Regardless of whether you are part of a hot-shop 17-man creative boutique, or one of a 450-man flagship office of a global agency network, the advertising business still needs more than a healthy dose of entrepreneurs – and I think the industry is forgetting that.
The challenge with this business, however large the brand name or the network, is that at the end of the day we run and act like SMEs. Small and medium sized businesses have some very different features to large corporate conglomerates mainly based around the type of people they employ and how these employees need to act on a day to day basis.
- Good enough simply isn’t good enough: In an industry that still has it’s roots in design, we know that nothing is ever perfect and therefore there is always an improvement to be made. Whether this is in the way we package our thoughts, the creative ideas or the final product, our objective has always been to over deliver to ensure that the client is not just happy, but wowed with our skills.
- Always searching for new opportunities: Part of always making things better is thinking about how they were done, and whether there is a different approach – particularly with the advent of the plethora of new media channels, an idea alone isn’t enough, but we need to think about how it can be executed and this brings up a great deal of options. So again we need to be constantly refining.
- Staying at the forefront of evolution: The business is far from static, so if you are comfortably entrenched in your print production process today, there is a good chance that either the process will change to digital tomorrow, or the media will change to the iPad – one way or another you need to be ahead of the game to be ready.
- Everyone is a finance director, strategist and creative: Just because you are an art director or in client service, our ‘boxes’ are much more open as we need to be managing the finances (a service based industry), the team skillset and the overall strategy of the client, whilst at the same time delivering on the brief.
So how does this overlap with the entrepreneurial skillset?
Entrepreneurs are passionate, they have a calling to a business, industry, sector or product and it is their life – we have to accept that this never has, and never will be, a pure 9-5 job – and above this you also need to be someone who crosses a range of skill groups, from finance to strategy and creativity, not an expert in them all but knowledgeable enough to understand what is going on. Some of the best performers in the business are those who have had access to a number of different jobs, crossing from media to creative or planning to production. What is happening today? We seem to be hoping that the industrial revolution has come to advertising and communications, that the integration of technology into our business has meant that we can fire of an email and everything will be taken care of – unfortunately, exactly the opposite is happening; increasing use of technology has done nothing but complexify our business by creating more options at the top end (media channels) and tighter margin at the bottom end (mass access to production tools) and so more than ever we need savvy business entrepreneurs to drive the industry into the future.
What does this mean for HR in advertising as we move into our own industrial revolution?
So when you look around your offices and you see those employees who are doing their own job (the one their aged title still refers to) and also reaching out to get involved with other pieces of the business, whether this is creative to strategy or client service to HR – here is where you need to focus, these are the future of the organisation. And when you have a great art director who does nothing but art… well at some point difficult decisions have to be made.