(Here’s part two of some thinking that can improve staff retention, lower turnover and make recruiting and new business easier for your agency.)
Once you admit your agency has an agency brand perception problem and have identified why it’s happening, you can do something about it.
There’s a whole lot of stuff you can do to fix a brand problem. And yes, this requires investment. But it will positively impact your top and bottom lines over time. Quantifying that impact needs to be a part of your business case to senior management / holding company overlords.
Here are just a few areas worth your agency’s time & money:
|HR Department||Training & Development||Empathic HR Policies|
|Award Shows||Agency Press||Endorsements / Social Proof|
|Event Sponsorship||Speaking Events||Social Media|
|Touchpoint Programs||Controlled Digital Snapshot||Uncontrolled Digital Snapshot|
Some of the above are obvious. Some, not so much:
Touchpoint programs. This is a catch-all for exploring an employee’s “journey” with your company. And then tweaking those spots a little bit. Sometimes, these kinds of programs garner trade press, which can always help.
Controlled vs. uncontrolled digital snapshots. These include things like your website and employment-related sites. You control how / what you say on places like Linkedin. You have less control over what’s said on Glassdoor. But your recruits and employees are paying attention, and will probably put more emphasis on sources over which you have little control. Here’s some smart thinking on how to improve Glassdoor ratings.
Do you need a happiness guru at your shop? Someone whose charter is to shape stakeholder’s perceptions of your agency? Hmmm.
Capture what your brand stands for
Good ol’ mission, vision and values thinking. Your agency’s manifesto. When I start a recruiting assignment, I sometimes ask for (but never get) an agency credentials presentation written for a key audience: potential employees. This is potentially a huge missed opportunity for you to attract terrific people!
Something to consider: a lot of mission / vision / value work feels too inspirational or too unrealistic. Is there a chance to add some accountability? Some authenticity? Some charisma?
Minimize the corporate speak, maximize your personality
We’ve been talking about HR stuff here. So there’s a necessary level of formality and corporate-speak. But we’re in the agency business. It’s supposed to be fun! And it can be.
Here’s one example of a Chicago-based company that does a pretty good job of balancing their brand with the HR stuff. An employee handbook. And a list of their benefits. Beautifully written. They make me want to work there. How does this compare with your company?
Recognize / celebrate / reward good staff behavior
So while you begin to uncover an agency brand problem and put in place an idea or two to help fix it, here’s something you can do right now that doesn’t cost too much: spotlight good things already happening. What is the equivalent of putting an employee’s name on the wall at your agency? What can you do that feels on-brand?
Amp up “potential brand impact” in corporate decisions and behavior
Just about any decision you make as a senior leader can impact your agency’s brand. Here’s a negative and positive example of an issue (client choice) that impact’s agency brand sentiment. And here’s a timely and positive example of a holding company on diversity and inclusion.
These are easy examples grabbed from just over the last month. But it’s more than just clients and your perspective on current events. Broadly thinking, it’s about the choices agencies make in how they treat employees, clients, suppliers, candidates and alumni.
Agency brand perception problems are fixable
Hope this has provided a thought or two you can use at your agency to address growing problems in our industry. Should any of it spark something you’d like to discuss, feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience. Thanks. And happy fixing!
Other helpful articles
- How HR can make your agency different and better
- How to earn more staff referrals and lower outside recruiting costs
- How to use agency credentials to attract and retain people
- How your agency’s HR function can be made more valuable
- How agency recruiters uncover passive candidates