Strategies and creation of an independent advertising agency; live event August 2-4


It’s back: The Ad Age Small Agency conference and awards return August 2-4. But with the conference now in its 12th year, the schedule for this year’s virtual event is anything but the same. We touch on topics that have been pivotal this year and will be crucial for stores to navigate in the months to come. Here is a sampling of five topics that will be covered.

1. Smarter ways to do business

The pandemic has tested stores large and small and made our job more difficult. Pitches have migrated to Zoom, clients are demanding more for less, tenders are getting murkier and contracts more complicated. Several sessions will offer ideas and solutions for succeeding against the odds, including a presentation by Nancy Hill from Media Sherpas on how to recognize the warning signs of bad pitches and Lindsey Slaby from Sunday Dinner on how to write a good contract. Keith Cartwright, founder of Cartwright, will share lessons about what he learned in his first year of operating his own agency. And Michael Goldberg and Lorraine Stewart of Rojek Consulting will explain why it’s so important to match your culture to that of your client. Which brings us to…

2. How to win and keep customers

Landing a major customer is tough, but that’s only half the battle. A panel of leaders from small stores who have won big business – WorkInProgress, Mojo Supermarket and Highdive – explain how it can change your agency and what to expect. And Dana Lytle of Planet Propaganda, along with client Ricker Schlecht of Duluth Trading, will offer the secret to a long-term agency client relationship – theirs lasted a decade in a time when clients change agencies as often as they like. they change their underwear.

3. Take the step towards diversity and inclusion

There hasn’t been a bigger topic in the industry this year, but there aren’t enough changes. Sessions will include Elizabeth Paul from The Martin Agency presenting the Visibility Brief, an open-source tool for increasing representation in advertising; a fireside chat with Glenn Singleton of Courageous Conversation on how to be an ally; and a report from BLAC, a coalition of small agencies dedicated to diversifying the ranks of small stores through an internship program.

Learn more about the event and the schedule, and buy tickets at

4. Fight burnout

The pandemic has exacerbated problems that already existed due to overwork and inflexible competitive pressures, to the point that people are leaving the industry in droves. Elizabeth Rosenberg, founder of Good Advice Co., will tell a moving personal story of how she ignored warning signs at her peril, and a panel of small agency executives will offer best practices and ideas for reducing stress in you. agency.

5. Trends that will survive the pandemic

Flexible hours, virtual offices, living in one city and working in another. Are these trends that will persist when things return to full “normal” in the fall? Or were they good ideas at the time that will now fall apart? Agency leaders will debate what really sticks and what doesn’t.

In addition to these topics, there will be sessions on when it’s time to sell your agency and why being a “small” agency is an asset. And there will be creative inspiration: We Believers will showcase a case study of their work for client Burger King, which is tearing up the rewards circuit and changing the world one fart at a time.

The event will be capped off with our virtual Small Agency Awards Ceremony honoring the best small agencies of the year.

Learn more about the event and the schedule, and buy tickets at


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