Prove Your Value—Promote Your Team

Happy holidays! The IHAF community is busy making the mad, final sprint to the 2014 finish line. And while this time of year can be crazy—finalizing budgets, writing performance reviews, strat-planning for 2015—it also allows us a chance to look back, take stock and think about how we can do things even better next year.

That’s why I love the theme that we are exploring this month at IHAF: Promoting Your In-House Agency. We all know that we should do it. And some of us do it pretty well, as evidenced by this year’s nominees for In-House Agency of the Year (high five, again, to TIAA-CREFF for winning the award). The truth is, most of us (myself included) know that we can probably do a better job promoting our in-house agencies to our business partners.

When we talk about promoting our teams, we often associate that with promoting—or proving—our value. Lots of us are accustomed to producing decks for our corporate bean counters that show how much money we save our companies, how lean we run, and the volume of work we produce on a yearly basis. Proving value is indeed important, so if you don't have a system in place to proactively measure your contribution to the business on a regular basis, you should.

Promoting the creative and strategic value of the in-house agency is a bit harder though. How do you talk about the qualitative value and insights that you bring to the table? At the recent IHAF Annual Conference, we were fortunate to have Kent Thomsen, senior director of LEGO's in-house agency, as one of our keynote speakers. One of Kent’s comments that really stuck with me is that “clients expect to be dazzled”—that clients want to work with rock star agencies, so we need to be rock stars.

Tom Monahan, president of Before & After, who also spoke at the conference, led us in a series of brainstorming exercises that later turned into break-out sessions where small groups worked together to solve common problems. I selected the session entitled (you guessed it) Promoting Your In-House Agency. In 45 very-short minutes, we came up with dozens of great ideas on how to promote our teams. Some were simple and fun like showcasing work through an art gallery or monthly calendar and fostering client relationships through events like parking lot BBQs or volunteer activities. Other ideas were longer-term, strategic propositions like publishing business cases that demonstrate specific capabilities or partnership wins.

This month, we'd like to hear from you on what you are doing to promote your in-house agency. What have you done to dazzle your clients with creative insights that deliver value? And how have you communicated those successes across the corporation? Let's get some collective fresh thinking around this important topic so we can kick-off 2015 with some great new ways to prove our value and promote our teams. Join us.

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