How to Get Your Agency in Check for Growth or Acquisition

December 01, 2021

According to Doug Baxter, CEO of Agency Futures, today’s marketing and advertising agencies are about to enter a “golden era” of new business potential and projected gains. Baxter speaks from deep expertise, running a company that specializes in helping agencies adapt and flourish as the marketplace changes. He was able to elaborate on his insights, and offer guidance on how agencies can best set themselves up for acquisition success, in a recent Deltek-hosted webinar Getting Your Agency in Check for Growth or Acquisition.

Few would argue that the past couple of years has been transformative for the marketing and advertising sector, but what’s noteworthy is that the independent shops are standing out, currently outperforming holding companies. This, combined with a projected 14 percent increase in global marketing spend for this year (which will likely be higher in 2022) is cause for both optimism and opportunity. That makes today, as in right now, an ideal time to take a close look at how your agency is working, and what it can do to really stand apart. 

Baxter highlighted aspects of agency operations that forward-thinking leadership should recognize and prioritize. He emphasized:

  • Retaining talent remains an imperative. Good people are an invaluable investment.
  • While welcome by so many, the virtual office presents genuine challenges to creating positive agency culture.
  • The retainer model is falling out of favor; in its place, look for project-stream relationships.

Getting Your Agency in Check for Growth or Acquisition

Gain insights on how agencies should prepare themselves to achieve growth.

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Along with these observations, Baxter emphasized the importance of data -- specifically the technical competency necessary to acquire and manage it. Agencies that take command of their data, facilitating workflow and client relations, stand the best chance of staying agile and adaptive. They will also maximize the effectiveness of their remote workforce; information is not worth much if it can’t get into the hands of the right people. To that point, Baxter urged agencies to determine their distinct data perspective, an understanding of the value they bring to how they acquire, interpret, and present data among their teams and with their clients alike.

Going forward, enlightened agencies will also make a commitment to:

  • attracting and keeping the best talent, 
  • softening the traditional management/talent hierarchy, and     
  • creating a more diverse, inclusive workplace. 

All of this ultimately speaks to agency health, which is going to be scrutinized by any company considering a shop’s acquisition potential. Additional concerns to keep in mind, according to Baxter, have to include cultural and staff compatibility among prospective agencies, as well as similarity of service offerings. 

Of course, this summary can’t do justice to the depth of discussion provided by the webinar itself. Anyone interested in a more complete understanding of how to gain and maintain a competitive edge for their agency in a rapidly redefined market, any agency decision-maker considering acquisition opportunities, or anyone in turn looking to be acquired, will want to find a quick hour for the Getting Your Agency in Check for Growth or Acquisition webinar.