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AdAge Small Agency Conference At-a-Glance

Last week AdAge hosted the 10th Annual Small Agency Conference, taking it back to where it all began ten years ago, New Orleans. As defined by AdAge, a “small” agency is defined as 150 employees or fewer. But, don’t let the word small fool you. These agencies are landing the biggest brands, pumping millions in revenue, and producing the industry’s most groundbreaking creative and experiential campaigns. The conference offers a platform for peer agencies to come together and discuss advantages and challenges small agencies face, while the Small Agency Awards offers a stage to recognize these game-changer agencies and the work they produce.

In the session Win More by Offering Options, Allen & Gerritsen President, Andrew Graff, discussed how implementing a pricing structure based on options has led to 16 new pieces of business in 2019 alone. Graff continues by calling out the elephant in the room … the idea that we need to move away from hour-based work as a community. He reminds us hours does not equal value and we need to think about scope management, not time management (#ElimateTimeSheets). His advice for implementing a pricing-option strategy at your agency is (1) determine your success metrics, (2) test and learn, (3) communicate what’s not working, and (4) stay committed.

Over the course of two days, attendees were inspired by talks from leaders like PJ Pereira, Founder of Pereira O’Dell, and his perspective on what’s changed in the past ten years since his agency took home the first Small Agency of the Year Award in 2019. Heavy hitter David Droga also graced the stage reflecting on Droga5’s upbringing as a ‘small’ agency and discussed his perspective on the Accenture Interactive deal. We also heard from a powerhouse panel featuring leaders from Circus Maximus, Verb, Third Ear, and Walrus, who addressed the new generation of small shops and how to build a durable agency.

The conference wrapped with the Small Agency Awards where Patrick Kiss, President of BSSP and 2018 Small Agency of the Year, gave a few words of advice to 2019 Small Agency of the Year JohnXHannes and presented a hilarious video. It spoofed Nike’s celebrated “Jogger” ad from 2012’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign, reworking the idea to highlight the noble struggles of small indie shops to “Find Your Smallness.” Find the list of all the 2019 Small Agency Winners here.

As an independent, small research firm, the conference was invigorating and reminds us of the advantages small shops provide clients. In the words of Founder Ryan Kutscher of Circus Maximus, “Small is the sales pitch for us.”

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