When I started The M Network as a branding and advertising agency back in 2004, the motto on which the company was built was, “The M Network should be a blessing to everyone that comes in contact with it, in the same measure if not more than it has been a blessing to me.”
Back then I was working out of my garage. To be perfectly blunt, I was just trying to figure out how to get stuff done.
My first goal was to find talented individuals to hire and complimentary, small companies with whom I could partner (we now call them “Affiliates”). This overall concept, I believed, would allow us, as team, to go out and get bigger clients and service them far better than any of us could have approached individually. Today this concept is commonly referred to as “crowd sourcing.”
My second goal was to find clients I respected in industries and areas I had a passion for.
When the recruiting and partnering was complete, I knew the people I had surrounded myself with were talented. I had my doubts, however, as to whether potential clients would buy this new model.
Much to all of our surprise – it actually worked.
The fact was that, because of how the Network was constructed, we could do things better, faster and a heck of a lot cheaper than the big marketing firms we were competing for business against.
The other advantage the Network model gave us was flexibility. Every client had a team, custom built around them and their needs. Whenever a new need arose, or their marketing goals changed, we adjusted the team.
Because of our unmatched flexibility, capabilities, quality, and pricing, we quickly found ourselves working with some of the most respected brands in Miami.
Joe’s Stone Crab, The University of Miami, The Children’s Trust, The Early Learning Coalition, they all signed on with us and, by doing so, they boosted our reputation as one of the best and highest quality firms in Miami.
As this Network/Affiliate approach rapidly expanded our capabilities, it also rapidly expanded our client base. We grew into an agency that was doing work locally, nationally and internationally and we were doing business throughout a vast array of industries and boasting a ridiculous diversity of capabilities.
By 2009 we opened up a 6,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility with multiple production suites and a bunch of employees.
By all accounts, we were exactly where most guys dreamed of taking their companies.
But I’m not most guys.
What bothered me about the company that I built is that it now looked an awful lot like the companies we were designed to compete against. We had gotten top-heavy and fat and, because of this, we found ourselves in need of taking every single job that came through our door.
The breakpoint came when a very powerful publicist from Las Vegas brought a big-time Hollywood director by The M Network studios to talk business. While showing them around the place we popped into an edit suite only to find that one of my teams was hard at work editing a series of television commercials for some personal injury attorney or pain clinic we had picked up.
Upon seeing the low budget, “accident-chaser” spot on the screen, the big-time director simply said, “Guess we all gotta pay the bills somehow.”
This is what I had built. I built a company that would take just about any client because “we all gotta pay the bills somehow.”
This isn’t what I wanted. We needed to get back to our original principals of being a blessing to others and we needed to get back to our original goal of doing good work for good people. But how?
Soon after this realization, my team and I found ourselves naturally moving in that direction.
The clients that compromised the founding principal of The M Network were purged. To make up for the lost revenue, we shed weight, closing the big production facilities and, instead, allowing people to work from home.
We invested in technology to keep us all connected and instituted systems to ensure we were all meeting, in person, regularly.
Finally, we began educating our clients as to our new “virtual” working dynamic.
Once again, I had no doubt that the people that now made up The M Network – our employees, our contractors and our partner companies – were incredibly talented and unbelievably resilient. I had my doubts, though, as to whether this new “virtual” model would be accepted among our clients and potential clients.
Much to my surprise, though, this new structure was more than accepted. Not only did our clients embrace this new way of working, more than one of them has since looked into copying our model, working to allow their employees to work from home.
Today, The M Network is bigger and broader than I ever imagined it could be. We keep a modest facility with a couple of production suites and small “brainstorming” area. For the most part, though, we all still work at home.
For some of us, home itself has changed. The freedom to work from anywhere has liberated members of the team to live wherever they want. We now have people working from home throughout the country, in big cities and in rural towns. In turn, as our people have moved to different locations, they have networked and expanded our list of “Affiliates” who have, in turn, brought in brand new clients.
My own working from home experiment directly resulted in The M Network being able to recruit one of the best PR minds in the business to join the team. The former managing director of an IPG Public Relations Company, and a veteran of such clients as Wal-Mart and Staples, is now in charge of PR for The M. The fact that this powerhouse is also my wife certainly helped in the recruiting process. (I’m pretty sure she just wanted something to do that would get either her or I out of the house … but I digress.)
And so here we are. After a long and winding road, The M Network back to what we always should have been.
Our capabilities have expanded so much that it’s hard to continue to call The M Network a branding and advertising agency. Because when it comes to helping people and organizations communicate better…
“We can do anything… We choose to do good.”
Thanks for visiting. Enjoy your stay.