— by Jean-Marc Demers, Braque, Montreal, Canada
One of the most important reasons to affiliate your agency with an association of independent agencies like Taan Worldwide is the privilege of connecting with your peers. Being able to meet with fellow agency principals is invigorating and invaluable, and especially more so in a non-competitive environment such as Taan. Don’t get me wrong, there is tremendous value in meeting local agency owners in your community or your state, but one cannot afford as much candor when dealing with the folks you compete with on a daily basis.
Why I decided to join Taan
It’s lonely at the top. Being a single owner of our agency, I felt I needed to reach out to my peers in order to get better at what I am doing as a leader, and better at what we’re doing as an agency. I have been a member of a regional association for a number of years; I also joined several business groups, but none of these organizations could allow me to be completely transparent about challenges, goals and concerns, with people from that same reckless industry that is advertising. Some 10 years ago, our team made a complete review of all independent agency networks out there. We felt Taan Worldwide was the right fit for us, with its global footprint, its focus on creativity and the warm, unselfish approach embodied by its president, Peter Gerritsen. Over the years, Taan Worldwide has allowed me to grow into a better leader, and Braque into a better agency. The return on our investment is undeniable.
How I prepare for my Taan meetings
It all starts with the Agency Report. Fill it with the right information, and it will feed insightful discussions over the course of the next meeting. I try to lock my agenda ahead of time for deep thinking on what’s going on at the agency, to be able to tell a meaningful story. What are my current nagging concerns and challenges that are burning? What are those issues that can’t be readily answered on the Taan Slack channel and that keep me up at night? I try to be as candid as possible: The Agency Report is not a scorecard, it’s a snapshot of our agency lifecycle and it’s an abundant source of conversation starters with other attendees.
I get a head-start on the news cycle and read through all agency reports submitted by the other Taan members. If they’ve done the legwork (see above), I can draw parallels between our agencies and that could be the start of a group discussion that could eventually lead to ideas and solutions. What have they tried that worked? What have they tried that did not? Are they growing fast and experiencing hiring issues? Are they losing clients and morale? Are they going through a partnership crisis? Are they planning to merge or sell? Getting the inside scoop allows me to prepare for one-on-one discussions that I absolutely need to put on my agenda during the meeting.
I want to arrive with an open mind, and open ears. So much valuable information and so many insights will be shared, I want to shut off any outside interference and focus on people and content. I clear my agenda of calls, deliverables and anything not related to the meeting.
What I am looking to get out of my meeting
The week back from a Taan meeting is a week of action, where ideas take form and tough decisions are made about the business. Stepping back from the fray for a few days, immersing ourselves in an environment dedicated to agency owners and principals is a boon for strategic thinking. I arrive at the meeting full of questions and few solutions, and I usually come back with clear objectives, a path to achieve them and insights on the do’s and dont’s strewn along the way.
We’re not alone. This realization helps going through some of the toughest patches. It’s not easy to reach out in times of doubt, yet Taan meetings are the best place to help get a better perspective on answers and solutions, no matter what stage of growth (or lack thereof) you’re at. There’s always someone in the room that’s been through the same challenges you have, so plan on sharing a drink with that person.
I get so inspired, seeing these fellow agency owners sharing their plans, ideas and successes, Taan meetings are addictive. The displays of creativity, vision and determination from Taan members spur me into fulfilling myself even more.
It may seem technical, yet it is incredibly useful to share insights into best practices, tools of the trade and processes with fellow members. What’s your project management software? What benefits do you offer your employees? How do you perform the evaluation of your agency? How do you up-sell to procurement? Whether it’s content dispensed by experts invited by Taan or from fellow members, just being there to hear it may unlock unforeseen benefits for your agency.
There is nothing quite like the fraternity of Taan members. The bonds we weave at every meeting endure through the years and enlighten our otherwise relatively mundane lives. I look forward to hearing from folks from all over the world, from Orange County to Singapore, through Glasgow, Beirut and Atlanta. Such different people, yet we realize at Taan meetings that we are all so very much alike. And we all get stronger by simply getting together.
Want to read more about “Why Taan?”– click here