Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 about Agencies

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Friday 11th March 2011

  • Your Meetings Suck and It's Your Fault

    by Kevin Hoffman

    Your meetings are stale, remote, and awkward conversations. You know you rock, but not everyone in your meetings is rocking to the same tune. Sometimes you aren't even sure you are in the same rock band anymore.

    After having one too many unproductive (and occasionally sleepy) meetings, Happy Cog reinvented it's approach to meeting design around interactive activities, informed conversation, and collaborative design exercises. Happy Cog’s Experience Director Kevin M. Hoffman will review the key ideas from the history of meeting design and good facilitiation, then explore approaches for meetings that have proven engaging and successful to Happy Cog clients.

    This talk will cover business strategy and project definition activities, conflict resolution processes, big group/small group conversation management, simple research engagements, deliverable presentations, and finally, post mortems. Many expamples will be pulled from Happy Cog's meeting approaches for clients like ecommerce (Zappos, Groupon), tourism (VisitPhilly.com), higher education (Georgetown University, MICA), and museums (the National Holocaust Museum).

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 2:00pm to 3:00pm, Friday 11th March

    In Ballroom C, Austin Convention Center

  • Do Agencies Need to Think Like Software Companies?

    by Matt Galligan, Allison Mooney, Robert Rasmussen, Amanda Kelso and Rick Webb

    Now that digital and mobile is a component of any innovative ad campaign, the question arises: How much do marketers need to know about technology? The truth is, advertisers and brand marketers are entering a brave new world -- one where code is on par with content. The 21st-century ad isn't something to be looked at, it's something to be used. Our reliance on mobile tools, such as apps, position them as the perfect vehicles for brands. "Consumers" are now "users." So are "marketers" now "developers"?

    Enter the hybrid marketer. More and more agencies are finding they need to educate and cultivate a new breed of people who understand tech from a marketing and brand perspective, and who have a consumer mindset. These creative technologists also lend a software company vibe around an agency.

    But should agencies really try this stuff at home? Should they be worrying about, say, the video capability of the latest iPhone? Or just stick to their core competencies and work with real software companies and development shops to realize their ideas? This panel will look at this new staffing paradigm and debate what the agency of the future should look like.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Friday 11th March

    In Ballroom F, Austin Convention Center

  • Breaking Taboos: Pros Get Real About Money Matters

    by Marc Hemeon and Whitney Hess

    Industry All-Stars tackle the subject that we're all most curious about but causes us the most discomfort: what, when, and how to charge for our work. Learn their inside tips on how to charge your clients, when trading work for equity makes sense, and how to avoid common client pitfalls. Stop cheating yourself and learn that you deserve to be paid in full for doing work you're passionate about. Our work has the power to make enormous amounts of money for our clients. Let's take a good hard look at the value we provide and how to ask for and receive value in return.

    Negotiating your rate for a project is the difference between being a starving artist or successful freelancer or studio. Creatives fall prey to lowball offers, promises of future work, and other forms of wage penalties in fear of losing a potential client. Learn how the pros have created successful freelance businesses and startups by not compromising their rates and standards. Understand how they attract the big name clients and avoid the bad clients.
    We'll also explore potential benefits and risks of working for stock.

    Lawyers, doctors, accountants and other professionals typically don't experience angst, guilt, or wishy-washy boundaries when stating their rates and neither should we. We see standard billing rates across many industries. We’ll take a look at the role a standard billing rate would have in the creative services industry and how such a standard would be upheld and implemented.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Friday 11th March

    In Rio Grande A, Marriott Courtyard Austin Downtown/Convention Center

Saturday 12th March 2011

  • Client Knows Best? How to Sell Unsolicited Ideas

    by Hashem Bajwa, Thom Gruhler and Nick Parish

    So you get the brief, and it’s the “same old same old”. Your client wants a banner campaign…an email blast, a :30 second spot… but you’ve got something better up your sleeve… something more appropriate for them that better meets their needs. Something they’re pining for but they don’t know it yet. How will you sell it to them without making their head spin? How can you make them understand the benefits without losing them in the technological weeds? We’re constantly being thrown for a loop when it comes to great, innovative ideas: “It’s not in the budget.”, “How can we measure its success?”, “We’ve never done anything like that before.” This panel will tell you how to crash through all those barriers with your client and make something really interesting – you may even put it in your portfolio.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Saturday 12th March

    In Salon C, Hilton Austin Downtown

Sunday 13th March 2011

  • Bend Over? Surprise! Agencies Are Screwing You

    by Meghan Warby and Lucia Mancuso

    The agency model of billable hours, budget overruns and hierarchical team structures was built in the early 20th century. Although things have changed significantly thanks to technology, labor equity and innovation in other industries, this outdated model continues its vampire-like sucking of vendors dry.

    Examining the traditional model, we’ll identify reasons why agency-contracted work is potentially perilous for your business. Instead of being results-oriented, agencies charge hourly rates regardless of (un)successful outcomes. Agency staff, constrained by the pressure to bill hourly are stifled creatively and prevented from serving clients as best they can. Should these time sheet zombies continue representing brands to the public?

    Thankfully, many workable solutions exist: bring creative personnel in house, pay for quantifiable results, empower yourself to learn new necessary skills, insist on agency and vendor accountability, and more.

    As the sun sets on the agency world, and the ball is in the court of business owners. Are you ready to adapt to the 21st century and make a jump to a new way of doing business?

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Sunday 13th March

    In Rio Grande A, Marriott Courtyard Austin Downtown/Convention Center

Monday 14th March 2011

  • Abolish The Hourly: How Value Pricing Wins Clients

    by Lee Dale and Jon Lax

    From an introduction to value pricing to case studies to client relationships, how value pricing can help to abolish the hourly and find a better way to business success, for you and for your clients.

    Traditional business practice dictates that the way to bill your clients is to first figure out your costs by taking salaries + overhead + profit to figure out a billable rate, and multiply that by an estimate of the number of hours required to complete a project.

    Now, what if basing your rates on the number of available labour hours isn’t an accurate representation of the way you work or the way to bring the best value to your clients? The old model is broken, and value pricing is where we need to shift the client/service provider relationship.

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Monday 14th March

    In Salon E, Hilton Austin Downtown

  • The Last of the Launch-and-Leave-'Ems

    by Peter Parkes, Anjali Ramachandran, Mel Exon and Conrad Lisco

    Negotiating the new handover. Agencies are building fewer static campaign-oriented sites and more platforms, communities and services. Cutting the apron strings between agency and digital product immediately after launch doesn't make practical sense, but maintaining the relationship indefinitely is costly for the client and creatively stifling for the agency. This panel will explore solutions that are most likely to be beneficial to both parties as well as the members of the service they are trying to build: a new plan for launch, propagation and perpetuation.

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Monday 14th March

    In Ballroom F, Austin Convention Center

    Coverage slide deck

Tuesday 15th March 2011

  • Right Brain to Left: Art of Persuasive Presentations

    by John Harne

    Why do so many creative professionals in the interactive design and agency business struggle to sell their concepts, executions and creative work to the business decision makers. What are the potential issues of communicating concepts containing emotion and aesthetic content to analytical thinkers. How are some creative professionals able to sell just about anything to their clients. John Harne is the Executive Creative Director for Definition6. With over 20 years of interactive experience he began his career as an artist and animator and has successfully lead several of the largest interactive agencies since 1998. His team recently won Adage Small Agency Campaign of the Year with the viral“Coke Happiness Machine”. His experience with leading creative presentations for a wide variety of media spans identity projects like the WebMD identity to 50 million dollar accounts like Virgin and TheHomeDepot to film projects for TLC and Matchbox20. Just last week he showed a major hotel how his team would transform their brand through creative consumer insights. He credits the win to building part of the concept in an iPad application and handing it to the clients during his pitch. In this presentation he will give concrete and examples of how to pitch ideas to boards to games to campaigns and how to ask for the business. Learn some valuable techniques to understand the prospective client, how to read the room and how important story-telling is in the process of creative presentation.

    LEVEL: Advanced

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Tuesday 15th March

    In Brazos 2/3, Marriott Courtyard Austin Downtown/Convention Center