Starting a Creative Firm in the Age of Digital Marketing


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As large agencies have struggled to adapt to the digital age, they have come to rely on these freelancers and specialists. These specialists have begun forming shops of their own - the new modern version of the agency. Increased marketing fragmentation and brand's need for specialists means that the time has never been better for a freelancers or niche service providers to build their own small firms. All they're missing is the guidance they need to find their footing.

While specialist agencies and freelancers are highly skilled, most have a lot to learn about the mechanics of starting and running an agency. Many of these specialists come from a different background than those who traditionally started agencies: they come from the internet, not the ad world. In Agency, Rick Webb provides a comprehensive guidebook - giving readers the knowledge, strategies, and understanding they'll need to make the exciting transition into a modern creative services firm. Drawing from his experience running his own digital ad agency and working with countless innovative tech start-ups, Webb focuses not just on how to get started, but how to survive in a competitive marketplace. This is a hands-on master class in everything that the agency manager needs to know. From understanding small business banking, to deciding how to price a job and manage procurement, to winning new business, Agency provides everything from basic business and leadership skills to insider tips and industry information. Webb outlines the shape of the ecosystem in which new agencies will be finding their place. Packed with personal anecdotes from his time starting and running the highly successful Barbarian Group, Webb provides practical techniques for building an agile company.

Modern agency upstarts need a different sort of education, and Agency provides a remarkable crash course.


Praise for Agency

Agency is full of incredibly valuable insights and advice for startups of all kinds delivered with candor, humor, and wisdom.” —Allison Arden, VP Publisher, Advertising Age, and Author of The Book of Doing

 "This is not just a book. It's the playbook I wish I had when I started my company. It's the motivating nudge that recharges my reserves of inspiration. It's the real talk, often humorously delivered, that so many of us creative entrepreneurs need. Thank you, Rick, for the best PSA I've ever encountered." —Baratunde Thurston, CEO and Co-Founder,  Cultivated Wit and Co-host, TakePart Live on Pivot TV

“Rick Webb has written the ultimate keep-it-in-the-top-drawer-of-your-desk, straight-talking, 'every single thing you could possibly want to know' guide to starting, running, growing, and selling your own creative agency. It doesn't get any more helpful, practical and down-to-earth than this. Rick's achievement is to deliver actionable pragmatism while at the same time challenging readers to think differently about the business they do. As the saying goes, you need to know the rules to break them. I hope Rick's highly enjoyable read inspires as many people as possible to do their own thing in our industry, in a way that collectively changes it for the better for everyone.” —Cindy Gallop, Founder and CEO, IfWeRanTheWorld/MakeLoveNotPorn

“Since Confessions of an Advertising Man was first published, it has been considered the definitive book on advertising. Now at last, there’s a book for the digital age to challenge it. Rick Webb’s Agency is the book David Ogilvy might have written if he were alive today. A must read for anyone who is practitioner or student of marketing communications.” —Rick Boyko, Former Co-President/CCO Ogilvy North America, Director,  VCU Brandcenter

Agency should be required reading for everyone in the business of helping clients achieve their goals with words, pictures, and ideas.  Rick Webb is a font of practical advice based on his experience founding and growing one of the most successful next generation agencies around.  Whether you're just starting out or trying to drag your old school shop into the 21st Century, this is the book for you.” —Steve Hayden, Vice Chairman and Former Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide

Agency is the unvarnished truth about starting and running an agency. Its thoroughness will change the lives of many agency owners. But it’s its transparency that might have a larger impact - asking "why are you doing this?” and possibly even rescuing some from going down a path that is not for the faint of heart.” —Michael Lebowitz, Founder and CEO, Big Spaceship

“Rick Webb's Agency dives deep into all the things you could, should, and will probably end up doing when you build your own agency. He shares invaluable lessons from the advertising/marketing world and beyond. A must read for anyone who has the dream of building their own company.” —Doug Jaeger, Partner, JaegerSloan, Former President, Art Directors Club

“This is the book I wish I was able to read before I started my agency. It’s filled with lessons I learned the hard way. If you’re even considering starting an agency, read this book before you do. It will either scare you out of doing it, or inspire and lead you towards building the next great shop. Agency will be your Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” —Ian Schafer, CEO, Deep Focus

When I sat down to take a look at Rick’s book I grabbed a pen because I suspected there would be a few gems worth underlining. Rick is bright and brutally honest. Turns out I underlined, exclamation-pointed, and asterisked almost the entire book. Anyone in business would benefit from giving Agency a read.” —Susan Credle, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett, USA

“There aren't many tools out there for folks building modern creative firms, because so much has changed in terms of what clients and consumers want. It is the wild west in many ways. Rick has done an excellent job of ripping the bed sheet off of the old agency model and making us all stare at how strange it is to operate that way in today's world. He has actually been in the trenches successfully doing the work that he is writing about, so his advice is relevant and credible, which makes it easier to get behind and put into practice.” —James Moody, Co-Founder and CEO, Guerilla Suit

“A compendium of everything that all the smartest people in agencies have ever told me, but that I'd long forgotten. This is less of a book, more of a call to action; I found myself plotting my own start-up well before the half-way mark.” —Ben Malbon, Marketing Director, Creative Partnerships, Google