top of page


Good, fast, or cheap—you can have only two. This so-called iron triangle is as true for advertising as for every other industry. But for advertising to continue to thrive, it’s time to eliminate this triangle once and for all.


Every brand hears a version of the iron triangle the moment it starts talking to an agency—although, if we’re being honest, it’s often more like, “It will be good, but it will take a lot of time and a lot of money.” And we still have a tough time delivering on the good. The problem is the hierarchy, red tape, and accepted practices we’ve baked into the agency model.


Imagine a typical agency: The best and brightest climb through the ranks until one day they stop being part of the work. They are managing people, chasing new business, and putting out fires. They talk to clients, but only when absolutely necessary. The result is that the people best equipped to solve a brand’s problems are the least likely to be available to solve them. And then they trot out the same four-month timeline regardless of the ask. We call this the traditional agency model for a reason.


We’ve been conditioned to think this process is the only one that can work—that we need 20 people on an account, multiple briefings and a whole lot of budget to even begin working toward a solution. Until we break out of this hierarchical structure, we will never be able to move at the pace a good idea deserves.

4 Strategies to Move at the Pace a Good Idea Deserves

What if your most experienced people weren’t bogged down in meetings? When senior talent is given time to truly focus on a client’s problems, the solutions flow quickly and abundantly. Eliminating the hierarchy allows for insights at a fast pace. When solutions aren’t tied to a year-long, multimillion-dollar retainer, they may not be cheap—but they can be achieved for a fraction of the cost. Here’s how to get there:


Create a Client-Facing Senior Team

Rather than relying solely on your C-suite for expert-level input—their time is already more than 100% allocated—create a small team of experts whose primary function is to solve client problems. This allows you to tap into the learned experience of top-level executives without having to wait weeks for your C-suite to become available. A dedicated team with the availability to support your clients will prove itself to be invaluable by providing quick solutions and allowing uninterrupted workflow.

Match Teams to the Challenge


Another crucial part of this model is treating each situation with a fresh pair of eyes and the willingness to adapt our process to find a solution. When met with a unique problem, start by asking yourself a few questions: Are the 20 people in the account team all necessary to solve the problem? Do they all have the right experience and skill set? Do we need multiple meetings to hit the ground running?


Asking these questions forces you to build an intentional team, not just the obvious or easiest one. This also allows you to tailor each team to each project, making sure the expertise and taste level of each team member is perfectly aligned to solve the problem. This naturally leads to expedient solutions because you've assembled a team that has seen this type of problem before and knows how to deftly navigate it.


Build Efficient Teams


The bureaucracy within agencies stifles creativity and causes good ideas to die before they can be brought to life. And, from the client's perspective, it’s a common frustration that the leadership team they fell in love with during the pitching process is no longer available to them once their business has been won. Those are the minds that they trusted to solve their problems, not the junior team that ultimately ends up running the account.


If you give your executives more time to get their hands dirty, output will increase in both quality and speed, and that doesn't just save the client money—your agency benefits, too. Along with your clients, your junior team members benefit from this shift. By giving them regular opportunities to collaborate with the best minds in your agency, they will learn faster and progress more quickly toward becoming part of the leadership best equipped to serve your clients.


Embrace Fractional Talent


There is a time and place for strict processes, but as our industry evolves this means adapting to remote, freelance and fractional talent. We have seen senior leadership take a step back from traditional roles in pursuit of fractional, consult-based roles. Instead of losing exceptional talent, we have a great opportunity to adapt.


If creating a full-time, senior team dedicated to solving client problems isn’t in the budget, you can still access that level of expertise without having to add more on to the plates of your existing C-suite. Fractional work lets brands access the cream of the crop in an environment that allows them to focus on the work.


It feels strange to say that senior talent can save money but think about it as hiring a master carpenter instead of a handyman. Both can build a wall, but the master carpenter can do it faster, with more precision and fewer mistakes. Which—if we come back to your business—may not be exactly cheap, but it’s definitely cheaper.

Redefining Success: A Strategic Approach to Healthcare Marketing in Today's Landscape

by Susan Savoie

Related Thinking

bottom of page