4 Questions to Assess Your Ad Agency’s Readiness for Change

 “If all you’ve got is a spreadsheet filled with red ink and dire forecasts, it’s easy to be paralyzed by fear and resistant to change. But if you can summon some leadership nerve, then hard times can be a great time to separate yourself from the pack and build advantages for years to come.” Bill Taylor, best selling author Mavericks at Work.

Harvard Business Publishing, is part of my daily reading. An article I read this morning by author, Bill Taylor, “The 10 Questions Every Change Agenct Must Answer” was adapted for this post. I thought these questions were very applicable for small-to mid-size ad agencies in this rapidly changing and challenging new business environment.

Bill writes, “When it comes to creating the future, the only thing more worrisome than the prospect of too much change may betoo little change — especially in an economy where there are too many competitors chasing too few customers with products and services that look too much alike. Now is the time to rethink long-held strategic assumptions inside your company (agency), to challenge decades of conventional wisdom in your industry, and to push yourself to learn, grow, and innovate.

Here are four questions to help your agency face the challenge of change:

1. Do you see opportunities other agencies don’t?

Change breeds opportunity. Be the first to find new opportunities. Don’t play by the rules, unlevel the playing field and redefine the rules of the competition. Don’t wait for other agencies to lead the way, be innovative. French novelist Marcel Proust said, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”

2. Can your clients live without you?

 Our clients options are rapidly evolving. Ad agencies can no longer pretend to be all things to everyone.  The use of terms like full service, proprietary processes, great creative, strategic and integrated doesn’t mean anything anymore to prospective clients.  Agencies must specialize and create a strong appeal to a particular target audience. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one. Agencies used to be comfortable in the middle of the road. Today, the middle of the road is the road to ruin.

3. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?

Clients expect leadership. Currently agencies are behind the curve. To survive change you must get ahead and stay head of the curve. In a world that never stops changing, great leaders can never stop learning. How do you push yourself as an individual to keep growing and evolving — so that your agency can do the same? 

4. Are you consistent in your commitment to change?

The problem with many agencies is that all they do is change. They go from one consultant to another, from the most recent fad to the newest. If you want to make deep-seated change, then your priorities and practices have to stay consistent in good times and bad.

“If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”

Read Bill Taylors entire article: The 10 Questions Every Change Agent Must Answer

Additional articles that may be of interest:

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Well put – as usual. Yet another bucket of cold water in the face of status quo.

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