Firebrand turns seven this month as we face our first slowdown in the tech sector. And TLDR – we are stronger now than ever.
While we all knew the ZIRP-fueled growth could not last, you can’t be sure how an agency (or its startup clients) will handle its first taste of adversity. Did we make the right investments? Do we have the proposition? Will our client roster continue to thrive? Just how strong are those relationships? You can’t know until they are stress-tested.
Recessions have swept aside many agencies. They overcommitted on long-term property leases. They had too little cash at bank to cover payroll. They had too high client concentration. They were overpriced. They just weren’t that good. On the outside in the boom, all rah-rah success but with a hollow core.
Except for a few earth-shaking days around the SVB crash, this recession has been more like a slow squeeze than the stomach-clenching drop we all witnessed in 2008. That was the ‘bath-shaped’ recession; there was no grip sliding to the bottom, but it found a steady state once there. The last three quarters have felt more like wrestling a boa constrictor – sometimes your eyes bulge but you feel full of strength at others. The downturn is still clinging onto our leg today, but it seems the danger has passed.
You don’t beat the Recession Boa by standing still, and so we have been busy. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Developed our Multiplier Marketing methodology to show the power of integrated programs
- Launched our Content Marketing practice under the leadership of Nicole Pytel
- Launched a partnership with Demandbase and another with Ruler Analytics
- Set up the Firebrand Labs team to explore the impact of GenAI for our agency and clients (see our first reports here, here, here, here and here)
- Won the Boutique Agency of the Year award from the PRSA
- Created and launched ebooks for Content Marketing and Digital Marketing (and one on the way for PR!)
- Launched a podcast, FiredUp! (see the trailer here)
- Added a bucketload of client testimonials and case studies to our site
- Hosted our first winter all-hands gathering – FireFrost!
- Written 34 blog posts and revamped our newsletter, The Forge (sign up here)
- Launched our Friends of Firebrand program with the first wave including SIREN, CommsCo and Hit Subscribe
- Announced a UK/US PR partnership with CommsCo for scale-ups looking for international PR
All this is on top of delivering for our clients every day. They have been our primary focus, and we are thrilled to partner with them. We’ve seen a definite trend in our clients relying on us for more integrated services (see, that Multiplier Marketing approach is real), allowing us to be a more strategic partner. Thank you and keep it coming!
I’m not an economist, but I am an optimist, so I believe our sector will pick up in the last quarter of this year and strengthen into 2024. That Recession Boa will have to hang on tight if it wants to keep up as we sprint into our eighth year!
Morgan McLintic is the founder of Firebrand. With over 25 years’ experience in the tech sector, he advises clients about their marketing and PR strategy. Prior to Firebrand, he was the founder of digital communications agency, LEWIS in the US, growing it to 250 staff and $35m revenue.