Whether you’re an owner still handling operations at a smaller agency, or an operations director at a larger firm—you’ve probably felt lonely in your role at one point or another.
We often find ourselves solving problems that feel like they’re unique to us and to our team. And if we’re being honest, we don’t really know what we’re doing half the time.
We solve the types of problems that aren’t easily answered with a Google search or tutorial videos on YouTube, and these aren’t the types of topics other agencies are covering on their blogs.
Without many others with whom to compare our ideas, it can be hard to know if we’re doing things the right way… or even if a right way exists.
Worst of all, even after we’ve found a great solution to streamline a workflow or optimize a particular process, we have to face the painstaking task of implementation with our teams. And our teams don’t typically share the same enthusiasm for efficiency and change as we do.
We’re the integrators in a world filled with visionaries—and it can be an exhausting, fearful and isolated place.
These feelings motivated me to seek out groups and resources for Agency Operations. What I found was that there aren’t many of them out there, and none are exactly what I was looking for.
In this post, I want to do two things: share the best events and groups that I did manage to find, and introduce something I’ve been working on that might be incredibly valuable to you in your role.
The COO Forum
The COO Forum is a chapter-based group that brings together COO’s all over the US and internationally for local chapter meetings.
They offer a few different perks to their members, such as access to these local chapter meetings, a LinkedIn group, the occasional TeleMeeting and access to what they call their eForum—which is basically a database of their members and resources they’ve collected through the years.
They describe themselves as being open to companies of all industries and sizes around the world. So while they’re not focused specifically on creative or ad agency operations, with an affordable annual membership of just $1,000, they’re still a valid option for COO’s looking for a peer group.
The 4A’s is an authority when it comes to agency thought leadership. While most of their events and content are focused specifically on Ad Agencies and cater to the Owner/CEO level, they do occasionally offer some great content and events more focused on operations.
While their members tend to be larger agencies, they do welcome U.S. based ad agencies of different sizes and attract a fairly diverse crowd at their events.
Their membership fees run about $5,000 per year. With that, you get access to some exclusive content and discounts on tools and live events they host throughout the year. They also have a benefits division, which presumably offers preferential pricing on insurance packages.
If you’re a CEO at a larger agency and are looking for access to great content and events to grow your ad agency, this might be the place for you.
COO Alliance by Cameron Herald
Best known for being the COO at 1-800 Got Junk? and his bestselling book Double Double, Cameron Herald is one of the first people to recognize the gap in support for COO’s and then decided to do something about it.
This COO Alliance group has a heavy emphasis on live events. Their membership runs about $20,000 per year, and allows you to attend 3 events per year and get on a quarterly call led by Cameron.
Their focus seems to be geared towards slightly larger companies, with the mean size being around 162 employees and the minimum application criteria being $5M in annual revenue. Their membership is not focused on a specific industry, so you’ll get a wide variety of company sizes and industries in this group.
If you’re the COO at a larger firm, looking to attend a few live events with other high-powered COO’s from a diverse range of industries, this could be a great fit.
Bureau of Digital: OPS Camp
The Bureau of Digital runs several events throughout the year, and they seem to have one for just about everyone at your agency.
While most of their attention is toward owners, they do have some fantastic events focused on operations like Operations Camp and the Digital PM summit—both great ways to connect with other folks sharing similar pain points.
I was fortunate enough to attend an Ops camp in Utah last year, and I absolutely loved it. It was one of the highlights of my year, and the team at the Bureau did a phenomenal job organizing it. I just wish they hosted more of these!
The audience tends to be in the small to medium sized agency range (12-100 employees) and they’re focused exclusively on creative and ad agencies, so the context is always incredibly relevant.
These events generally cost $4,000-6,000 per event, and include access to Slack channels after the event to keep in touch with attendees and alumni.
The Agency Operations Mastermind
After looking tirelessly for the perfect solution and not finding the ideal fit, I decided to create it. Enter the Agency Operations Mastermind.
I wanted to create something that combined all my favorite elements from the groups, training programs and live events I’ve been a part of over the years and create one amazing community specifically for agency operations people:
- A private community with only operations managers at creative agencies with around 10-100 employees, where we could all feel a sense of belonging.
- A private Facebook group we could post a question and get feedback right away— and share your knowledge with our peers.
- Regular mastermind calls with small groups of 10-15 in order to get regular feedback from other Agency Ops people who are on a similar journey.
- Regular access to experts for trainings and Q&A’s where we actually get to ask real questions.
- A place where all the playbooks, resources and replays could be easily accessed so that we could go back to the archive anytime a particular topic becomes relevant.
So, after speaking to many of my peers and realizing that there’s an appetite for this type of group, I decided to open up applications for the first cohort of this group in March of 2019.
In the pursuit of making sure this is the absolute best mastermind that it can possibly be, and that it really addresses the biggest challenges agencies face with operations, I wanted to ask for your feedback.
I’ve created a short survey on agency operations, and I’d be grateful if you could spend 2-3 minutes in helping me to better understand your needs so I can design the best possible support system. Start Survey Now »