The Shrinking Economy

Lessons From the Front Lines

hit last year. “No one could be totally prepared for the economic downturn, but I believe we were better positioned than most because we never got beyond our means,” says FUSE Chief Executive Clifford Franklin, adding that his company gained business from Jamba Juice, the National Education Association, and project work from State Farm.

Last year was a good year for Southfield, Michigan-based GlobalHue (No. 1 on the BE advertising agencies list with $483.5 million in billings) which not only signed the Chrysler Group as a client, now handling its Jeep Global Brand account, but was named Multicultural Agency of the Decade by Adweek magazine (see Advertising Agency of the Year). Says CEO Donald A. Coleman, who has developed a series of partnerships and entities as a means of serving different market segments, “I think we were more prepared for the downturn than most. We’re staying ahead of the curve. We made money and we didn’t spend it all. I invested in our business so we were ultimately getting better.” Here are a few more of their survival tactics:

1REINVEST. In order to stop financial hemorrhaging, ad agencies must take calculated steps, says Greg Head, president of HEADFIRST Market Research Inc., such as reinvesting in their company via employee training and development; only acquiring businesses that are profitable; driving more value and profit via existing business; telling a better story about the importance of the African American consumer; cutting unnecessary spending; and overall, just managing their business better.

“As we’re coming out of this recovery phase, consumers will never be the same. They will probably keep their belts tightened for a while. You must keep that in mind when communicating with the consumer,” says McGhee Williams Osse, co-CEO of Chicago-based Burrell Communications Group L.L.C. (No. 4 on the be advertising agencies list with $180 million in billings).

3 EMBRACE SOCIAL MEDIA. Fully integrating digital media in client pitches and throughout the company is another viable technique that ad agencies must implement. As social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook continue to grow in popularity

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