How OH Partners Became a $35M/Year Creative Agency

Scott Harkey has built OH Partners to $35M in annual revenues. Find out the hiring strategies they used to grow to 120 employees, the pruning process to focus on their best clients, and how they close deals like a $50M contract with the Arizona Lottery.

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Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • [01:30] How Scott and his business partner got started with OH Partners and their vision for the company
  • [03:28] How they went about getting their first clients and learning from failure
  • [06:24] How they started closing deals and picking big clients like Arizona State University
  • [09:34] Working with sports franchises and understanding the business metrics better than their competitors
  • [11:47] Strategies in building relationships with key decision makers of organizations
  • [14:24] How they succeeded in getting their first big client, the Arizona Lottery, and what they were able to do for them
  • [18:21] The research that they did that impacted their creative decisions, that ultimately led to the execution of their strategy into an effective campaign
  • [25:20] What it was like going through different employee stages and the things they had to change to make things work
  • [26:44] How they hired the best people to run their business
  • [31:11] How they know if someone is a good fit for their company
  • [32:15] Why they decided to focus on their big clients
  • [35:12] How they went about trimming the number of their clients
  • [39:24] The one thing they did that had the biggest impact on their growth
  • [41:20] The area that Scott had to personally evolve and grow in to grow their business

Key Takeaways:

  • Higher win rates in new business pitching results from being smart about who you can help, who you want to work with, and what you’re passionate about.
  • For a business like OH Partners, it’s about relationships. You have to have great connections in the marketplace and grow not only your agency’s brand but your personal brand.
  • In a professional service business, what brands you’re aligned with speaks a lot about what kind of work you do.
  • Clients can feel when you’re passionate about their business and they understand that you know the business metrics of their industry.
  • You need 7 to 10 touch points within an organization with their key decision makers before you’re even on their radar. And it has to happen organically, it can’t look forced.
  • The strategy of having a spokesperson to give a brand life is not a new strategy. It’s an old strategy that continues to work.
  • In the ad agency business, you need to be very clear on what your weaknesses are and how you improve those weaknesses. Otherwise, you’re vulnerable to not only losing current accounts but vulnerable to winning new accounts.
  • The 80/20 rule is that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients. There are benefits to focusing on fewer clients who are big and letting go of your smaller clients.

Action Steps:

  • Be strategic about what you’re good at, what type of people you want to align yourself with, what industries you deeply understand, and the consumer.
  • Build relationships with the key decision makers of the companies and organizations that you want to work with.
  • You don’t need to create new strategies. Utilize old strategies that work.
  • Know your strengths and weakness. Any area that you feel you have a major weakness, go and recruit a talent that would make up for that weakness.
  • Create a great culture and a great place to work. This will help you hire the right people.
  • Hire the person that you need two years from now, not the person you need today.
  • Focus on your big clients and not letting them go away.

Scott said:

“Strategy is not what you’re going to do, but strategy, more importantly, is deciding what you’re not going to do.”

“The hardest lessons we’ve learned and the biggest failures that we’ve had have catapulted us to where we are today… Good entrepreneurs are stupid because they don’t know how hard things are going to be to succeed, and they just do it and they jump in.”

More from Scott Harkey and OH Partners:

Scott’s LinkedIn

OH Partners’ Website

OH Partners’ Instagram (@ohadvertising)

OH Partners’ Facebook

OH Partners’ LinkedIn

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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