Charles Darwin wrote that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” His theory posited that individual species would have to adapt in order to survive, and that natural selection—the so-called “survival of the fittest”—would weed out the species that failed to adapt to the changing environment.
Changes and trends in the small advertising/marketing agency business can be likened to Darwin’s theory of evolution in that smaller agencies are forced, by their very size and nature, to adapt—to evolve with the times—or become extinct.
At Pipitone Group, we have a mission statement—a mantra, if you will—that embraces change as a positive and necessary thing. “Always evolving, ever learning, constantly growing, by doing great work with great people.” Evolving, learning and growing are the traits of our company’s culture that have enabled us to reach our 20-year milestone. Over those years, we’ve grown a small design firm that started in an attic into a 32-person, fully integrated marketing agency.
Quick to adopt, quick to adapt
Long ago, we made the conscious decision to evolve our company as new things came along. We either hired talent or evolved our skills to match the needs of customers and the marketplace. You don’t have to be bleeding edge just leading edge to introduce these offerings to your clients. Such is the case with marketing automation, a process that is changing the way sales and marketing work together to nurture prospects through the buy cycle. In fact, that may be one of the most valuable attributes of a smaller agency—our ability to be more nimble, more adaptable than the bigger shops. Perhaps it’s been our best survival mechanism in the wild.
An article in Ad Age by Marc Brownstein, president of a small agency in Philadelphia, a few years ago described the notion of each of the different departments in a typical ad agency—design, content, account management, PR, production, interactive—as being individual silos in which talent was locked away, isolated from each other and inaccessible from the outside. He said that, if small agencies are going to thrive—in fact, survive—they had to break their talent out from their silos and integrate them with one another. In short, he believed that everyone in an integrated agency should have to learn each other’s crafts and work closely with one another—enough so that they could provide value to clients with a single message, executed across all disciplines.
We’ve blown up those silos, setting free our talent, and forming integrated teams that collaborate with one another to execute a wide range of offerings seamlessly for our clients. Besides yielding a better, more creative environment, integration has also established better working relationships and a higher degree of ownership and accountability for the quality of the end-product. Who benefits from that? We all do: the firm, our people, our clients.
In fact, we’ve taken integration so seriously that we’ve coined a new phrase for what we do at Pipitone. We InteGREAT! Integration at Pipitone Group means creativity, smarts and a sum that’s greater than its parts.
But is integration the best approach for all marketing firms in an age when everyone is trying to differentiate themselves? Is it better to be strong in each of the various offerings, or is it better to become known as “the” agency in town for web or for print ads, for example?
One of our long-time clients mentioned to me that she believes the future of B2B communications belongs to integrated shops. In her line of thinking, the tools might change but the agencies that take the broader view are best positioned to lead for their clients. We’ve taken that thinking to heart.
We’re always trying to be the eyes and ears of our clients — listening to what our clients need, proactively searching for what’s new out there and finding ways we can bring on board the right people or partner with other companies to be able to offer it. Adopting new technology, adapting our teams, changing based on our clients’ needs to deliver new ideas and new approaches for them—the very definition of evolution.
Evolution is working for us as a species — and it’s working for our clients. To learn more about our evolutionary philosophy and the way we inteGREAT, visit our website: www.pipitonegroup.com/approach
About the Author: President and CEO
Scott is highly regarded both locally and nationally for his creative ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. His eye for the smart implementation of creative design in collaboration with other marketing and communications strategies has helped Pipitone Group grow from a one-person shop located in the attic of his home to the worldwide corporate headquarters where 32 people do great work every day.