This article was originally published on January 18, 2018 on Forbes.com as a part of the Forbes Agency Council.
Whether you are an established agency or a two-person shop getting off the ground, the same rules can apply to smart business growth in 2018. You’re probably wondering what a "startup symphony” is — let me explain. A successful orchestra must keep in mind that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The musicians must complement and strengthen each other.
The same goes for marketing firms: Cross-discipline teams must work like a synchronized orchestra — independently, effectively and creatively — while remaining alert and ready to grow like a startup. Firms that can achieve this in 2018 will go on to do big things.
Adopt A Startup Mentality
Working for a startup keeps you alert, smart and always focused on growing past who you are today and what you think you can become tomorrow. Why? Partly because 50% of all new businesses fail within the first five years. Whether or not your business is a startup, you can apply this same mentality to your agency. Be nimble. Jump at the opportunity every day to be a better version of you. Motivate your team to work, read, learn and seek to become better than who they were yesterday.
Focus on working well together and following your mission in order to remain empathetic to each others' needs and your customers’ needs. And make an effort not to use these three words this year: “but,” “can’t” and “try.”
Move Your Audience
Agencies are people-first and customer-centric types of organizations. A good rule of thumb is for each of your disciplines across the agency to be obsessed with your customer. Who are they, what do they need from you and how are you over-delivering? Above all else, put them first — they are the reason you’re in business.
Once your teams understand your customer inside and out, you are able to deliver awesome emotional experiences for them. This is what brands need to be doing today to be successful. Like a symphony, music is one of the few things that can evoke some of the deepest feeling and memories in listeners. Aim to take your audiences on an emotional journey and you will succeed.
Just as the greatest musicians must have a passion for the arts in their DNA, authenticity must be a part of your DNA. Authenticity has arguably been the biggest factor in allowing startups to compete with better known, better-resourced giants. And according to a recent study, 63% of people would rather buy from a brand they perceive as authentic than one that isn't perceived as honest.
So how can you maintain authenticity as you grow? Recognize it but don’t overthink it. Appreciate your true core identity as a firm and protect and nurture it. Authenticity is something that should drive each decision you make. Believe in yourself, put the customer first, make high-quality decisions quickly and lean on the people around you.
A new year is a time to reignite passion and excitement for your business, which, in turn, is infectious and transmits to customers, staff and partners. Like a symphony conductor would say, go ahead and accelerato into 2018!