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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Start me up: A balancing act

The fun, the necessary and other tales from a new creative agency's frontline

New med comms agency 

Like many things in life (or at least, life according to the homilies that litter the newsfeeds of Facebook), the things you need to do to set up an agency can be put fairly easily into two boxes: the fun and the necessary.

And, in order that Pareto can rest comfortably in his grave, the split is predictably 20/80 in favour of the latter. So for every two glorious chin-stroking moments spent debating logo options, straplines, photographic style and colour of the all-important agency fridge, there come another eight moments of conversations with lawyers, accountants, landlords, banks and letting agents.

And a few more spent in the queue at IKEA, pondering the good sense of a second hotdog.

At 11 London we've spent the last six weeks doing a marketing job on ourselves as we played client to our own agency, and it made us realise that the creative bit of marketing is but a small part of the whole process. A useful and timely way of seeing the proverbial monkey on the other man's back, and appreciating why our clients don't spend their lives counting the seconds until we next email them.

Aside from being reminded of the remarkably quotidian Nature of Things, the other Pareto-based epiphany I've had is around People Who Get In Touch.

Again, our clients probably get this all the time, but for every two people who come bearing gifts (and they're less likely to be Greeks these days), the other eight come with out-stretched palms as if you've just launched a food bank for distressed advertising folk outside the bins of Soho House.

My business partner Steve, who - being a dab-hand at running agencies (this is his third) mercifully has seen this all before - warned me of this early on. I'm learning to curb my enthusiasm for talking to pretty much anyone in favour of developing a slightly more cynical eye.

But part of the business of being in a creative industry is, I maintain, being prepared to spend some time talking to people not knowing where it might end up. A new creative idea or business avenue is, by its very nature, unknown - and you have to balance cynicism with being open, friendly and entrepreneurial.

That's all for this installment folks. Now I'm off to see what's in the agency fridge and strike up a creative and entrepreneurial conversation with our accountants...

Article by
Matt Hunt

Managing director,
11 London

24th February 2015

From: Marketing



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