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The Importance of Agency Culture

The vision of an agency is powered by the energy of its people. Marrying the passion and talent of employees with the goals of the agency as a whole is the role of its culture.

Your culture is part of who you are and how you present yourself to the world. It’s your heart and it’s your vibe. As part of what drives people to do great work, a culture is both descriptive and prescriptive — defining where you are now and where you want to be. Leadership leads the culture not by dictating it but by living it. A healthy culture develops organically from within, but that does not mean that it should grow unattended. It needs to be carefully cultivated and nurtured. Everyone needs to be on the same page, working toward the same goal, or segments of the agency will start to grow in divergent directions.

Since the idea of culture is based on nebulous concepts like feelings and motivations, it may seem hard to nail down, especially if you are used to working with more concrete ideas like profit margins and other analytics that fit neatly into a spreadsheet. Agency culture includes the values, beliefs and behaviors that shape our relationships (internal and external), our work (type, quality and process) and our environment (physical and psychological). Values are at the core. They are what your organization considers most important. The values are reinforced by the agency environment. Anyone should begin to understand your culture the moment they walk in the door because the office reflects it and the people embody it.

Do the work; reap the benefits. Agencies with strong cultures:


Attract the right talent.
People understand their value and want to work at a place that will nurture their talents and allow them to express themselves creatively. Good people want to be at a place that takes care of them and that aligns with their own ideals and goals. You want to hire talented and insightful people who will help your business grow and these employees will be attracted to a place with a strong personality. They can’t know if they are going to fit in with your culture if you haven’t worked to define what that culture is. You will expect more of them but they will also expect more from you.


Partner with the right clients.
Culture is also part of what we are selling to a client. A brand will want to work with an agency where people are invested in doing a great job. Because the relationship between an agency and a client is a partnership, it is important to have a strong culture in place to ensure that an agency/client match is a good one. When an agency is upfront and communicates clearly about the type of work that they do and the culture that is in place to support that work, it helps establish from the beginning what clients will work well with the agency and makes for a more stable relationship.


Stand out in the crowd.
Culture helps an agency make its mark on the world. Many companies have similar capabilities, so culture can help you stand apart and give you something to be known for to attract future clients. A competitor may have the same products, services or processes, but they can’t duplicate your personality. Are you all about ROI or do you want to be known for innovative, out-of-the-box thinking? Your agency culture should reflect the answer to these types of questions and give you an edge.


Promote teamwork.
Not only does your culture help to set expectations for how people are going to work together, it also gives your team members a sense of working toward a common purpose. In order for a team to function properly, there has to be an element of bonding that happens between its members so that they come to trust each other. To be a real “team” and not just a bunch of people working in a group, team members must feel comfortable sharing skills, knowledge, ideas and projects and be secure in the knowledge that everyone is working toward the same vision built on a foundation of shared values and positive relationships.


Encourage creativity and innovation.
If employees are happy to be a part of your culture and are motivated by its values, they will feel freer to express themselves creatively and to take creative risks. Creating an intellectual and emotional environment that nurtures individuality and unique perspectives will help move your business forward, while an agency that doesn’t take the time to ensure their culture is one of trust and teamwork risks breeding complacency and a toxic devotion to the status quo. In this scenario, people may believe they don’t have a voice or that they may face consequences for dissent. Or they could simply be afraid to shake things up. This is a deadly environment for an agency where innovation and keeping up with a changing world are the keys to doing successful, impactful work.

Innovation is change and sometimes change is messy, so it is also essential to create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing doubt, are empowered to ask questions and are willing to make mistakes. Passionate people have a need to satisfy their curiosity and a desire to learn and improve. Promoting this type of culture is a benefit to everyone and helps the company grow.

A strong culture is a wise investment. Not only does it provide many rewards, it is also becoming a “must-have” in the eyes of the emerging workforce.

Top 5 Takeaways from Content Marketing World 2016

Did you know that Cleveland is the content marketing capital of the world? With last month’s Content Marketing World offering more than 80 speaker sessions and attracting around 3,500 attendees from over 70 countries, it seems safe to say that title is official.

One of our senior copywriters attended the world’s largest content marketing event and brought back a wide array of insights. For a look at what Carrie learned during her CMWorld experience, we’ve gathered her top 5 takeaways here.


5. Perform original research
In his keynote presentation, Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director of Orbit Media, delivered some great advice for turning mediocre content into great content: include original research in your content marketing plan. Andy explained that by making original research a priority, you can make your brand a “primary source for an important piece of data in your industry.”

This research can be accomplished in a number of ways. You can perform valuable research through observation, analyzing a chosen data set and presenting it in a new way. You can rely on aggregation, bringing existing pieces of information together to answer a question or solve a problem. You might also consider employing surveys to find an unanswered need or identify claims that have not yet been supported. Each of these avenues can lead you to produce the kind of original content that can help establish your brand as a thought leader.


4. Fill a content gap
Content creation is at an all-time high, but unfortunately, so is noise. In order to break through the clutter of abundant content, Andrew Davis, Founder of Monumental Shift, advised marketers to identify unanswered questions that are likely to resonate with your audience. With that knowledge guiding your approach, you can re-evaluate and revise your strategy with the goal of filling those content gaps.

By narrowing your focus to a specific, defined audience, your brand can create and distribute the kinds of content your audience may not even know they need — yet. Target the right niche with content that successfully fulfills an otherwise overlooked need, and your brand will be in an ideal position to generate valuable engagement and build a loyal audience.


3. Put your audience at the center of the story
Lars Silberbauer, Global Director of Social Media and Search Marketing at LEGO, gave CMWorld attendees an eye-opening early morning keynote. He revealed that LEGO’s fans actually create 20 times more content than the brand itself produces. And the company not only embraces this fact, but actively capitalizes on it.

LEGO’s content strategy is built on powerful storytelling, and fans are always at the very center of the company’s efforts. “Building Together” and “Pride in Creation” are the two core ideas that make LEGO’s content strategy so effective, encouraging fans to share their ideas, tell their own stories and celebrate their integral roles in the larger LEGO brand experience.


2. Slow down and empathize
No content marketing event experience could be complete without a session with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs. At this year’s CMWorld, she acknowledged that “marketing is impatient.” We tend to work at a rapid pace in order to keep up with news, trends and consumer demands. But she urged us all to slow down and ask “so what?” when developing strategy and content.

In fact, Ann advised that unless you’re willing and able to slow down and do your content marketing the right way, then you shouldn’t bother doing it at all. This statement echoed Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi’s opening keynote, where he told us, “If you’re not ‘all in’ with your content marketing program, you should stop.”

Slowing down is most certainly a key component of going “all in.” By taking the time to consider the kinds of content you’re delivering from your audience’s perspective, your team can develop a greater sense of empathy — a vital element not only for content marketing, but for your business in general. You want to be sure you are delivering genuine value to your audience, and if you follow Ann Handley’s advice, you can identify when your efforts aren’t aligning with your objectives so that you can correct your course and keep your content on target.


1. Find your why
One of the most powerful messages of the entire CMWorld event came from stand-up comedian Michael Jr. You might not expect a comedian to offer many relevant remarks to a room full of content marketers, but Michael Jr. certainly proved any doubters wrong. He applied the structure of comedic storytelling — the setup and the punchline — to the kinds of storytelling that can be done through content marketing.

Your setup consists of your opportunities, resources and skills. These are the things that can draw your audience in. But the punchline is where that setup must truly pay off for the audience.

In order to make your punchline worthwhile, Michael Jr. insists, you must find your why. While it is obviously important to know what you’re doing, it is just as important to know why you’re doing it. He explained, “You have a lot of options for what, but your why never changes. What is your why? Or are you too busy jumping from ‘what’ to ‘what’ to answer that question?”

Each of these points of advice is applicable not only to building and growing a content marketing strategy, but to any efforts you make for your brand. By performing research, identifying content gaps, telling audience-driven stories, taking the time to empathize and always focusing on the “why,” you can strengthen any initiative.

A Look at JetBlue’s “Flying It Forward”

Staying current and analyzing recent case studies allows agencies to broaden their thoughts on advertising initiatives and increase creativity with their own campaigns, especially when those campaigns come with restrictive or challenging guidelines. With that in mind, we’ve evaluated a recent campaign from a large company in the airline industry that tried something offbeat and proved that sometimes a fresh idea can lead to new business.

Shifting Focus

If you were given one flight to inspire humanity, where would you go? What would you do? These are the questions JetBlue passengers had to answer when participating in the “Flying it Forward” campaign.

The U.S. airline JetBlue was faced with increased pressure from its financial community to boost shareholder value. The best solution for this was to begin charging passengers for checked bags, which is something the airline had long avoided. In order to shift the focus to something positive, JetBlue came up with the Flying it Forward campaign.

In this social initiative, JetBlue started a “giving chain” by handing out a free flight to one deserving person. From there, that person had to “Fly it Forward” and give the free flight ticket to another deserving individual. The campaign sent positivity all over the world, showcased JetBlue’s destination options and overshadowed any concern for the new checked baggage charges.

Making an Impact

This campaign was successful in shifting the focus to positive aspects, while also showing off the airline’s range of destinations. It was also effective as it garnered very high participation levels and overall excitement. And probably the best thing about the campaign was the potential for longevity. Unlike many other campaigns that are strong but then fade out quickly, this one provided a continual source for content and customer connection.

  • Garnered more than 188 million total impressions, 1.5 million YouTube views, 60,000 site visits and hundreds of submissions
  • Secured a finalist position in the Shorty Awards (recognition for the best people and organizations on social media) for its Social Good Campaign & Travel segments
  • Increased brand consideration and ticket sales
So what can we learn from JetBlue?

This campaign demonstrates that in less-than-ideal situations, a company’s response doesn’t have to be about damage control — it can actually be an opportunity to build something new and foster brand affinity. We can also learn from JetBlue that campaigns don’t always have to be short-lived, which helps you build your brand and conserve resources like budget and creative content. Lastly, JetBlue’s campaign teaches us how using advertising to elicit specific feelings from customers can actually have direct ROI on sales and brand loyalty.

What do you think about the campaign approach? Comment below.

Introducing Stephen Massien

GO2 Advertising recently added another asset to the team. Steve Massien joined the agency to fill the position of Director of Business Development.

An accomplished strategist, Steve has demonstrated expertise in developing effective brand and sales acquisition strategies for B2B and B2C markets. He has worked for large corporations, medium-sized companies and advertising agencies in a variety of roles and locations, molding him into a versatile professional. Roles he has mastered include: marketing management, pricing and product development, business development, account management, advertising and sales promotion, public relations, internal communications and executive management. His education includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University.

Steve has a positive outlook for GO2 Advertising and is very excited to get started. His plans include working with the management team to develop a strategic plan for new-client addition and long-term growth.

In his spare time, Steve enjoys the outdoors. Anything from hiking and biking to kayaking, he loves staying active. He’s also an avid reader and movie viewer, and he’s a self-proclaimed music aficionado in all genres except hip-hop and polka. He’s married with two children and two grandchildren.

GO2 wins 4 American Graphic Design Awards!

GO2 Advertising earned 4 Certificates of Excellence from Graphic Design USA’s American Graphic Design Awards™. This highly selective national award show recognized only 15% of the nearly 10,000 entries from design firms, ad agencies and corporations.

nucleus logo

The work that was recognized was our Nucleus logo for the Comcast Business division’s new asset management portal. Additionally, the judges also honored two Nucleus posters that were designed to build awareness for the new portal.


Feed Your Vision

GO2 also garnered awards for two projects for EyeMed, a division of Luxottica. Our Changing Reality direct mail campaign targeted insurance brokers and promoted the client’s vision benefits network. The other piece that received recognition was a poster promoting eye health and EyeMed’s site.

Changing Reality