Cindy Gallop delivered a blistering closing keynote at the 3% Conference in New York City over the weekend and challenged the thousand-strong audience of predominantly creative women to strike out on their own and invent the agencies of the future.
Gallop in her trademark mixture of wit and candour delivered with a healthy dose of expletives, implored her audience to make the change she has been demanding for the past five years at every 3% Conference.
“If you are working somewhere that does not allow you to innovate and disrupt in the way that you want to, GTFO – get the fuck out,” the one-time agency exec turned consultant said.
Rather than leave it in broad inspirational terms, Gallop then dedicated the remainder of her presentation to stepping through her 10-point blueprint for starting a new agency, with a few detours along the way to flay the parlous state of the creative agency status quo.
1 You don’t need money to start the agency of the future
Gallop suggested that you don’t need an office, you don’t need staff you just need an intention to get going with your agency. She also urged her audience to “identify your minimal viable cost of living”. This she suggested would be a lot lower than what you might expect.
2 Know that you’re extremely good at things you don’t know your good at
Women could learn from men in this aspect suggested Gallop because “men are very good at bullshitting”.
3 Blue sky it – what do I really want to do
Here Gallop emphasised the world was yet to see the glory days of advertising and we shouldn’t look to the past for inspiration. The chance was available to really make something new and exciting.
4 Design your business to be the way you want to work
Citing an article in the Globe & Mail on Heidi Hackemer founder of brand shop Wolf&Wilhelmine in May 2016, Gallop said you could redesign a way an agency works from the ground up.
“At Wolf & Wilhelmine, that required actual rules: her employees are not allowed to send e-mails after 7 p.m. or on Saturdays. (Sundays are okay but nobody is required to respond to an internal e-mail on Sunday.) They will be disciplined for sending e-mails or being connected to the office while on vacation. Employees who do not take their vacation time are ineligible for bonuses. Each week, the agency conducts a meeting where everyone estimates their workload for the week; if anyone is in danger of exceeding 40 hours that week, work is shifted around or freelancers are brought in to help. All of this is disclosed to clients up front before they begin working together.”
5 Design your business model to be the way you want to make money
Creative agencies are awesome at not making money, says Gallop, so why on earth would you found your new business on a flawed revenue model based on number of hours worked versus results achieved?
6 Design your business from day one to one day ultimately make a lot of money
Again, Gallop relied on a quote to make her point, this time from the Drum who spoke with Rob Dickson and Donna Grato from R&D Venture Partners: No matter what the circumstances, every good agency can sell itself.
7 You can start the agency of the future alongside your current job
It’s not a secret that most new ventures start off as a side project and starting your own agency shouldn’t be any different. Here, Gallop was careful to point out she wasn’t encouraging people to steal their current employers clients, but that any decent agency should encourage people to be entrepreneurial.
8 Plenty of people want to fund your business
This was perhaps the most useful section of the presentation. Gallop provided a list of people who “want to give you money”.
“We want to invest in female founders in the brandtech space. Our investments are typically eary stage – seed, A and B round,” read an email sent to Gallop from Annette Stover, YouandMrJones.
“Brava aims to create a billion-dollar portfolio from scratch by bankrolling startups on one condition: the business must disproportionately benefit women,” The Washington Post October 2016.
iFundWomen.com – no further explanation required.
9 Your clients are all around you
Sitting in a room full of women (and men) sufficiently disgruntled with the status quo to attend a two-day conference about it presented perhaps as good an opportunity to meet a prospective new client as you were going to get. Start talking to the people around you, they’re your new clients Gallop urged.
10 Make it real
Finally, Gallop told everyone in the room to go home that night and get to work. To start in our her blueprint and make the dream real. She said she couldn’t bear to come back to the 3% Conference next year and there not be a meaningful change in the status quo.
Demonstrating the gumption required to make a fist of your own business, Gallop interrupted her presentation to deliver an ad break for her own startup makelovenotporn.
The in demand speaker, said she was willing to sell her time in exchange for a donation to makelovenotporn, starting out at $20 for a Twitter shout out through to $100,000 for 12 months of business consulting with Gallop herself.