JJ Townsend


It's All About the Long-Term


Message from the CEO

You’re probably seeing a lot of year-end lists right now going through the best movies, books, Youtube clips, grumpy cat memes, etc. As we begin the new semester, I want to share with you our top list of what we learned from 2013 and give you some insights on the Ole Miss Marketing Agency for 2014.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Project Teams Are Much More Effective

One of the most transformative things we learned in 2013 was how to properly divide, maintain and conquer our projects. We started the semester off with a wait-list of over twenty potential clients requesting marketing help. We formed teams made up of 4-7 staff members from various Agency departments to effectively divide and conquer the work, ensure accountability while also tapping into our unique skills and talents. Looking ahead, I plan to explore project management training opportunities for our project leaders. Upon completion of projects, I expect the project managers to offer extensive insights on how we can continue to improve when planning, executing and closing a project.

2. All-Star Teams Headed by Poor Leaders Can Produce Mediocre Results

---We cannot have poor leaders if our key organization structure is centered around project teams. Imagine the USA Olympic Basketball team led by an amateur NBA or college coach. Even with the depth of our 5-man team, we’re not likely to get a gold medal. To avoid this scenario, we have to invest as much time in picking team leaders as in picking members. We must also ask staff members for feedback early (and often), and not be afraid to replace lazy or incompetent team leaders and executive board members with dedicated general staff team members.

3. Do Not Penalize Failure or Mistakes; It Hinders Innovation and Creativity

---In order to maintain innovation and creativity within our organization's culture, we cannot penalize failure or mistakes in the absence of laziness and/or incompetence. One of the first client assignments we took on was a film screening for the movie DON JON. After much planning, organizing and coordinating; the client decided to drop us days before the screening date. This taught our account associates a valuable lesson in cultivating a healthy relationship with our clients. Missed opportunities and unsuccessful results must be viewed as windows for learning opportunities because after all, we are students. In 2014, you can expect to see the Agency promoting endeavors on our website blog that initially failed but ultimately led to creative solutions. (similar to Google Graveyard).

4. Cultivate Relationships with Faculty Because. They Are the Best Recruiting Tool and Source of Information

---We have recruited our best staff members from either the direct recommendations from professors or the professor allowing our recruitment team to speak to their class about the Agency. In an effort to show our appreciation in 2014, we will launch the Faculty Fellows Programs where business, journalism, and art faculty and administrators can sign up to receive monthly newsletters to stay updated on our activities, Agency swag/gifts, and invitations to free monthly luncheons. This program will connect us with individuals who have immense resources at their fingertips.

5. Get the Right People and Keep Them

----Time and time again the number one challenge that most startup founders speak about is recruiting quality people. It’s not raising money or finding clients. Recruiting is hard and time-consuming but it’s absolutely necessary. The first weeks of fall semester we placed over 30 new staffers in one of our four department. My selection approach was to over-staff with the assumption that many will wither away while some will thrive. I was right and in 2014 we have a stronger, leaner group running the Agency. The future organization will never have to take in as many students at one time because positions are kept until termination, resignation, or graduation. In the new year, we’re throwing away the run-of-the mill interview style and embracing role play interviews with case studies and sample projects for candidates to complete.

6. Align the Agency’s Interests with the Interests of the Individual Staff

---The rational and psychological egoism model thinking has worked well for the Agency. We’ve learned that people are motivated by self-interest which is a tremendous advantage for our structure. Consequently, we strongly seek students who would be inclined to do various tasks based on their major studies and career aspirations. Take our Finance department for instance. They manage budgets for all departments and projects, approve expenses, alter our tax structure and are finding innovative ways for the Agency to professionally acquire donations for our annual fundraising campaign - The “A Society”. Only those interested in pursuing a career Finance or Accountancy will want to focus solely on refining this aspect of our organization.

7. Insist on High Standards

---Throughout 2013, the executive board crafted our 5 core values named ‘Agency 5.0’. 1. Network and Collaborate 2. Commit and Deliver 3. Be Bold and Open-Minded 4. Do More with Less 5. Improve Continuously. In order to carry out these values we must improve standards and expectations for our staff and leadership. Two standards we have already set for 2014 is to respond to Agency-related emails within 24hrs, and to conduct mid-semester performance reviews.

Happy New and here's to a great 2014.