing, having been independent.”

⏰ 2pm, Thursday 5th August 2021

Do Your Agency’s Values Mean Anything? 

Do your agency’s values have real teeth – or are they just words on the wall?

Join this frank discussion with agencies who say they DO use their values to make hard decisions.

“Our values have had a massive impact on the way we approach business, the way we recruit, and everything we do in our daily life,” says Cas Majid, CEO and founder of the Wow Group.

Kat Arney, creative director of First Create the Media, also lives her values. “I was sceptical at first and thought it sounded like corporate bullshit but in fact they’ve shaped every decision we’ve made so far – including in our staff review and appraisal process.”

Hear examples of agencies whose values have sometimes led to difficult conversations – but say they are 10x better for it.

If you have ever struggled with your values, this is not one to miss.

⏰ 11am, Friday 6th August 2021

What’s the Best Way to Recruit Developers?

Hiring developers is one of the biggest headaches agencies have right now. How do you avoid bad ones? How do you know who are the good ones? Where do you find them?

Ben Lattimore was a developer himself. Now that he has his own development studio, Lattimore and Friends he’s had to become adept at hiring developers.  

We’ll be talking to Ben all about how to bring the best development talent on board.

  • Hiring local vs remote (or even global)
  • Introducing a formalised testing process. 
  • Using the appropriate tools to hire and communicate.
  • Nailing your QA.

⏰ 11am, Tuesday 10th August 2021

TRAINING SESSION: Transform Your Agency’s Marketing Strategy

When it comes to your clients, you know what you’re doing.

But when it comes to your agency’s own marketing strategy… can you say the same?

“Many agencies have creative ideas, but they don’t always get the chance to apply those themselves,” explains Sarah Edwards, marketing strategist and founder of Purple Banana.

So, where do you begin? How do you work out what building blocks you need?

From long-term goals and value proposition to internal delivery and processes, Sarah will talk us through how to solve the key challenges agency leaders face to help develop your agency’s marketing strategy – and create reliable growth as a result.

⏰ 10am, Wednesday 11th August 2021

Client Services Mastermind

2pm, Wednesday 11th August 2021

Calling all client services heroes! Join our monthly session for anybody with client services or account management responsibility. Drop in and meet other people doing your job at different agencies.

HR / People Mastermind

11am, Friday 13th August 2021

Calling all ‘people people’. Join our monthly hangout for HR and people folk. Share what you’re working on and meet other people in your role at different agencies.

OPEN SOURCE: Sarat Pediredla’s Snowball Effect

Sarat Pediredla is the CEO and co-founder of hedgehog lab, a digital product studio.

Hedgehog lab began trading in 2007, and in 2015 was a £1m agency. Now it has revenue of £7m. In this Open Source session, we will go through the major chapters of Sarat and hedgehog lab’s story so far and see what you can apply to your journey.

There are significant lessons in pivoting your agency, finding a niche, taking on private equity investment and hiring a senior team.

⏰ 11am, Tuesday 17th August 2021

Operations Mastermind

2pm, Wednesday 18th August 2021

This one is for the operations folk amongst you to check-in and compare notes with process people at other agencies.

HIVE MIND: “How Can I Set Fair KPIs for Creatives?”

KPIs are a great way to motivate your team and keep them on task. 

But when it comes to setting them specifically for your creative employees, how can you measure them fairly?

This is the fascinating dilemma posed by Helen Abbott, Head of Operations at Strafe Creative.

“I’ve tried multiple different approaches, and we’re trying to find something fair because we reward staff with a bonus each month,” she says. “It’s getting to grips with how we can have something measurable in place.”

⏰ 2pm, Thursday 19th August 2021

Finance Director Mastermind

11am, Friday 20th August 2021

This is our monthly session for anybody in an agency finance role. Swap stories and get advice from other people doing a CFO, Finance Director or similar role in an agency.

HAMSTER WHEEL: “It Was My Baby for 20 Years”

After almost 20 years at the helm of Ear to the Ground, Steve Smith decided it was time to ‘let go of his baby’ and take a step back.

“When you work 80 hours a week, dealing with clients and staff, and it’s a small agency, you’re dealing with everything,” says Steve. “I didn’t want this to be my future.”

Since 2018, he’s stepped into the role of chairman, which has given him a new perspective on the agency.

“I have the luxury of not being in the trenches. Instead, I’m looking at the business more strategically,” he says. “I’m not implementing things, but I’m helping shape them, which is really exciting.”

However, the shift from CEO to chairman wasn’t without its difficulties.

We’ll be chatting with Steve about the emotional rollercoaster of taking a step back, and how his life has changed now he has more time on his hands.

⏰ 10am, Tuesday 24th August 2021

How Do You Solve Your Agency’s Problems?

Are your agency’s problems the same as other agencies’ problems?

Anneli Ritari-Stewart runs Agency Partner, a growth accelerator for agencies.

Whenever somebody joins, they do a diagnostic report. What are the problems they face? What do they need to fix?

In this session Anneli will share some of the most common problems – and what you can learn from them.

“Agencies often don’t have a solid long-term plan to guide the business. It’s the age-old ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’,” says Anneli.

“Many agency owners want to exit in the future, but unfortunately their business isn’t in a shape where they will be able to. They need to be proactive about setting a growth plan, rather than waiting for business to come to them.”

So, what challenges are you facing?

Are you over-reliant on legacy clients? Is profitability low? Perhaps you’re struggling to hire top talent, or in understanding what exit options you have available to you.

We’ll be discussing all these issues and more – and how to solve them – with Anneli alongside Waypoint Partners’ Phil Gripton and Steven Mallon, and Guido Ampollini, founder of GA Agency.

Come along and help soothe your growing pains.

⏰ 2pm, Tuesday 24th August 2021

Marketing & New Business Mastermind

2pm, Wednesday 25th August 2021

This is your chance to check in with other marketing and new business minds and see what everyone’s up to.

TRAINING SESSION: How to Scale Beyond Founder-Led Sales

How do you stop the founder doing all the selling? Or being inextricably involved in the process?

“Being reliant on founder-led selling is always going to hamper you” says Karl Loudon, CEO and founder of Tevyan. “Even people who have reached £10m still struggle to wean themselves off the very heavy, consultative sell.” 

In this session Karl will be talking us through a framework that can help you tackle this.

“A lot of agencies will get somewhere using people’s black books which doesn’t always work – it’s about creating sustainable growth,” says Karl.

Join this 45-min interactive training session, as Karl takes us through his formula for scaling beyond founder-led sales to shake all the best ideas out of your agency and help implement change. 

⏰ 10am, Thursday 26th August 2021

LinkedIn: Personal Branding for Agency Leaders

11am, Friday 27th August 2021

This is your monthly chance to come together and share what has and hasn’t been working for you on LinkedIn – and get support from others if you’re keep to up your LinkedIn game.

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