What’s your current and future state?
Do you know what your organization stands for and where it’s going? Have you taken stock lately to assess your mission, vision, values and key differentiators? Are you operationalizing those touchstones with your team and customers? At Jackson Spalding, we do, we have and we are.
This week, we convened our team—in person after two years working from home—for our annual State of the Agency meeting called SOTA. It was a full day, designed to connect our teams from California to Texas and Georgia with updates on our 2025 business plan, our financial performance and with each other.
I’ve attended these meetings for 27 years, but this one was special.
We kicked off the day with a phenomenal keynote from Jeff Henderson, recently named by Forbes as one of the top 20 speakers you shouldn’t miss. The hype is real – we’ve long been raving fans!
His message was all about purpose and how critical it is today for individuals and organizations to know theirs.
Marketing is not what it used to be
If you think your marketing message should be all about you, think again. More and more studies show that employees and customers want to align with organizations that share their values. Defining your purpose—why you exist beyond just making money—helps you do that. And it’s a powerful differentiator that ultimately leads to profits and preeminence in the marketplace.
At Jackson Spalding, our purpose is to cultivate meaningful relationships rooted in mutual respect. We work very hard to constantly build authentic relationships inside and outside our company. It’s why we host meetings like SOTA and assign mentors for everyone who joins our agency. It’s why we encourage community volunteerism and engage with more than 40 non-profits. We take it seriously, and it’s a big part of what we’re known for.
To cast your fate, you must know your state
A few years ago, we embarked on our 2025 plan. We treated ourselves just like we treat our brand strategy clients by starting with research. Our friends at The Bantam Group surveyed everyone on our team and all of our clients. They had conversations with many CEOS and CMOS who work with us. Their findings confirmed some of what we knew and uncovered important insights that made us look at our business with fresh eyes. Relationships were our hallmark, but we needed to make changes to bring more clarity and focus to our agency goals. We decided it was time to refresh our brand foundation, along with our agency structure.
Since our inception we’ve rejected traditional job titles. Our growth—and future state—required us to rethink that idea. While we still don’t have traditional agency titles across the board, we do now have a defined career structure with clear practice and discipline leads. It was created by our people for our people to dive deeper into their desired career path by declaring a major and a minor focus for their work. Choices include Client Advisory, Brand Strategy, Creative, Digital, Paid Media, and Public Relations, the discipline that started it all back in 1995.
The point here is that you must commit to continuous improvement. The world is changing faster than it ever has before. People, brands and businesses must have courage to reexamine who they are, how they show up to others and what they stand for. And they need to live it.
Leaders must be repeaters
Jeff, our speaker, reminded us that activating a united culture requires intentional focus. It’s not enough to put your mission, vision and values on paper or paint it on the wall. Leaders live it. They demonstrate it with every interaction. They repeat it often- in writing and team meetings. They use it to inform business decisions. Over time, the repetition results in torchbearers who amplify it. That’s part of what SOTA was all about. Giving birth to new torchbearers.
So, now, I’m going to tell you what we’re all about today at Jackson Spalding: good chemistry on the way to great work. Relationships are still a critical component of our DNA, but our future state? We’re pushing to be fiercely strategic and fiercely creative in all that we do.