It’s hard to believe that my agency, Matter, turns 20 years old on April 1. That anniversary is an enormous source of pride for me and for everyone who contributed to our success along the way. Whether our expansive alumni network was with us for a season or a career’s lifetime, it’s been wonderful hearing from so many people about our milestone!
I’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years, and I’m recognizing our achievement by sharing some key takeaways gleaned from building and growing our agency:
1. Be focused on your people
Our trajectory of growth has always been fueled by honest, hard-working and committed employees — many of whom have been with us for five, ten or more years. Treat the staff right by providing them a path for learning, growing and recognition for their contributions, and they will deliver. Hire good people and the rest will follow. Nothing is more important than the people.
2. Be flexible
Twenty years ago, our agency went to market with PR and marcomm services. Since then, we’ve evolved significantly and now deliver wildly comprehensive programs encompassing PR, social, digital, video, content and much more. We paid close attention to the category all along the way and evolved ahead of our competitors — and we’re a better agency because of it.
3. Be willing to take a risk
We invested heavily in video services and staff, including a physical studio for dedicated creative shoots and a van for remote services. We acquired a search marketing firm, so we could offer our clients search expertise rather than learning the topic as we grew. We expanded geographically in the spirit of being within reach of clients and key audiences. And we invested in Matter sub-brands when we recognized we needed to tell our own story better. To grow like we’ve grown, you need to take some risks.
4. Be diverse
We found that by focusing on a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and skillsets, we’re able to better tell our story and support our clients. But to achieve it in earnest, you have to truly commit. Walk the walk and create a multi-year plan that has measurable metrics for diversity and inclusion. Contribute to improving the world by continuously striving to set and achieve D&I goals. Make it an agency-wide topic and keep at it — even when it’s more difficult than you expect.
5. Be mindful that it’s still a business and make sound decisions
Make good managerial choices. Hire when the time is right. Take on healthy work and don’t over-promise in the spirit of starting a relationship. Lay the metrics for agency performance on top of a generous employee benefits program. Be modest in your approach to spending and always be prepared to pivot in the spirit of strengthening your agency’s performance.
6. Be a partner to your clients
When you help your clients reach their goals, you can both thrive together. Aligned with your agency’s brand, make a meaningful impact and help your clients succeed through communications. Execute programs that drive your clients’ businesses forward. Communications results are meaningful when they propel and support business objectives. Never forget that.
7. Be enthusiastic – about everything
Celebrate programmatic success as much as client wins. Celebrate personal milestones of your staff, as well as their comings and goings. (If they’ve contributed to the agency’s success, a departing employee’s next step should be celebrated.) Life is short, so dig deep and find a way to be positive, encouraging and enthusiastic at every step of the journey.
8. And finally, be generous
We know we could do our jobs without having a charitable presence in our communities — but we also know we’re making a difference by doing more. Our employees strive to do good in the world, and spending in a charitable capacity supports the professional ideals of sacrifice and teamwork. Plus, the result of our volunteer efforts is often as grand as a programmatic home run.
It’s been an incredible 20-year run. What’s past is prologue, and I’m bullish for the next phase of Matter’s journey. To everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with over these last two decades, I thank each of you for helping us become who we are today. And to everyone currently dedicating their creativity, communications savvy and time to Matter’s growth, you continue to amaze me with your enthusiasm and ingenuity. Every day, you’re helping to inform how we can build a better Matter for tomorrow and beyond.
Matter is truly blessed with the best people, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.