“As managers, we have to have tough conversations, but they are intended to help people get better at what they do,” he explains. “We have to sometimes look past happy in the short-term to ensure we get where we need to be in the long-term.”
DiD was thinking long-term during 2017. It restructured its executive hierarchy last year, elevating Elyse Cole, Bill Fay, Abby Galardi, and Henhoeffer to managing partners. The regrouping is designed to restore a work-life balance to founders Sannem and Peter Kenney, and should affect the overall agency dynamic.
“We asked, ‘How can we break down our status quo?’” Sannem says.
In a bigger-picture sense, he believes DiD has better positioned itself for expected growth. In 2017, the agency nudged revenue upward — to $20.5 million from $20 million in 2016 — while maintaining a staff count of 120. However, in three years, Sannem wants it to be a $30 million company — and in five, a $50 million company.
DiD appears to be succeeding on the work-life balance front: three employees who left in early 2017 rejoined within six months. It also bolstered its West Coast presence by promoting Anna McClure to creative director, DiD West.
In terms of clients, DiD made a concerted effort to focus on AOR in 2017. In 2016, it reported 10 AOR relationships and 15 project-based ones. In 2017, it reported 17 and five, respectively.
“While we recognize all client-agency relationships will go through challenges, we have been able to identify when a company, brand team, or individual on the client side doesn’t mesh well with our culture or mission,” Sannem notes. “We are getting better at letting go of those relationships in a positive manner.”
New clients included Halyard’s On-Q, a non-opioid pain management for post-surgical patients; EMD Serono, for its tech fertility business; and Novartis’ psoriasis blockbuster Cosentyx. Eighty percent of growth came from existing clients, among them Johnson & Johnson Consumer and Bausch + Lomb.
To accommodate the client growth, DiD expanded its offerings. The agency added media buying and planning, on-demand studio services, and a cooperative marketing portal. Sannem says the new offerings are set up to ensure privacy protections remain strong. The agency seeks to provide “targeted marketing without being so intrusive,” he explains.