Last week the news broke that TMA won Promo magazine’s award of “Best Creative Agency” for 2010. After a congratulatory call (and a celebratory beer), we caught up with TMA founder Ray Clark to ask him a few questions about what makes TMA one of the most creative agencies and where he thinks we’re headed.
Q: What’s TMA’s competitive edge?
A: When I talk to other people about TMA, I talk about a hand ful of things: Our people, our centralized agency resources (CAR), the diversification of our competencies, the diversification of our clients, our focus on growing our clients’ business, and our ability to morph into different looks for different clients, something that most promo or event agencies can’t do.
Q: What’s TMA’s greatest challenge in 2010?
A: Externally, it’s the economy. Second, is our clients’ perception of the value TMA provides and their willingness to pay a fair price for it — on time.
Internally, I still see our greatest challenge is integration. We’ve come a long way and we have a long way to go. When get the integration piece down, we’ll double in size. When we all really understand the whole agency, and we work to help the whole agency, the agency will get better and bigger and more profitable. Those who lead in that endeavor will make a lot more money.
Talent is also a challenge. We should be relentless at getting rid of poor performers and rewarding the best performers, and we should always be out trying to find the best talent.
A final challenge is keeping our constant focus on the vision, strategy, and plan. And making sure we have the right people in place.
Q: If you could invest in one thing to make the agency better, what would it be?
Generally speaking, people. I believe in investing in people over things. TMA pays a higher percentage of revenue to compensate people than almost any other successful agency inside Omnicom. One major way we do that is we try to pay less in overhead — items like rent and furniture, etc.
Q: What advice would you give account managers/executives/coordinators?
A: Have a plan for yourself. Know where you’re going. Spend an hour each month tailoring a plan for yourself — one with a vision, strategy, and plan. Measure it. Work it. It’s the only way I know of to almost guarantee success.
I’d also ask for a 30-minute meeting with your team leader or your BBU leader. The key to advancing your career is growth.
You can help grow the business by providing a level of service that the client will pay more for. You can grow the business by showing the client great ideas that require them to pay more for. You can grow the business by asking your client questions — constantly — about what their biggest concerns are, or what they would like to see more of. And look for opportunities to help solve these.