Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Looking Forward

The end of an experiment

At the beginning of May this year, Estipona Group set out on a six-month virtual agency experiment. As we approach the end of the “experiment,” I have looked at the data and reached a conclusion. My business can flourish in a virtual environment.

As for proof of our success, I point to our efficiency rate as an agency. Prior to going virtual, we worked one month with the new web-based software. During that month the software measured the team’s efficiency rate at 100%. The software derived this number based on estimates compared to actual hours spent on a job. From the beginning of May to the end of September, our average efficiency rate has been 148%.

Another indicator of success is our collective improved quality of life. While I have no scientific numbers to support this, I can personally say that I spend more time with my family and feel less anxiety than I did five months ago. While I may find myself working the same amount of hours, I am able to better break up my time to accommodate my family. As for the other members of EG, I just noticed that Paige is no longer screaming at me everyday so I can just take that as a sign of improvement.

Finally, you can’t argue with the bottom line. In the five months that we have been away from the traditional office environment the company has been able to save $50,000 in office related expenses. This has definitely assisted in improving our margin during a time when others are seeing a decrease in margins.

So what have I learned during this experiment?

I’ve learned that clients don’t care where you do business as long as the work is on strategy, on time and on budget.

I’ve learned that to make a virtual environment work you must work twice as hard on your communication skills.

I’ve learned that technology does not always work the way you planned, so you better have a back-up plan.

I’ve learned that you don’t need a fancy building to do insanely great work.

Finally, I’ve learned that I am lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the best people in the world – people who I am proud to have on my team.

This is not the end, just the beginning.

While the experiment has ended, I believe that this is only the beginning of a new journey for Estipona Group. The one common theme in this economy that I have notice is that ALL THE INDUSTRY FORMULAS ARE BROKEN. Just because something worked in the past, doesn’t mean it will work today. With that in mind, we have two choices, either sit back and wait while others create the new formula or be proactive and create a new formula that works for us. Obviously, we have chosen the latter.

While it is still early, we have seen others in the industry taking a similar approach. We know of at least one established ad agency that had decide to go virtual since our experiment began and we see others in other industries moving in the same direction. Last week, the RGJ reported Deloitte & Touche Reno, an established accounting firm, has announced that their 18 office staff will be moving virtual. While this may not indicate an overwhelming trend, it is evidence that perhaps we are on to something with larger implications than our own little agency.

So from this day forward, our blog will no longer be titled “the six-month virtual ad agency experiment.” Moving forward, our new title will be “EG Hatching – Ideas and observations about modern-day marketing”.


  1. Ed, is that you when you were a small, red headed caucasion boy?

  2. My mom always said I was born blond, maybe I can pull off the small red head caucasion look.