Don Mock 0:20
Alright, episode two,
Rob Broadfoot 0:22
episode two, we didn’t really think about a name, but what about “Learning How Not To Build An Agency”?
Don Mock 0:31
I’m okay with that. Learning how not to build an agency? Yeah. Alright, so I think yeah, on Episode one I had made the mention about, you know, leaving and excuse me starting our own firm.
Rob Broadfoot 0:45
Don Mock 0:46
Cough break, and how we kind of started to get that vibe of learning.
Rob Broadfoot 0:51
We could call that a cough drop.
Don Mock 0:52
Cough drop. I like that. Yeah. See, that’s some smarts are happening on Episode Two here. No, about making the mention about not learning anything anymore and learning more of what not to do instead of learning how to do things, right. And a lot of that takes place in large agency land, right. So I think I’m going to ask you the question, Rob, like, what not to do, or any funny, large agency stories about, you know, interesting experiences or strange clients or whatever, whatever pops to mind in terms of how not to handle things?
Rob Broadfoot 1:25
Sure. And I think I think when you think about this education that we were both getting, neither of us, well I know speaking for myself, I had no idea at the time I was learning what not to do. Yeah, I didn’t file it as I’m acutely aware that I’m getting an education right now.
Don Mock 1:42
Rob Broadfoot 1:42
This is, I’ll go back to when I was working media for a large agency in town. And it should be noted that this was one of the, I guess, largest two agencies in town. I think it’s important, just from a size perspective. And I think we had, you know, four floors at the time, in this building and
Don Mock 2:00
Rob Broadfoot 2:00
and bodies everywhere. And so I remember when I first got there, I went to my floor, which is the media floor.
Don Mock 2:09
Rob Broadfoot 2:10
And, you know, they gave me the tour of all the different floors.
Don Mock 2:12
Okay, is it the bottom floor?
Rob Broadfoot 2:14
Yeah, of course, we’re the media guys, and gals, we’re on the we’re on the bottom floor.
Don Mock 2:19
Rob Broadfoot 2:19
Put the creatives up top, actually, no, put the English the English account. You know, account planners, strategic planners, up top.
Don Mock 2:28
Rob Broadfoot 2:30
And I remember, I remember going through the agency and just being floored by like, wow, this is so big. And all these floors,
Don Mock 2:38
so many people,
Rob Broadfoot 2:38
so many people.
Don Mock 2:39
Rob Broadfoot 2:39
This is amazing. Like, what an incredible machine to be a part of this. This is amazing. And but then it quickly, I started to learn that like, Oh, I was making friends in the creative department and other departments. And in order to go talk to the account people, I had to go take an elevator and go to a different floor.
Don Mock 3:01
Rob Broadfoot 3:01
Of course, I could pick up the phone. If you wanted to go meet with somebody or have a conversation. You had to go to a different floor to go talk to somebody
Don Mock 3:08
It is kind of weird to think about being in the same building, though. And even calling people, you know?
Rob Broadfoot 3:13
Right, and so lots of folks. And so that was kind of, again, in hindsight, it’s like, wow, there’s a physical inefficiency there and a time inefficiency. Yeah. I think.
Don Mock 3:28
Yeah. I mean, when I worked at Turner, I mean, I didn’t talk about this last time. But I mean, I worked at Turner. I mean, you got CNN, you gotta, there’s buildings all over Atlanta, there’s, that to me makes sense. Like, oh, Cartoon Network is on fourth floor. And these guys are on this and that, but within the same company, it’s kind of feels very large and bureaucratic.
Rob Broadfoot 3:44
So that was that was one point for me. And then there was another point where it was I mean, we had massive, massive accounts. NAPA Auto Parts Bell South mobility back when that was a thing. Simmons mattresses, yeah. Big stuff. And when you lost one of those accounts, or the agency lost one of those accounts it was
Don Mock 4:06
dun dun dun…
Rob Broadfoot 4:07
Here comes the chopping block. Yeah. And all of a sudden, it’s dozens upon dozens upon dozens of people are, you know, fired on a Friday. And given given their pink slips to go home.
Don Mock 4:18
Was it really on a Friday, Friday was the day?
Rob Broadfoot 4:20
Friday was usually the day. Yeah, yeah, I guess they didn’t want disgruntled people coming.
Don Mock 4:24
I don’t remember that stuff. Okay.
Rob Broadfoot 4:26
But it was point being it was, wow, we’ve got all these big clients. However, if we lose one big client, we lose a significant percentage of our staff. And then the opposite was true. Oh my gosh, we won a big client
Don Mock 4:41
Yeah, let’s hire 30 people.
Rob Broadfoot 4:42
Time to go out and hire 30 new people. So there was a lot of ebb and flow of people coming employees coming and going.
Don Mock 4:50
Yeah, it makes sense.
Rob Broadfoot 4:50
And I remember that feeling of like, Oh, we lost a client and just that dread, uh-oh. Am I Am I good? Oh, no, I’m still working on this account, this account, this account. I think I’m Probably safe…not really sure. So I think that was another. That was another thing that I learned was I didn’t. Again, unbeknownst to me and in hindsight, didn’t want to have a place where it was so dependent on an anchor client.
Don Mock 4:50
Rob Broadfoot 4:51
To be able to retain staff and employees.
Don Mock 5:00
Rob Broadfoot 5:01
I didn’t want to pass that dread on to anyone else. Another funny anecdote. We had a big orange juice client at the time. And I remember we had in the media department, we were working on this, and we had all the spots running nationally, of course, and a spot we had two spots that ran on Ellen, daytime TV show. And the account director, came flying down the elevator one morning, and threw a tantrum about
Don Mock 5:48
Rob Broadfoot 5:48
A total hissy fit about how in the world could we run the spot on Ellen?
Don Mock 5:54
Rob Broadfoot 5:55
And I just remember my media director at the time, she was great. stood up, and I think the quote was, what do you think, lesbians don’t drink orange juice?
Don Mock 6:03
Rob Broadfoot 6:04
Which is total insanity. And I think that lesson was like, wow, there’s a lot of non common sense going on here. Like this is crazy. And account directors. And this isn’t an affront to all account directors of course, but that got in the way of what seemed to make sense in the best interest of the client.
Don Mock 6:26
Rob Broadfoot 6:27
So it was just sort of this weird, unnecessary layer that not only created an inefficiency, but was just flat out wrong.
Don Mock 6:36
Rob Broadfoot 6:38
So I don’t know what those were those were a few things that, and I can come back later and talk about how we kind of rounded the corner on some of the things but what about you?
Don Mock 6:46
Well, that kind of reminds me of like, one of the things I learned, I guess, in large agency land, too, was just actually how far removed the client is from the creative process. So to your point about the Ellen story, right? And the account director freaking out about, oh, my God, how could we run on this scenario? Right? It was amazing to me that, you know, clients talk to the account team, brief the project, whatever the case may be, right, the account team then briefs, the creative department after they schedule it with traffic and production, of course, right?
Rob Broadfoot 7:16
Don Mock 7:16
To launch the project, then it’s like, it’s an internal battle for jump rope and loopholes and things right, it’s, you have to create your creative strategy, and whatever your creative output is, whatever the assignment is, right? But then you have to, like internally sell that to your account team,
Rob Broadfoot 7:34
Don Mock 7:35
before that even gets to the client, right? And it was amazing to me how many times internally, great ideas would die on the vine or account people would just subjectively clip things because they didn’t like it, or they didn’t understand it, or whatever the case may be. Right? And it was, well, you know, you’re not actually the target audience, so you’re not actually the client like, how can you internally carry this?
Rob Broadfoot 7:56
Nor are you creative.
Don Mock 7:57
Yeah, exactly.Exactly. Right. So you know, you create these 10 little pieces of creative, you, you know, show them to the you know, you have all these internal jumps you have to go through right? Then you get past the account, folks, that’s got to go to the account director or whoever the case may be that might be pitching it, right? Maybe creatives are in that room when they get to show to the client, maybe not right? And then you got these interesting clients too sometimes where, you know, some of them are great and totally understand everything, some of them aren’t the target audience for their own projects and apply their own subjectivity to it, right, which is interesting. So you’ve got like two or three different hoops you got to jump through before it even potentially has the idea of getting a yes or no, I found that kind of bizarrely, incredibly inefficient, right. Instead of showing clients, you know, here’s a big creative output a bunch of different ideas, right and shepherding them through it. It was really more what the account directors enjoyed, you know?
Rob Broadfoot 8:54
Well, it’s almost like, right, it’s almost like there sometimes was this perception or misperception rather that the creatives are these wonderful, talented bunch of
Don Mock 9:06
Rob Broadfoot 9:06
weirdos back there, and they’re brilliant at making things look pretty and cool.
Don Mock 9:11
Rob Broadfoot 9:11
And right fund headlines and things, but they don’t, they don’t get the strategy,
Don Mock 9:16
Yeah they don’t understand strategy.
Rob Broadfoot 9:17
strategy, you know, they don’t understand that. And I think that, then just sort of rounding the corner on some of those lessons, I think, for us, and we never even really, it’s not like we set out and really discussed it. I think we both just knew we knew these things and kind of agreed with them. In other words, it’s not like we set out with a plan and said, You know what we’re going to do, we’re going to have this agency where it’s incredibly efficient, we’re going to design it that way. I think we both just intuitively understood how account management works understood how traffic works. Understood how media, understood all of the different parts of an agency, but then also had really learned unintentionally how debilitating of a process that can be and inefficient, and uninspiring.
Don Mock 10:07
I mean, I totally agree with everything I have to say. And another weird sort of side note that echoes on, it still happens to this day actually working with large agencies is like on set, doing the video, doing photography, doing whatever, right. And it’s, we’ve got our shooter, our director, or whomever, right, and their team, lighting, food stylist, whatever the case may be, right? You’ve got your clients, however many there may be and then you’ve got the agency, right. And it is hilarious to me that still to this day, large agencies won’t let clients interface with the creatives or with you know, whoever’s shooting
Rob Broadfoot 10:42
That are in the same room
Don Mock 10:44
legitimately in the same studio, right? So it’s Oh, no, no, no, no, no, the photographer can’t talk to the client who was standing 10 feet away from them.
Rob Broadfoot 10:53
Don Mock 10:53
They have to go you know, whisper. Okay. Okay, is the peanut butter cup in the right spot. And then have these people then turn around and tell, it’s so incredibly inefficient. It’s like watching a game of telephone happening. And it’s like, Hey, we’re all in the same room. Like we could all just talk about this together.
Rob Broadfoot 11:14
And that sounds like an exaggeration, but I promise you that literally is not. And we were we were talking about that with some guys just a couple of weeks ago.
Don Mock 11:23
It happens all the time. It’s totally insane.
Rob Broadfoot 11:25
It’s crazy. And I think also, too, it’s like, I mean, “A” why does the big agency do that? Well, there are a lot of different reasons that they do that. But yeah, one of them right. At the very top is billable hours, for sure. For sure. We have to charge by time, we have to charge by the hour, and the more people we have at the photoshoot the more we get to charge a client.
Don Mock 11:43
Absolutely, there are many, many meetings I was in where they’d have one client on one side of the table and the eight people on either side.
Rob Broadfoot 11:49
Don Mock 11:50
And I could literally see the client, like the gears turning in their head, like, what are all these people doing in this meeting? And why are they like, no one’s taking, like, Who are these people? They don’t even work on this business, you know?
Rob Broadfoot 11:50
Don Mock 11:50
But bam, that’s an hour for eight different people.
Rob Broadfoot 12:04
Don Mock 12:04
You know, charging by time, things like that. It’s fascinating. So
Rob Broadfoot 12:07
And I think also too for us, like, and I can speak for you on this, I feel like but we both really enjoyed doing the work.
Don Mock 12:15
Rob Broadfoot 12:15
And always have. And I think that we understood pretty quickly that the best way to get to the best work is to talk to the clients.
Don Mock 12:24
Rob Broadfoot 12:24
And understand what they’re thinking and what they want and what they don’t want.
Don Mock 12:30
Rob Broadfoot 12:30
And not have to worry about anything getting lost in translation, you know, playing the telephone game,
Don Mock 12:37
Rob Broadfoot 12:38
as it were.
Don Mock 12:39
Yeah, it’s to your point, I don’t know that we necessarily started out to build this efficiency model. And that was in the employee handbook on day one where we wrote the business plan.
Rob Broadfoot 12:49
The business plan you mean? Very extensive.
Don Mock 12:50
Yeah. But it just kind of naturally, organically call it common sense, right? in terms of what’s what’s in the best interest for not only the client, but sort of the mission-objective for the creative output itself. It just, they naturally tie together in terms of having direct access to the people actually working on your business seems to make a lot of sense.
Rob Broadfoot 13:09
Don Mock 13:10
Rob Broadfoot 13:11
Yeah. Efficiency is king. I think we say it all over our site.
Don Mock 13:14
Rob Broadfoot 13:15
And I think that if you had to, if you had to package up all the lessons that we learned about how to not build an agency, I think that you’d put them under that umbrella.
Don Mock 13:24
Rob Broadfoot 13:25
The inefficiencies that we saw on so many levels.
Don Mock 13:28
Any other wacky large agency stories, what not to do?
Rob Broadfoot 13:35
Get caught making out with one of the employees in an elevator.
Don Mock 13:38
That will do it.
Rob Broadfoot 13:39
I wouldn’t recommend that.
Don Mock 13:40
That’s definitely not, not in our business plan, either.
Rob Broadfoot 13:43
No, I wouldn’t recommend that.
Don Mock 13:48
Rob Broadfoot 13:48
That was weird.
Don Mock 13:51
Oh, I love it.
Rob Broadfoot 13:53
There you go. Sound Effect. And what about you anything else come to mind?
Don Mock 13:58
No, I think you know, it’s, again, to your point, Rob, it’s all about efficiency. I just remember, you know, to your point of being enthralled with all these people and all this stuff, right? It’s just the big floor of Oh, my God, look at all these people doing all these things, right?
Rob Broadfoot 14:13
Don Mock 14:13
But then being a creative director at one of those large firms and realizing that there’s 100 people on this floor and like 12 people actually do all the work, like everyone else is really just a function of the process.
Rob Broadfoot 14:23
Don Mock 14:23
Right, I mean, I’m excluding like HR and finance and things like that, like, but just from a creative aspect, just a client servicing, business needs, right. It’s like, you know, 12 people, I just remember being so incredibly frustrated with man, I’m in an airport, designing things on a trackpad on an old, gigantic suitcase of a MacBook, you know, and nobody back at the ranch can do this, you know? And it’s like, no, there’s like 10 people that basically do all the work, the rest of them aren’t doing anything. They’re just, they’re just scheduling things and pushing the work through the, you know, through the machine, if you will, right. So it’s just incredibly disappointing.
Rob Broadfoot 15:01
And I think also too, and when you think about when you think about big agencies of the past and when I was there and in the in the aughts in the 2000s, the late 90s, remember the trend was I mean, there was so much money flying around.
Don Mock 15:16
Oh god that 90s money.
Rob Broadfoot 15:18
Oh my god,
Don Mock 15:18
The end of the 90s and early aughts.
Rob Broadfoot 15:20
Hey everybody, we just got four new pool tables, there’s a foosball room now, we’ve got every, every a full bar set up everywhere.
Don Mock 15:28
Did you guys have webvan deliveries?
Rob Broadfoot 15:31
Don Mock 15:31
Yeah, we had webvan come into the office.
Rob Broadfoot 15:33
Yeah, we used to have,
Don Mock 15:34
Like a refrigerator full of Starbucks frappuccinos.
Rob Broadfoot 15:37
Nobody paid for lunch, we didn’t pay for lunch.
Oh yeah, that’s a good point.
And then and then it was a given that like, because we were right in, right on Peachtree and what’s that behind it where all those bars and stuff are? I forget what that, they call that.
Don Mock 15:52
Well, now it’s called streets of Buckhead. Is that what you’re talking about?
Rob Broadfoot 15:56
No, back where like cosmopolitan and all. No, no. Oh, I don’t know. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Point being we used to have these just gluttonous happy hours, like three or four days a week. Where the company paid for everything.
Don Mock 16:08
Rob Broadfoot 16:09
And so I think you, so you saw that with all this extra money. And it’s funny, because then you saw that same thing happen too it now at like, all the Silicon Valley.
Don Mock 16:18
Rob Broadfoot 16:18
And they’re all trimming the fat now too. And it’s, everybody kind of swells, and it’s very gluttonous and, and then kind of comes back down to earth, so. We will buy you lunch if you come to our agency. I don’t want you to think that there’s no food in the fridge.
Don Mock 16:32
For sure. For sure. Yeah, yeah. It’s it’s interesting to think about just pull the memory strings here on what it was like in large agency land.
Rob Broadfoot 16:44
Don Mock 16:44
You know what I mean? Versus kind of our business model and how we approach it.
Rob Broadfoot 16:48
Yeah, and we’ll dive into some of those specific things as we go down the podcast road.
Don Mock 16:53
Yeah, I’ve got a great story about packaging and colorblindness. Remember that one?
Rob Broadfoot 16:59
Is that a tease?
Don Mock 17:00
That’s a tease.
Rob Broadfoot 17:01
Don Mock 17:01
maybe we’ll pick that up in the next episode.
Rob Broadfoot 17:03
All right. Well, until next time then, all right. Thanks, everybody.
Don Mock 17:06
Yeah play us out.
Rob Broadfoot 17:08
I don’t know who the everybody is I’m thanking
Don Mock 17:12
you don’t know who it is? the color blindness?
Rob Broadfoot 17:13
No, who the everybody I says thanks everybody.
Don Mock 17:15
Rob Broadfoot 17:16
Who’s the everybody. Anybody? Thanks anybody.
Don Mock 17:20
Rob Broadfoot 17:20