I hate to say it, but the best content strategists I’ve known can churn out the best advertising copy in five hot minutes. It’s innate, which is why messaging is a requirement with every digital strategist we hire. The best developer I know taught himself how to code. The best writer became Managing Partner. The best people at an advertising agency, period, are a curious, passionate, smart, and creative lot.
Just like business development, you cannot explain this X-factor, nor can you give a book to any one of these people to “make them good at it.” This is just something we, as experienced business owners, have learned the hard way. My first goal with a new hire is to find out what that person loves to do. And they are not introduced nor given a formal title until I find this out. It may take days or it may take weeks.
This may only be in my industry, but when you assign someone to a role they are passionate about, they give clients next-level deliverables. And there is no deliverable that is perfect. When it’s intellectual property, it can always, always be better.
With recruiting, we business owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs take these leaps of faith, and when someone doesn’t respect or understand how hard you’ve worked for your company reputation, there will be turnover. When someone does not respect how hard you’ve worked to create a successful business, he or she won’t respect how hard our clients have worked for their reputations as well.
There are only eight hours we have to work with. The longer you keep these disrespectful employees around, the longer your client will eventually suffer due to the time going to this employee instead of them. I want to flip the word ‘turnover’ on its head because at RCM, I can say the sole reason for turnover has been my decision and not theirs. I’ve learned the hard way that yes, people make things up on their resume and they can have someone else do the creative tests we require to even get a phone interview. Character is everything, and you can’t test for that, nor can you test for work ethic.
Clients see turnover as a bad thing — especially in our industry where collaboration is key — and I see their point. Who wants to re-educate a new person? This is why I don’t introduce any new employees until they’ve spent a month in the trenches, just producing work that I can judge. All their work goes through me, as our managing partner once said to the team, “Whenever I get something to approve, the first thing I think is ‘would Annie approve this?’. And if the answer is no, everyone knows to go into a meeting as a team to next-level it. As a creative agency, we don’t have ‘set’ meetings; we have ‘team’ meetings–there is a big difference to me.
And I don’t like firing people. It sucks. (Most of the time.) It’s always personal to me both because of the employees’ welfare but mainly because I know I will resent the amount of time I’ve invested in that employee. It could have gone to a client instead. I groom every new hire at Rock Candy Media, and I expect to because we just truly do not have a mold of any kind. I can’t take even the best people from another advertising agency and expect them to take off. The ‘grooming’ part is essential. We are the farthest thing from a factory of any kind. Every client has short-term and long-term goals, and all of their benchmarks are different.
I tell my employees that our clients’ are our bosses, and late at night I also know that I pay for their groceries. So hey, regular (and maybe smarter) people out there, business owners aren’t getting their nails done or perfecting their golf swing. Take your smartest friend and he will never understand one day in your shoes. Our clients will and I never take that for granted. They will never know how much you truly are chained to your business, but I hope they at least understand that if our client’s not happy, they go first. As a business owner who tells it like it is, and is direct, there are simply no excuses to not know or forget my standards. Fits need to be more precise, and if they’re not, like I said, it’s hard to force it.
Clients are uncomfortable with turnover, but I do it for them. They are the reason Rock Candy Media even has a reputation and a great one at that.