The Central Nervous System of Business Communication: Can You Stay in the Conversation?

As boring as it sounds, money is the central nervous system in how businesses communicate. In 2017, Your Clients will understand financial implications better – shouldn’t your staff? Will you and your team be able to keep up with the conversation?
Companies are now expecting their marketing staff (your clients) to be responsible for the entire financial impact of their decisions – not just blanket guestimates. In the past, marketing has been able to make statements to the effect of “spending ‘x’ amount on advertising will bring ‘y’ amount of money back to us.” While accountability has not been a wide spread concept in the past, 2017 will be a year in which people will be held accountable for their decisions.
According to a study by Northwestern University, companies are now asking marketers to relate marketing things to what the business is trying to do. A challenge for marketers in 2017 will be knowing how to sit down with their CFO and answer financial questions and deal with the financial issues affected by marketing.
If your clients are going to be expected to understand what their financial numbers mean and be able to justify their decisions based on real dollars and cents, shouldn’t your team? I’m not saying everyone should know that debits are on the right and credits are on the left. I am suggesting that everyone provides more value to the company and to your clients if they have a basic understanding of where the numbers come from and what they mean. Additionally, this knowledge gives you the ability to understand your costs and emphasize both your value and that of your team to your business.
Here are four important questions to ask yourself:
  1. If you bring in a new client, or grow an existing client, do you know what the incremental costs will be?
  2. When you are selling ideas to your clients and prospects, can you explain the financial benefits for your plan – not just tell them they will reach more people with great creative execution?
  3. Can you define your value to the company in real facts and figures?
  4. Are you able to rationalize your need for additional resources other than making a vague statement that your staff is ‘just stretched too thin’?

If you answered “No” to just one of these questions, I highly recommend you attend a 2-Day Workshop Money and Finance for the Creative Industry. You will get the Yes answers to these questions and Much, Much More! The Workshop will be held at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, NV on April 5th and 6th. You will leave with a wealth of information, real life applications of the knowledge you will gain, and a lots of ideas and concepts to share with your company. The first 10 people to register can do so at close to HALF of the normal registration fee. There are still some of these available – so be sure and register now!

I hope that I will see you in Vegas this April!

Are You Ready for 2017? Take This Quiz and Find Out!

I am not a superstitious person, but I did eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day – as I do most years (when I remember). This tradition – handed down to me from my Southern-born parents – is supposed to bring luck and prosperity.
Another tradition I practice at the beginning of each year is to reflect on where I have been and then look forward to where I want to go. Doing this allows me to establish a plan of action for reaching my goals. You can do the same for your business – just take this quick quiz and see where you have weak spots. These are the areas to work on for the next year which will prepare you for success in 2017.
1.    What makes you different from the competition? I ask this question first because the answer is important. If you reply it is your creative ideas, then join the other thousands who are answering this question right now. You are in business in a Creative Industry. If your ideas are not creative, you are not in the right business. So, what makes your company different? Dig deep and find what makes you REALLY different?
2.    Have you reviewed your end of year “Analytics” – also known as your Financial Statements? Think of these like the SEO analytics of your business health. Just as you would look at site statistics and trends, the new year is a time first to review how your business fared last year. Then, you can set goals for 2017. Click here if you are unsure how to understand the data these reports provide and what your financials are telling you.
3.    Have you created your Sales Plan for the upcoming year? Using your analytics and financial data from last year, you should be able to plan your sales pipeline for 2017. Creating a sales plan will allow you to track your sales and compare your results against your goals and prior years.
4.    Have you established your profitability goals? A simple way to calculate and set this target is to review the details of your revenue sources over the past 3 – 5 years. Then, create a budget for the upcoming year where you foresee your income should come from.  Here are some of the benefits of creating budgets!
After answering these four questions, celebrate all of the “Yes” responses you gave. If you answered “No” to any of the above questions, take a few moments and expand on what you can do to make the answer yes. Sometimes, getting the unbiased and honest feedback from a professional can help with this.
Remember that a Goal without a Plan is just a Dream. Moreover, a Plan without Action will always just be a Goal.
Are you ready to take Action in 2017?

Your 2017 Business GPS

Creative business owners often need management tools for running their shops. These tools help relate the financial information with the overall performance of the agency. One of these tools are financial budgets. Budgeting may be one of the most important accounting tools you can use in your business.

Creating and tracking financial budgets provides many benefits to your company such as letting you adjust spending, increase sales efforts, and know how to react to an unexpected drop in revenue. While there are many benefits to budgeting, this tool can be damaging to your agency if not prepared correctly. For example, budgeting just to put limits on spending might keep you from being able to react early on to market fluctuations.

Some of the benefits to budgeting include:

Creates Financial Roadmap

Budgets act like a financial GPS for your company. They let you set your goals and priorities telling you when and where to turn along the journey. They will quickly identify bumpy roads and show you where to make adjustments to get back on the right course.

Establish Pricing for Profitability

More and more often I hear my clients say they decide what to charge their clients based on what they think the client will pay. Not only does this approach leave money on the table, it may put you out of business. Budgeting is a valuable tool that helps you set pricing based on financial facts, not gut guesswork.


You get an RFP from a client that is a perfect match but can you afford to spend the money to stay in the fight with your competition. Having a budget not only provide the answer to this question, but it makes sure you have planned and are ready for the moment. Budgeting for future growth opportunities ensures that companies have enough funds on hand to make quick decisions for expanding business operations.

Some people see budgets as a way to give departments their allowance for the year. While this is one of the benefits of budgeting, there is so much more that budgeting will provide your company.

Not sure the best way to create and/or take full advantage of your budgeting processes?

This is one of the areas covered in our upcoming two-day workshop “Money and Finance for the Creative Industry” where attendees will not only learn the how’s and why of financial budgeting, but you will leave with an actual budget for your agency.

 Click here to find out more and to take advantage of early bird discounts.

Register Now!

If you are not sure if these two days are worth the investment, give me a call. —(623) 825-3827—
I am looking forward to seeing you in Las Vegas in April! Don’t miss out on the Special Pricing for the first TEN registrations!

4 Changes To Get Out Of Your Rut

It doesn’t rain often in Phoenix – the city I call home. The remnants of a Pacific hurricane made its way to our city. And it rained. The kind of cloudy, drizzle that kicks off Fall and makes you want to curl up with a good book – not work. That particular day, I found myself working on a tight deadline. The weather was so distracting that I found myself looking out the window more that I worked on my project.
I began to search for ways I could improve my focus and productivity even while staring distraction in the face.
While my mind wondered, I thought about a conference I went to several years ago where Erik Wahl, an artist, and motivational speaker spoke. In this particular presentation, he mentioned he practices something he calls “Crazy Daddy Day” with his children. The idea was that when their life got in a rut, he would unexpectedly put Crazy Daddy Day into effect. The only rule for the day is that everything happens backward including eating. Dessert first, then working their way into the spaghetti and meatballs and finishing with the salad and soup.
Last week, Aleksander Olic published a post entitled A Different Kind of a Productivity Hack suggesting something similar. The post recommends doing things differently when you need a boost in your productivity.
The concept behind both of these is change. By doing things differently – mixing things up -makes it easier and faster to accomplish your task.
Here are some ways I use to get motivated. I share them to help inspire your creativity and get you out of a rut.
1. Go for a walk – or have walking meetings

Nilofer Merchant’s TED talk made a strong case for this type of one-on-one meeting style. Meetings taken out of the office have been shown to increase employees’ creativity and focus. Why?
Perhaps just getting out of the office takes you out of the box, creating the environment for out-of-the-box thinking. It may be just getting the blood flowing to the brain or the change of scenery, but it does work.
Merchant points out that we now sit for 9.3 hours each day which is more than the 7.7 hours we sleep each day. This sedentary lifestyle has been shown to cause blood clots and linked to some types of cancer and heart disease.

2. Implement No Meeting Days

Taking a day off from meeting gives everyone a guilt-free opportunity to get their actual work done, the ability to focus, and encouragement to start more ambitious projects. Just knowing that your day will not be interrupted by a meeting provides more mental focus. And, when your mind knows that the day will not be broken up, it naturally wants to focus on more daunting and challenging projects that require mental concentration and focus.
Your agency won’t be alone if you implement this practice. You will be joining Facebook, Asana, and Kiva all of which have no meeting days in effect and have experienced a significant productivity boost.

3. Mix up your Mix

Sometimes, just changing the type of music you are listening to will change your way of thinking. When you hit the afternoon “I need a nap” frame of mind, pick up the beat. Higher beats per minute will increase your energy level. Also, classical music has been proven to increase brain function and improve performance. Another study showed that playing nature sounds in an office environment could improve your thinking skills and mood. Mix them all together and you end up with something I’m coining ‘Classirapture’! Or, better known as noise!

4. Lego of Stress

We all love to play with stuff, so why not bring the stuff into the workplace. Lego is the perfect addition for any office because it is a low-cost creativity booster. There are those who may think Lego’s are childish and have no place in the work environment. Adding them to the environment has proven to help with problem solving and searching to solve problems.
They are fun and inexpensive and can help with storytelling or to describe problems. These little blocks can deflect a lot of pressure and move your brain back to a more playful state. Creating physical models help people visually think about problem-solving. It is safe to say Lego itself is more stimulating and creative than a PowerPoint presentation or a spreadsheet.

We often associate change with slowing us down due to learning curves and getting used to new processes or places. It is interesting that sometimes change can make us more creative and productive!
We all have our secrets and tips that work for us.
What works for you?

5 Simple Changes to Improve Communications

Remember when the BlackBerry was such a hot item? So much so, it earned the nickname “CrackBerry”. The company’s stock peaked in 2007 at $236 per share. It has started this week at less than $ 7.50 per share.
The reason for its loss of value was not because mobile phones or devices were a passing fad. In fact, there are 7 BILLION smartphones in use today across the globe. That is one per living person in the world! This number contrasts sharply with only 122.3 million in 2007 when BlackBerry hit its highest stock price.

So what caused this once behemoth to fall from being the pioneer and leader of its industry and losing 95% of its value in less than a decade?

The answer: ineffective communication.

Ironically, leaders at Research In Motion (RIM) – BlackBerry’s parent company – could not sustain open and honest lines of communication with their internal teams. The employees did not raise any red flags as deadlines were repeatedly missed. This lack of information prevented the powers that be from solving the problem – let alone even knowing of the issue.
painters-houseIt is like the old sayings: “The painter’s house is never painted” and “The cobbler’s son never has shoes.” We are in the communications industry – as much if not more than BlackBerry – and yet we are the worst communicators. If you find that your agency could improve communications, here are five easy ways to improve your communication skills.

  1. Have a ‘Stand-Up Meeting’ every morning. This meeting should be no more than 10 – 15 minutes and no one sits down to ensure its brevity. Use this time with your team to talk about what is on their plate for the day. It is a great opportunity for everyone to get on the same page and identify any issues with deadlines or workload problems. It is also a way to keep everyone accountable for their commitments.
  2. Document communications. Do not document to “CYA” (cover your assets), but it serves as a reminder to everyone,the discussion that took place. How many times have you committed to something when you pass someone in the hall? Then, by the time you get back to your desk, you have already forgotten it. Having a centralized place everyone can access to record these commitments not only reminds you of your obligation but also keeps everyone in the loop.
  3. Assess your current communication methods. While email and messaging have their place, they may not always be the best means of communication. For one thing, this opposes # 2 on this list in documenting the conversation. Also, some personalities are not prone to read a lot of emails – and those personalities tend to dominate the creative industry. Additionally, they are not accessible to everyone who may need access to that information. It is imperative to implement a tool that allows you to communicate easily with each other, document those communications, organize the communications in a logical and easy to understand way, and allows easy access to the communication history.
  4. Do not attempt to have your systems replace all communications. The biggest reason for the failure of implementing systems that I have observed is when the shop tries to replace face-to-face communications with a system. A system is a tool. Use the tools to help you communicate and to document those communications. Continuing to discuss one-on-one allows the sharing of the emotions and tone of the conversation.personality-type
  5. Know your personality types. This industry consists of every possible personality type. Add to that the stressors we face each day, and you have a time bomb just waiting to explode. Knowing what personality you are communicating with makes it easier to understand how to connect with them. Assessments such as the DISC Personality Profile are tools that can help your team better understand how to communicate and work together more effectively. If you are interested in having the DISC Personality Profile conducted for your team, Agency ADvisor can help.

Most important is that your shop doesn’t lose its core value and the culture that makes it unique. There are many tools out there which can help with communication. Excellent communication is a quality that successful businesses have. It is worth the time and effort spent improving communication to keep the great talent that makes your shop who and what you are. I promise – this is an investment you cannot afford to pass up!