Is the Independent Agency Network still relevant and important in today’s fast-paced, always changing communications profession?
Absolutely, if it is the right network for you and your needs.
While other networks team up to fight a never-ending battle against the large global holding companies, Taan Worldwide takes a different approach. As a network, Taan works hard to meet the needs of the best practitioners in our profession who seek the wise counsel from the experts around them.
The challenges for all of us evolve over time. Through our collective efforts in embracing new ideas and striving to improve what we all expect from Taan, we have made our network better. More importantly, we have strengthened each of our members through the sage advice of counsel and each other. We believe that innovative thinking amongst trusted compatriots offers so much more than going it alone. This mission is what we believe sets us apart from other networks.
The Import and Export of Ideas
Ideas and insights are the mainstay of our business. The value we provide our clients comes from consistently delivering solutions that can drive revenue. This is true for our agency members as well. The purpose of Taan is to bring, share, and build on the ideas that are exchanged among trusted sources, in order to grow each other’s company.
Taan Worldwide, as a network and our individual members, all need to be pushed. We need trusted advisors around us to challenge us. We have been connected to outside advisors and leading industry consultants for many years, just for this reason. We have listened and responded to the perspectives of Tim Williams, Jay Baer, Blair Enns, Pat Doody, Mark O’Brien, and many more. Each have brought ideas to be challenged, considered, revised, and adapted, all with the purpose of helping our members set objectives for future success and growth.
Over the past few years, we have implemented ways for us to exchange new innovations, tools, resources, and internal processes that we each feel could benefit others. We devote sessions at our meetings for members to present discoveries to the entire group. We arrange for webinars, case studies, research documents and reports to connect the best resources to our members. We all share links and contacts that could offer solutions to challenges each other faces.
When a group of peers are willing to cooperate for the common good of all in the network, the growth of the individuals and the entire network benefit from shared learning.
Advice and Challenges
Our group is best for each other because of the personal connections. This is why we meeting in person multiple times each year. There must be face-to-face interactions to build trust and cooperation. Trusted relationships cannot be only built virtually. We all need to create and maintain personal relationships.
The advice of peers within Taan is one of the strongest arguments for being actively participating in our group. There are few opportunities to confidentially share the “good, bad, and ugly” that each us face throughout our careers, in order to seek answers and perspective, within a safe environment.
Each of our meetings now devotes a significant amount of time to intimate discussions about issues and questions from each other. This gives each member the chance to dig deeper into topics. Raise questions for the group. And challenge each other for better answers.
Long term membership is more valuable than ever
The concept that network membership is less valuable over time is wrong. The bonds between members creates a value not found in other ways. Thorough understanding of each other enables easy and faster discussions that explore deeper challenges with each other’s business. The value of shared confidential thought and issues should grow exponentially over time. Familiarity only breeds complacency when everyone believes that challenges have been met (or worse, are insurmountable). We all know this is a never-ending battle to drive forward. In our view, having long-term trusted open communications with your peers is key to a successful Taan membership.
Taan Worldwide has taken on the challenge of reinvention and intellectual growth over the past years. We have been addressing many of these issues to further differentiate our network from any other. Of course, there is so much more to get done. There always will be more. And we realize that we need to move faster.
The most valuable networks have a global view
Taan Worldwide has grown internationally on purpose. We believe in embracing the wide world of cultures, languages, business processes, and perspectives that can only be gained through on-going interactions among peers that are not living in the same place. Our members’ clients seek to expand markets, and we can manage many requirements through our network. But, the real value is learning from others that are not like yourself.
The concept of boundaries have changed
Taan has pushed hard to remove boundaries based on geography. We view our “boundaries” this way: the separation between member firms is capability/expertise/audience-driven, though at times geographic separation also needs to be considered. This has allowed certain members within Taan to team up for new business pitches and/or help each other on certain types of projects.
Communication must always be local
There are tools and resources that can instantaneously translate between languages. These work quite well in many instances, but definitely are not perfect. And perfection is a “MUST” in creating marketing communications to individuals. As soon as there is a single word out of place, there is a barrier thrown up by the reader. The best solution is having experts immersed in the culture and region of the intended use. This can be done remotely, but it’s not as easy as many will lead you to believe. It’s certainly better having a “known” partner to help you.
Local and Cultural Understanding
If the language issue is solved, there still is the cultural one. This is a much bigger one to solve when not living in the in the middle of it, and is where the Taan network footprint is extremely valuable. Feet-on-the-ground help solve a marketer’s challenges in ways that fit the culture of the country. You get that through Taan members instead of relying on what you find via Google.
Business has cultural sensitivities
There are books and web sites that can give you the lay of the land in foreign places. But nothing is better than having your Taan “friend” be a guide through holidays and customs that would probably be overlooked, or never even considered, without this trusted “local” advisor the lead you through.
Independent Networks should be about common purpose
There are many different types, talents, directions, and missions among the networks that exist today. This is a good thing. Finding the one that fits best for your needs is a study in compatibility. The group that has a common purpose is usually the best measure. At Taan, we believe in the power of shared learning will benefit each member of the organization, and thereby increase the intellectual capital of the whole network.
Value is built over time
Unless you make toasters or software, longevity is important. Trusted relationships are not immediate. It takes time and effort. Relationship equity is a huge value of being a member of Taan. It is an investment that pays dividends over time.
There is and should be attrition within every network. But if the network has a strong core and a common purpose, attrition should not affect the value of the group. Those that don’t embrace and actively participate within the group will naturally fall out. There are merits in purposeful additions and subtractions for a group. The right new members will bring a continuous spark to the group. New ideas and new challenges to the expected only serve to evolve the organization.
Developing the right mix of Communication Experts
There is a lot to learn from some sharing among banks, bakers, and candlestick makers. But when you want to figure how to develop a new methodology for client engagement, testing your concept with peers who understand the communications industry and their country culture can save you time and money. At Taan, we believe that the best network is a mix of expertise, locations, cultures, and talents that all deliver solutions within the same framework of business.
This is why Taan started changing the member mix toward specialized expertise back in 2008. We saw that doing almost the same thing in every member’s office only breeds “best practices” — which really means “average practices” since everyone ends up implementing essentially the same thing. But when you learn about a new practice coming from a different business, there are elements that could benefit your own.
A wide variety of expertise within the same industry also expands each member’s capabilities to deliver integrated solutions for clients. You have network resources that are willing to help you best build your internal skills.
Even better – if you come up with a concept but are not sure how to implement it in certain geographies around the world, why screw it up internally? With Taan, you have experts around the network that will help you execute it for your client.
Perfection is a Goal, not a Finish Line
There will always be new ideas, technologies, and innovations that change the paradigm of what is considered the leading edge in our business. We believe that our efforts to constantly look ahead, exchange ideas about where is required for the new success, and never allow complacency to take hold, will drive us forward.
We have more work to do to meet the needs of the best agency practitioners in our profession who seek the counsel of the experts around them. We can’t help agencies who feel they have the answers. But we have a very important role in the careers for those who realize that answers can be found among trusted friends who are willing to share, and have a vested interest in growing the network for everyone’s benefit.
Our mission here in Taan Worldwide is clear. Deliver value to the individual members through forward thinking insights found around the world.