The Next 90 Days

April 02, 2020

Sam Littlefield

Littlefield Agency

We feel your pain, you agency owner, you.

Dickens famously said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” … well what about in the most uncertain of times, Charles?  You’ve lost sleep, you don’t know who to lay off, or rather, who to furlough, or to continue forward praying the funds from this Stimulus Package kick in quick to cover your payroll, rent, utilities, etc. these next couple of months.  

From our agency network of CEOs, Presidents, and Partners alike, we want to let you know that you’re going to make it through this. We survived the ’87 crash, 9/11, the great recession between ’08-‘09, and now we will survive this. You may lose some employees, clients, and some years off the back end of your life, but hang with us because we will say it again: YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE IT THROUGH THIS. As a fellow agency owner, we want to clue you in on the numerous discussions we’ve been having (through Zoom of course) these last few weeks as MAGNET.

Your revenue is down anywhere from 10-40%

If you’re near the 10% number, consider that a major win right now. Many agencies are down 25-30%. We heard through an agency consultant (outside of MAGNET) that some of his clients are down 60-80%. Unfortunately, you may have been your client’s first phone call. They got the go ahead from the C-Suite to freeze budgets until there is no longer the unknown. You were hoping that was the only call you’d get. All of the sudden, your account people are blowing up your email with more clients cutting or “postponing” budgets. At this point, if postponing until Q3/Q4 really is true, that would be the best thing our industry has going for it right now. A true marketing blitz would occur across the world.
But we can’t be hopeful right now; we have to stay focused and in the moment. It’s our responsibility to put roofs over our employees heads. Thanks to this Stimulus Package that was passed last week, you’ve got some time.

See the below two screenshots of a webinar that was put on by Cohen & Co. out of Cleveland regarding the ins and outs of the Stimulus Package.

We’re sure you’ve seen similar webinars or maybe you’re well read on the matter, so we won’t go into super detail here. However, we think it’s helpful to see it simply outlined via the above. You may have questions—our group had a ton. But communicating through a network email thread and bi-weekly Zoom meetings with advice from numerous different CPAs, bankers and lawyers has helped our individual agencies figure out the complexities of this bill.

The overall consensus? Hold onto your people for now. Make the appropriate adjustments when we get through this. Do the calculations. If this 2.5x average monthly payroll cost can’t get you through this given steep revenue loss, consider a furlough. The loan won’t be forgiven, but some of it can depending on how many people you put on the sidelines. Keep in mind if you do hold onto your current staff, the entire loan will be forgiven if you keep your people onboard through the end of June—when the world should be back to normal and marketing budgets are trending upwards.

It ultimately comes down to what you need to do to stay in business. You have to live to fight another day. There’s no doubt you will.

From a group of dedicated, loyal and loving group of CEOs to you, you’re going to make it through this.

– Sam LIttlefield

Forget about new business, focus on the clients you have right now

This may be the hardest thing to do right now, but it’s the right thing to do right now. The last thing your prospects want to hear about is how they can pay you so you can help them during this difficult time. You don’t want to go completely dark on them (that’s what we tell our clients every day in regards to their customers and prospects), so instead of coming across salesy, come across helpful. Ask yourself, what information do I have right now that could be helpful to our prospects? If it’s a given, don’t send. You’re the marketing expert, so give them expert advice and counsel. At the end of the day, the reason we got in this business is to help our clients solve their problems. Now is the time to be that helpful ally/partner.

Now, given the limited outreach to your prospects, let’s hone in on your current clients. What ideas are you bringing them day in and day out? They have major business challenges paired with limited funds at the moment. There are some that have told us their internal teams are working on ideas. We don’t care. We still encourage you to bring at least one tangible idea to your clients each week. When we get through this, they are going to look back and realize whether or not they have a loyal partner that actually gives a damn about their business. Sure don’t want them to have a doubt in their mind about your commitment to them as an agency. 

By the way, mix your ideas up. What is the reason clients hire us besides the fact that we are expert marketers? They like us. Nine times out of ten you having a client is because they can see themselves working with you every day. What does that mean for you? They like you as a human. So bond with them as a human. Some agencies have created their own COVID-19 Spotify playlists. Others are implementing virtual happy hours with clients. One agency created a PDF of top shows to binge watch on Netflix/Hulu/HBO/Amazon right now. It’s unsettling times, so try and show them a fun time. They want to get through this as quickly as we do.

Hang in there

Remember what we said earlier? You’re going to make it through this. And you will. Because every agency in MAGNET will too. It’s the one thing we’re confident with all of the unknown ahead.

While there are many unfortunate things happening right now, one of the major fortunes is this global network of ours. Honestly, we don’t know how we could make it through these coming months without it.

From a group of dedicated, loyal and loving group of CEOs to you, you’re going to make it through this.

Sam Littlefield

Sam is the President of Litttlefield Agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma and a MAGNET Board Member.


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