GROW, BUILD, SELL, LIVE: A Practical Guide to running and building an agency and enjoying it

If you are thinking about starting your own marketing agency, have started one and hit your first round of growing pains, or are a veteran looking for an exit, this book is for you. It will appeal to current and aspiring ad agency owners who want to understand their choices and take control of their agency.

In it you'll find practical and implementable advice and tools to address the day-to-day reality of running a successful marketing agency - without the stress and angst that usually goes with it.

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10 chapters cover all the drivers of growth.

You don’t have to read it from start to finish. You can choose the chapter that addresses your current business needs.

You can start at the end – Make sure your agency is good enough to sell from day one. Or you can start at the beginning - The Dangers of Travelling Hopefully and How a Purpose Becomes a Plan. The choice is yours.

But then that’s what this book is all about – helping you to make the right choices for YOU and your business.

Who should read this book?

If you are thinking about starting your own marketing agency; have started one and hit your first round of growing pains, or are a veteran looking for an exit, this book is for you.

In the PRCA Practical Guide, you'll find practical and implementable advice and tools to address the day-to-day reality of running a successful agency - without a lot less of the stress and angst that usually goes with it.

If you're like most agency leaders, you’ll spend the majority of your time on three areas - your people, clients and new business. These are all important levers for consultancy growth. But two other areas need at least the same level of attention - the numbers and YOU. Yes you.

Too often the owner doesn't invest enough in their own needs. And this lack of 'investment' in themselves can really hurt when the business needs them most. So, in addition to giving guidance on people, clients and new business, we've made sure that you and the numbers are both covered off in detail.

Helping you to make the right choices for you

We talk a lot about choices - and the fact that we all have more choice about what happens next at a marketing agency than we think we have.

The consultancy CEO/MD role can seem like an endless stream of issues to handle and fires to put out. It can leave you feeling as if your team, or your clients, are running your business rather than you. And, that your company runs your life rather than helping you to create the life you want to lead.

That's where this book comes in.

Tools and guidance to put you more in control of the choices you make

We've put together practical and implementable guidance on how to manage your agency so that you're in control, and most importantly so that it gives you what you want from your life.

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Introduction - Building a Great Agency - One Choice at a Time

Ch. 1 - The Dangers of Travelling Hopefully and How a Purpose Becomes a Plan

Ch. 2 - If You're Running a People Business, Then Make People Your Business

Ch. 3 - Culture Matters - It Will Determine How Fast You Succeed

Ch. 4 - Successful Agencies Need Good Leaders

Ch. 5 - Great Client Relationships Are Built on Respect Not Emotion

Ch. 6 - Cobbler's Children Is Cobblers - Why Marketing Matters?

Ch. 7 - Making Your Innovation Choices Pay-off

Ch. 8 - New Business - The Life Blood of All Agencies

Ch. 9 - The Money Matters - It's What Agencies Are Really About

Ch. 10 - Make Sure the Business Is Good Enough to Sell - From Day One

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Crispin Manners

Crispin Manners is CEO and Founder of Onva Consulting. He led his PR agency to be the fastest growing PR company in the UK, the #2 performer over a decade and one of the Top 5 PR firms to work for. He specialises in driving growth through employee engagement and advises several PR agencies around the world on how to achieve their potential. He is a past Chairman and founding fellow of the PRCA, and past Chairman of the European region of the Worldcom PR Group.

Richard Houghton

Richard Houghton works as a specialist management consultant to marketing services agencies, focusing on growth. He spent the first 25 years of his career working in public relations consultancies in the UK and Europe, holding senior management and managing director positions in three top ten agencies. He also ran his own technology agency for a decade. A columnist for PRWeek, he writes on the business of public relations in the monthly Agency Doctor column. He is a former Chairman of the PRCA, a founding fellow and a past president of ICCO.

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Crispin has been helping me to develop my agency for the past six years. Thanks to his suggestions I’ve made major changes in financial, HR and client management. This has transformed our profitability and enabled me to develop a sustainable business that is helping me achieve my personal life goals. I recommend Crispin and Richard’s book to anyone intent on building a great agency.

Patrik Schober, CEO, PRAM Consulting

Agency leaders like me need a practical book like this. We have so many things to do day by day and hardly have time for our own professional development. But if we want to build a successful, long lasting business, we cannot stop learning and strengthening our knowledge. This book is a perfect resource for that.

Andras R Nagy, Owner of Probako Communication, Former Chairman of Worldcom EMEA region

This guide will not only inspire, but more importantly also focus minds on what really matters at an agency, giving owners renewed vigour to actually get out of bed in the morning. It should help distil disparate ideas into a coherent strategic overview, ensuring companies have a clear purpose to be successful.

Henry Griffiths, Partner, Nous Communications

Running an agency has unique challenges, stresses and opportunities for growth. If I’d read this book 15 years ago, I would have made many different decisions, and reached them with more focus and less turmoil. In short, reading this book is one the best investments you can make in yourself, and your business.

Crispin Manners’ understanding of agency strategy, operations are top-of-the-game. His insights into the nuances that can accelerate or impede agency performance, and the choices owners may make, are based on years of direct experience in the centre of the storm, which is rare and valuable. I’ve read several books on agency performance in the 30 years I’ve run my firm, and this is possibly the most incisive, and useful.

Amy Bermar, President, Corporate Ink, Boston, USA

This book is a great resource for PR agency owners - and anyone wishing to build a great agency. I wish I had read it when I founded my agency. Every business leader working in a people-based business should have a look at it, the real-life examples can be helpful in every stage of the agency life-cycle: start-up, growth, sale or succession.

Diego Biasi, Founder & CEO, BPRESS, Italy

Wonderfully practical and extremely well structured , this book really does cover all the fundamental aspects of building a successful consultancy . It shares great insights and recommendations rooted in experience. A must read for those building a consultancy and indeed for those already at the helm of a more mature business .

Sarah Waddington, Founder and Editor of #FuturePRoof and Vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Whether you’re an existing or wannabe PR agency boss, stop whatever you are doing and buy this book. It’s so good, I wish I’d written it. With explicit guidelines on how formalising your purpose can revolutionise your culture and cashflow, and a must-read section on innovation, it’s the best investment you’ll make this year. Hands off my copy!

Alison Clarke, Founder, Alison Clarke Consulting

When I bought this book, I was deep in the middle of running my business and not thinking much about HOW I was running my business. The daily demands of making clients happy, meeting deadlines and remaining profitable pretty much get in the way of me thinking about any direction except forward.

This book has such great advice if you run a small business or work in a large organization. I have been in both those roles. I found myself nodding my head and really taking in the crystal clear advice. Not only do Houghton and Manners have good advice, they back it up with methodologies and expertise for the areas where you want to dive in - even if it is just on one topic at a time.

One of my favorite pieces of advice -"No matter how hard you try, there will always be a few clients that are a drag on morale, deliver little profit and are frankly just bad for business. Pick one of these each year and fire them." WOW - this exact situation was the thing I really hated about working for some agencies. Everyone who worked for those clients knew they were horrible. It is nice to see that kind of honest advice in print!

I might just send this book to a few of my old bosses anonymously with that section highlighted!

Linda Groendyke, Founder & President, Digital Insight Labs

I have never written an online book review before -- but this book calls for it. I’ve owned a PR agency for 30 years -- and reading this book would have saved me money, time and aggravation. It also would have helped me make smarter decisions, earlier -- with confidence.

That’s tall praise for a short book. But it distills the lessons learned, and hits all the key elements -- strategy, being honest about what you really want, and shaping the company to achieve it, and understanding the emotional and behavioral make up of the people who work for you -- and clients -- all of whom bring their personalities to the job. Understanding this means having the tools to get the most out of your team, and, at the same time, helping them be more satisfied and productive, because they’re in working in ways that complement their natural strengths.

It may sound like hoopla, but trust me, it’s real.

Like almost every entrepreneur, I’ve read business books hoping to learn things with real impact. This one delivers.

Amy Bermar, Founder, Corporate Ink

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Both of us are helping agency owners around the world to realise their dreams. We do this because we get a buzz out of seeing people reach their potential. It’s very exciting when our clients see that they have real choice in how they run their businesses and then choose to do things that will give them what they want out of life and their business.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you please contact us using this email: and we can arrange a chat about what you want to achieve.

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Both of us are regular speakers at conferences and other business events. If you would like us to speak out your conference on the topics of business growth and agency development please contact using the link below. We have shared some of our most recent speaking engagements on the right.

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26th September 2019 - PRCA Conference - Book Launch, London

9th October 2019 - ICCO Global Summit 2019, Lisbon

16th October 2019 - #PowerAndInfluence Twitter Discussion with Ella Minty

23rd October 2019 - Konference Forum Media - Cubex Centrum Praha, Prague

8th November 2019 - PRCA Event - Nottingham



Contact Crispin:

Twitter: @crispinluke
LinkedIn: Crispin Manners

Contact Richard:

Twitter: @agencydoctor
LinkedIn: Richard Houghton

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