Heads up to agencies: Your business model needs an update. The needs of the workforce have changed—resulting in hundreds of vacant positions. The “pyramid” staffing structure itself is passe. Our guest Scott Gillum founded a new type of agency, for B2B markets, where employees are empowered to schedule their own workdays and trusted to produce their work “on demand.” He sees an agency like a professional sports team, where free agents sign up to deliver on specific client expectations. The result? Faster, lower-cost marketing results, enviable 86% client retention rates, and 100% employee satisfaction ratings on Glassdoor. Join us to learn the philosophy behind this new model, which could be a blueprint for the agency of the future.
Cyndi Greenglass: What is it about the current way marketing agencies work that you think needs fixing?
Scott Gillum: What got me on this path, was that I saw a report that said employees were not engaged at work. I got very curious and went on this quest to try to figure out what was going on. I have memories from my professional services days of people in middle management who left what was probably the most productive time in their lives, to stay at home with children or take care of a parent. They tried a hybrid approach as they were going to try to work but also take care of things at home but they never seemed to get that balance either. So maybe that’s not the solution either. Then, there were people trying to look for more meaningful work. All those things were kind of wandering around in my head when I got to this point in time when I had a chance to start something new and different. I noticed that millennials had a very different way of thinking about what they wanted out of life in a career, and they work very differently. I went on this exploration and read a bunch of books and talked to a bunch of people to try to figure out maybe we just need a new work model. The Monday through Friday, nine to five workday is a result from the manufacturing days, and it's over 100 years old and was built around electricity. Maybe that just didn't fit people anymore.
Cyndi Greenglass: Clients respect and want agencies that are deeply knowledgeable in their vertical segment. People who have been in their market and that bring a lot of expertise. How do the clients feel about your model?
Scott Gillum: We don't have a pyramid, and there isn't a leverage model here. We don’t have people right out of school working for us. On average they have 10-16 years of experience. We find people who have worked in that industry or in that business or in that particular technology area and we match them up with clients. We can't cover everything yet, but we are deep in about five industries.
Ruth Stevens: How is employee satisfaction working out for you?
Scott Gillum: We've always had this open channel communication of how we can be better. We did a work day study to really understand how people were working, and it was fascinating. No two people have the exact same day. The reason we did this study is that we're always trying to learn and get better about how we accommodate people's schedules and their life. We put our focus on life first and then work. Watching the behavior of the people we have working for us, I could see people working after hours, and I thought I was cutting into their family time and that to me was very important that we've allowed them to have that time. It turns out that was just when it was a good time for them to work. This gets away from the traditional straight eight hours. No one is consistently burning eight, nine, ten hours straight on work anymore. They have concentrated times of work and then life.
Key Takeaways/Three Little Piggies
- Agencies are going to embrace his idea as an additional option inside their agencies and not just a replacement for their traditional models. This approach is additive to the existing model.
- Think of your business like a sports team with talented athletes who have their own capabilities to offer.
- He found out through his research that no two people in the company have the same schedules, but they're all delivering great work. He has deliberately created a culture where this model can work and that comes from the top down. He has set a culture of empowerment and satisfaction for employees.
Marketing Communications Today presents Horizons, it’s forward-thinking, looking ahead, through the front windshield and beyond, into the marketing future. Join Cyndi and Ruth bi-weekly for new ideas, technologies, tools and strategies that are emerging to help marketers navigate over the marketing horizon.
Meet our guest
R. Scott Gillum is the founder of Carbon Design, a marketing services firm that specializes in personality-based marketing.
Prior to founding Carbon in 2017, he founded and lead the Washington, DC office of gyro. The largest B2B agency in the world and Ad Age’s B-to-B Agency of the Year.
At gyro, Scott led the global Channel Marketing practice, along with his duties as an office President. Prior to joining gyro, he was a partner at a management consulting firm specializing in Go-to-Market strategy for hi-tech clients. During his twelve years at the firm he worked with public sector clients on commercializing products and services.
Scott has had previous roles as the head of marketing of an Inc. 500 company, and as an interim CMO at a Fortune 500 company. Today, he works with clients improve the effectiveness of the marketing efforts up and down the funnel.
His work on integrating sales and marketing funnels is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study. Scott also partnered with Pat Spenner, co-author of The Challenger Customer to build a Challenger Marketing methodology for implementing insights from the book into marketing execution.
Scott writes a monthly column on B2B marketing for The Drum and his articles have appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Adage, the Huffington Post, Media Post, as many others. He is also a contributing author to several books on marketing.
Meet the hosts
Cyndi W. Greenglass is a founding partner and president at Livingston Strategies, a data-informed, strategic consulting firm that helps clients develop, execute, and measure their customer communications with a close focus on results. Cyndi has razor-sharp strategic skills matched by impeccable on-the-ground savvy and tactical abilities. She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Data Marketing Communications online master's degree program from WVU.
Greenglass has twice been named into the Top 100 Influential BTB Marketers by Crain’s BtoB Magazine and was the 2012 CADM Chicago Direct Marketer of the Year. She is a member of the Board of Advisors for BRAND United and has taught, trained and presented at over 50 conferences throughout the world.
Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, for business-to-business clients. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York.
Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the ERA business accelerator in New York City.
Interested in growing your career with a master's degree in Data, Digital or Integrated Marketing Communications? Request more information today!