New Year Resolution: Make Your Agency Better

6.5 Percent Unemployment, Surge In The Housing Market, Affordable Healthcare, Unicorns & Glitter

Unicorns & Glitter to the rescue!

Unicorns & Glitter to the rescue!

Read on, trust me, I will get to what this means to your agency. . .

I’ve been traveling a lot lately and therefore watching a whole bunch of cable news. I go everywhere from Lean Forward to Fair and Balanced, with PBS sprinkled in.

I know first-hand that the sub-head I wrote is a whole ton of crap. Yes, even the part about Unicorns & Glitter, sadly. And the stark reality wasn't mentioned on cable news.

I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. The giant sinkhole of the Last Great Boom.

The reality is that the U-6 rate (actual unemployment including those who have quit looking) is 21.4 percent.

The reality is that the surge in the housing market is driven by, once again, speculators. That $600,000 home next door to me, that has foreclosed at least three times in five years, sold for less than $200,000 to a company that has a goal of 5,000 rental units.

The reality is . . . Affordable healthcare – the single greatest oxymoron ever. The bills get paid somehow, and whether it’s on the backs of the 20-somethings, or through higher average premiums (or taxes) for all, none of it really makes sense. Who does it make sense to? Perhaps the 12,745 individuals out of the 118,000 anticipated, who have signed up in Nevada as of the December 30 deadline.

The purpose isn’t to leave 2013 on a bad note. It is to enter 2014 on better note.

All of this ‘news’ points to one thing: get your act together.

Your agency. Your marketing department.

Stop all the waste that makes (or should make) you crazy.

  • Eliminate the extraordinary overages in client hours (that you can’t bill)
  • Communicate within – effectively and efficiently (get the documentation process out of email!)
  • Know where every project is at any moment (and who’s working on it)

When your house is in order, you will have time to do stunning creative, attract more clients and hire amazing talent.

Be brutally honest with yourself about your agency or department, because those bullet points are the distractions that will keep you mired in 2013. 

It's such mundane stuff I'm amazed I have to point it out. But then again, you're probably so used to it, you just assume it's part of being in advertising. 

I’m not here to tell you how to do great creative. I’m here to tell you how to organize so you can.

So, by getting organized, you can affect change: reduce the U-6 rate: hire people so they can buy a house; and when you're more profitable, you can offer better healthcare than what's offered on the public exchange - another great way to attract top talent.

As for Nevada? A prosperous 2014. We get drones!

Underwear and Deferred Maintenance and Your Agency

This story in MarketWatch caught my eye: Buy stocks when men buy socks – Socks and underwear sales may be an economic bellwether.

Ok correlation does not imply causation. You learned that in school. I suggest that sales are going up because of deferred maintenance.

I should create the underwear index and base all my plans on the economic bellwether of men’s underwear sales.

OMG! Too late. Wow, and Alan Greenspan followed this index. There’s food for thought.

To look back on the efficacy of this idea, take a look at this article from the Washington Post written in 2009, it states:

“The growth in sales of men's underwear began to slow last year as the recession took hold, according to Mintel, another research firm. This year, Mintel expects sales to fall 2.3 percent, the first drop since the company started collecting data in 2003.

But the men's underwear index -- or, conveniently, MUI -- may also have a silver lining. Mintel predicts that next year, men's underwear sales will fall by 0.5 percent, and as with many economic indicators, a slowing of a decline can be welcomed as a step in the right direction. Retailers are reporting encouraging signs in the men's underwear department. Sears spokeswoman Amy Dimond said stores are beginning to see more sales. At Target, spokeswoman Jana O'Leary said sales of men's underwear have been stronger over the past two months and multi-pair packs are moving.”

That – was 2009. Four years ago. Multi-pair packs. Sears. Target. How are things going now?

Oddly (to me), this is the Men’s Underwear Index. Do women cherish their unmentionables more and are willing to put rent money into a new thong or two? If we included women’s underwear-buying-habits would that skew the data?

I don’t necessarily see this as an upturn. I’m not a pessimist, I’m being realistic. I live in Las Vegas. The turnaround here is s – l – o – w.  A 12% up-tick in socks at American Apparel doesn't say anything to me about the economy. It’s conjecture. I place my bets on actually seeing people getting back to work.

In my enlightened opinion, it’s due to the fact that it is simply deferred maintenance – at some point you just have to buy new stuff.

That knock in the engine, the leak in the laundry room, the stomach ache that won’t go away. Or that mix of old and new – now redundant systems in your agency, that you haven’t realized, are too much work and producing very little data or efficiency. (See – I did get agency matters in there.)

No matter how well – or poorly – we’re doing, sometimes we just have to get a repair, fix a leak or go to the doctor, even if we don’t have insurance (yeah I know about Obamacare) – or search out a stellar system for getting your agency under control. (Did it again)

I think that the economy has been in a rut long enough; people have been un- or under-employed long enough that they just have to buy a new pair of socks.

Your agency is in a rut too, if you haven’t reviewed your processes, tools, and staffing (that includes a healthy review of ROLES) in a long time.

Keeping your head down and working is a good thing. But have you given any thought to the fact that all that mind-numbing stuff in-between – the forms, schedules, estimates, collaboration tools, email, spreadsheets, all that stuff – should be reviewed?

It’s 2013, Spring is here, time to face that deferred maintenance. Take a look in your sock drawer, organize and toss out the old, worn, and mis-matched.

If you can’t face the idea of throwing anything away, old socks, a bad process – call me. I’ll be happy to help. 

Getting Rescued in Vegas

One of my favorite hang-outs, legendary blues bar The Sand Dollar, is in the midst of a Bar Rescue.

All those things that make a blues bar ‘unique’ – like a dark, dingy interior; a stage with wiring that makes all the amps hummmm; remnants of various decorator touches – you get it. Basically the ick that has built up over time and given it a certain…ambience.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe it improvements – like fixing the toilet and making sure everything is clean. But what they’re going to change is the bigger question.

Since I moved to Las Vegas, almost nine years ago, the ‘Dollar’ has gone through several hands. Some good, some not so good.

But a few facts here – it has (barely) survived the recession; is located near the Strip – with no real neighborhood nearby which makes it a destination instead of ‘the place around the corner’; looks sketchy from the outside (HOWEVER, I ALWAYS FEEL SAFE THERE); has had no real love in years; been closed and reopened several times; and the worst part – the string of new owners didn’t re-hire Lola – the best cocktail waitress who has ever served a gin and tonic.

The place is an institution for locals. It will be interesting to see what it gets turned into. The guy doing the rescue has decades of experience turning bars around. He has a pretty standard plan, but when you fix things for a living, you know what works – or doesn’t work – usually.

But then again, this is Vegas. Off the Strip, bars here have a completely different set of challenges. All have liquor, gaming, and some have food and / or music in some form.

The challenge is, that any one of those attractions can be enjoyed in another bar, restaurant, Dotty’s, Albertson’s, CVS, or car wash. (Yes, I can gamble at my local Fabulous Freddy’s Car Wash.)

Anyway, there’s a short article in the local City Life about the changes a comin’.

I understand there was a ‘reveal’ last night. I couldn’t make it. Dang, I wanted to see what they’ve done to the place. But will surely head there tonight.

I hope the rescue included the restroom.

You Can Save the Economy – Go To Las Vegas

I live in Sin City. Where vices are okay, and we rank #2 on MarketWatch’s 10 states with the most homes in foreclosure – a dubious distinction that YOU can change.

In an effort to turn that dismal statistic around, I’m inviting you to come to Vegas!

Yes. It is beautiful here. Right now a little chilly, but clear and sunny and the high is expected to be 61 degrees today. Not bad for January 19. And we don’t have icky bugs.

If you come here, this is what YOU CAN CHANGE.
As cited on MarketWatch, our official unemployment is at 10.8%, and foreclosures are at 2.70%. Neither of which really reflect the truth because there are many of us who don’t bother reporting that we’re unemployed anymore, and there are a lot of houses that aren’t yet really reported as foreclosed – for a couple years (like the house across the street). Oh well.

This nifty little chart shows the national ‘official’ unemployment rate at 7.8% and the U6 rate at 14.4%. The U6 rate in the BLS statistic for Nevada is 21.4%.

U6 is defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as:
“U-6, total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.”

Almost everyone I know falls into this category. This is a city that has grown on service and construction jobs. Therefore it’s easy to be marginally employed. Most work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

But that’s all gloomy and I’m all about the economic recovery of Las Vegas and getting my friends employed full-time.

Now for the pitch: do what I tell you.

As a visitor, you don’t have to pay attention to any of that. Because, when you come to Fabulous Las Vegas, you will affect change in our local economy. I like that about you.

Vacation here.
Go to and check out things to do, places to stay and then book your trip. You’ll have a great time here. Plus, there are very cool things to do if you’re not into the casino thing.

Red Rock Canyon is only a 20 miles West of the Strip, Hoover Dam is 35 miles to the East; and Death Valley is a couple hours West.  (Check out Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.) You’ll even learn a little history.

Meet here.
Since the President reversed his opinion on going to Vegas for business, it is okay for you to plan your next meeting here. Fantastic accommodations, reasonably priced; every major airline flies here (and the airport is right near the strip); lots more fun after the convention or conference (you do attend, don’t you?); and did I mention a pyramid, pirate ship, volcano, the Eiffel tower and gondolas?

So check out the place, and request a meeting planner guide. Then plan your conference, meeting or some sort of business thing. Heck, hire me as a speaker. I have an opinion. On everything.

A couple tips for visiting Vegas:
- Casinos are big, so bring comfortable shoes. If you’re out clubbing, stick some flats in that little handbag. You will thank me. If you’re taking a stroll on the Strip, everything looks close. It isn’t – but it’s worth the walk to catch the vibe. There’s a lot to see. Do it in comfort. You’ll thank me again.
- Drink water. Humidity is really low here, and in the summer it is hot. Hydrate – especially if you drink alcohol. Alternate those margaritas-on-a-sling with a bottle of water – or two.
- Spend money. You’re going to take a trip or have a conference somewhere – right? Plan to do it here. We all appreciate you more than those other cities.

I can sense our economy improving.