What really goes on behind the scenes of a successful agency

What goes on behind the scenes of a successful agency, or any business, should always be fueled by a big reason to run such business in the first place. What I call the WHY. Revenue and profit cannot be the WHY. That’s not why we run a business. Revenue and profit are like petrol for cars. We don’t buy cars so that we can put petrol in them. We buy cars to go places and petrol is what cars need to get there. Businesses are the same: we don’t run our business to drive revenue and profit, we run our business for bigger reasons, bigger WHYs that help us build remarkable businesses. Revenue and profit are just one of the things businesses need to get there.

Building something remarkable isn’t easy; you will find challenges and obstacles that will set you back, keep you up and night and make you wonder what you’re doing all of that for. That’s when you need a big, strong and powerful WHY. People who win are often not those with the better ideas, not those with more resources and not those with the better talent. People who win are those who don’t quit, those who keep going when the going gets tough. And the only force that can keep us going when the going gets really tough is having strong reasons to keep going: strong WHYs.

At Genie Goals, our WHYs are:

  1. To truly revolutionise the digital marketing for our customers and improve the reputation of agencies
  2. To create the best possible environment one might want to be in. We want to surround ourselves with people we admire, who inspire us and who we like spending time with.

So everything that goes on at Genie Goals is geared toward achieving these two WHYs. It’s an ever-iterative process, we evolve and adapt continuously. I am a strong believer that businesses, and individuals, should be obsessed with their goals but very flexible about how they get there. Being adaptive is one of the most important attributes a business needs.

What remains consistent, the number one asset of the business, is the people that work in it. With the right people, you’ll go through hell and come out stronger. The wrong people will drive you to jump off the walls of heaven. We work hard to create and maintain a culture and a recruitment process that attracts the right people. To understand who the ‘right people’ are, one needs to answer the following questions: What are the ‘must-haves’? Outside of specific roles one might be recruiting for, what traits must people exhibit to fit in with the organisation?

At Genie Goals, we talk about ‘being a Genie’ or ‘exhibiting the Genie Behaviours’: a short list of attributes that help indicate whether a person might fit in well in our company.

Attracting the right people isn’t enough of course. We need to keep them progressing and evolving. You must assist them, help them learn, give them the opportunity to grow and become autonomous.

In his TEDGlobal 2009 talk “The puzzle of motivation”, Dan Pink argues that financial incentives are not only ineffective at improving performance but produce the opposite result and hurt performance. In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink argues that the key factors that truly motivate people are:

  • Purpose
  • Mastery
  • Autonomy

The company big WHY should satisfy the purpose. Training helps people become masters of their trade which in turn, together with healthy company culture, helps them achieve autonomy.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that successful organizations invest heavily in and focus massively on their people.

We invest a great deal of time and resources in client services and delivery of course. The type of marketing that we offer is both very strategic and very technical. We, therefore spend a considerable amount of time and energy on our customers, not only working to deliver on the hard KPIs, but also talking to our them to understand their ever-changing challenges and ambitions, finding solutions and continuously ask ourselves: what can we do that nobody else is doing?

And we treat our own business the same way. We feel, and the numbers and awards we won suggest we are somewhat correct, that Genie Goals are leaders in digital marketing for the retail sector. To get here we worked hard, but to stay here we need to keep evolving, improving and solve bigger problems. What do we need to do to stay ahead of the competition and remain remarkable?

Because of the ever-evolving nature of both the industry we operate in and the way we run our business, testing and experimenting is at the core of what goes on behind the scenes. Inevitably, this means making mistakes, learning and coming up with better ways.

So, although the final result, the output that others see, is a trendy looking organisation, full of young talent with cool brands in our portfolio, behind the scenes there’s a machine that powers that ship. Like any good machine, it’s full of nuts, bolts and moving parts that sometimes break. Mechanics rush there, fix the parts and the rush somewhere else to fix something else.

We, the passengers, don’s see any of that, we just see the ship moving.

Like this? Loads more in my book, THE AGENCY.