Yin-Yang and the art of running a digital marketing agency
According to the ancient philosophy of Taoism, there is a universal balance that we can observe everywhere we look in our world. In today’s blog I want to explore that balance and show how it can help in the smooth running of a digital marketing agency.
Actually, the notion of yin-yang predates Taoism (also known as Daoism) which incorporated ideas from the School of Yin-Yang. Put very simply, because I don’t want to get carried away, ancient thinkers had observed the interplay of opposites across many areas – day and night, hard and soft, male and female, predators and prey; also summed as active and passive.
What they had observed was that in the natural order of things, a balance between the two forces is maintained and so in order to live, work and love harmoniously, people needed to respect that balance and find it within themselves and allow it to influence how they interacted with the universe. So it is across every aspect of your digital marketing agency but before I explore that avenue, let’s look at the principle of yin-yang a little more closely.
Hawks and doves
This is an excellent example of how both sides of the spectrum are interdependent. Hawks are birds of prey. Doves are prey. If we imagine a space occupied only by hawks and doves, initially the hawks will prey on the doves. The hawks will increase in number while the doves’ population will steadily decrease. However, this cannot go on forever; fewer and fewer doves available to a growing hawk population.
As a shortage of doves develops, a situation of famine starts to arise for the hawks and they begin turning on each other. As these battles for resources increase and become more desperate, the situation leads to fatalities within the hawk population. On the other side of the coin, with the hawks fighting among themselves, the dove population has a chance to grow until there is an abundance of doves for the smaller population of hawks to feed on…and the whole cycle is restarted.
Day and night
Change is a key part of existence – the only constant. As we saw with the hawks and doves analogy, a situation where mostly hawks exist or mostly doves exist cannot be sustainable. Likewise with day and night, too much darkness would mean the plants cannot photosynthesize and if we had only sunshine how would that affect the circle of life? Let’s look at the interplay of active and passive principles within a digital marketing agency.
Managing the team
Recently, I looked at the comparison between transformational and transactional leadership. We can definitely see a balance between active and passive elements in the leadership of a marketing team. If the management is too prescriptive with rigid working hours, a one size fits all approach given to different situations and tasks, an atmosphere of micromanagement then you’ll often find that creativity and any genuine passion for doing a great job will be crushed by the more important urge to tick the right boxes and conform to company rules.
Alternatively, if there is a lack of control and management with team members spending indefinite periods of times sitting under the apple tree waiting for divine inspiration, nothing will get done and productivity will be killed. There has to be a balance.
Likewise, if the ideas come from management then the team become minions and their talent is wasted. However, a creative team that is running off with the ball without any clear direction will lead your digital marketing agency nowhere fast.
Yin-yang can also be applied to employee conduct and disciplinary procedure. Happiness has been proven to improve productivity. If you manage your digital marketing team with a whip, you are hardly nurturing an environment of happiness and innovation. Then again, if there is no sense of discipline at all, how are projects going to run on time and within budget?
How do you manage your digital marketing team? Do you keep them on too tight a leash in terms of productivity and free thinking?
Managing your clients
Some of your clients will come to you with very definite requirements, even demands. They are paying good money for your service and they want bang for their buck. Yin-yang comes into play across a range of client related issues.
Who is taking the lead? Your clients spend with you because they want to tap into your experience and expertise. However, they will sometimes have their own ideas on what they want and will certainly make it clear how they want to benefit – ranking top of Google, more customers, greater average order values…you name it. If you allow your clients to dictate how you operate you will lose any control you may have on achieving the KPIs. If you take full charge of the project, you could be alienating your customer and so had better be sure you deliver on your promises.
Even at the start of the relationship, good business is built on flexibility and negotiation. Think about it. The ideal scenario for your customers is for you to be doing everything for free and the ideal outcome for a business is to be making as much money as possible for as little activity, but both sides know there is no love in that and no mileage, and ultimately nobody benefits from either of those positions. They are unsustainable positions. Just as the balance of dominance between the hawks and the doves will swing between the two, when it comes to the love you give to your clients and the benefits you reap in return, there will always be an element of give and take.
It is all about recognising the balance and recognising the importance of a healthy relationship. On every front – payment terms, the hours worked, dealing with issues – negotiation and mutual respect is key. You must always find the balance between being too rigid or too flexible.
Team interaction – siloed or joined at the hip
Your team players will need peace and quiet sometimes, the time and space to be able to think, feel, let their minds wander, tap into their creative juices or to compare and contrast various options. They also need to interact with one and another, collaborate and decide on team solutions to meet client needs. Again, if your team spend all their time collaborating and chatting in meetings, you will have a talking shop with no action. Alternatively, if your digital marketing team is actually a group of individuals who overly focus on what they have to do with blinkers on, then you won’t have a team and you may not have a product.
Give and take
Whether we look at leaders and marketing teams, your digital marketing agency and your clients, it is the relationships that make the world go round. Even if we look at how your marketing team addresses a problem we will also see a balance between, for example, the tried and tested compared to the radical.
It is always about give and take. In my opinion, good business starts and finishes with trying to give your clients the best customer service possible. Love your clients. They are the reason you set up an agency! You also have bills to pay and you are entitled to make a profit. The same applies to your employees. Without them, you have no company so you love them. If you run the right balance they will love you back and they will love your clients.
So what’s yin-yang and how does it relate to the art of running a digital marketing team? Always seek to understand both sides and sit yourself flexibly between the two. The real art is knowing when to push and when to yield, when to act and when to leave be and that comes with openness, a willingness to learn and lots of experience.