Top 5 Reasons We Won Agency of the Year

Top 5 Reasons We Won Agency of the Year
Edward Estipona
Agency News

I'm going to start this off with a disclaimer: I don’t have the official score card from our 2022 Advertising Agency of the Year (Under $10M) win from the American Advertising Federation's Best of the West Media Awards. But as a student of the industry — a long-time student, I’ve been at this 30 years — I have a pretty good idea why we find ourselves here right now, recognized as a leading west coast agency. 

Reason #1 — We’re doing work that matters

It’s not by chance that our client roster is filled with mission-driven organizations. Hope Means Nevada, Northern Nevada HOPES, Immunize Nevada, and Nevada Cancer Coalition are among the organizations making a positive impact in our community and have chosen to partner with us. The Best of the West Media Awards recognize “excellence in media and service to the community,” and while this is subjective, our clients are doing really meaningful work. In fact, I feel the work we’ve done in the past two years is the most important work I’ve done in my career, especially the Hope Means Nevada Youth Suicide Prevention Campaign, and our efforts to get Nevadans vaccinated against COVID-19, via the 3 Million Reasons campaign and the State’s Vax Nevada Days effort. 

Our agency has also taken a lead role in promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and accessible design in marketing communications. We not only advocate for making communications more inclusive and accessible with our clients, but we advocate more broadly, chairing the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion task force, consulting with area businesses on DEI policy, and producing ADA design guides that are available free to the public.

Reason #2 — We prioritize data

I’ve long recognized the value of using data to inform marketing strategy, but the tools available have just improved tremendously in recent years. The way our internal teams and partners collaborate is where the magic happens. We’re digging deeper into the data, prioritizing collection before, during and after our campaigns to ask more questions, find better resources, and, as a result, develop more effective solutions for our clients. We employ a variety of first-party data sources, including focus groups, enterprise digital survey platforms, AB testing, and social media polls. We’re also using second and third-party data like Google Search trends and website data, Google Analytics, native platform data, and industry research. 

This approach consistently delivers more effective work. For our Youth Suicide Prevention Campaign, effective meant saving lives. During the campaign, we were able to track 4,057 anti-suicide actions taken, and a 103% increase in Google Searches around “Mental Health,” during the campaign. We actually helped normalize the conversation around mental health in our state. 

Reason #3 — A culture of empowerment

Employees have a voice and they have autonomy. We have really worked to cultivate an environment where every employee feels they can and should contribute and speak up, even if that means criticizing the boss (constructively, of course), or offering input on something outside of their official job description. In my experience, good ideas can come from anywhere.

As a virtual agency for 14 years, we have built a team of self-starters that don’t require micromanagement. Employees have the autonomy to work in the way that works for them. People I speak with are pretty surprised to hear that 90% of agency decision-making is done by my team, not by me.

Reason #4 — Long-term relationships

Strong, long-lasting relationships lend themselves to trust, and in our business, trust lends itself to good work. We have clients we’ve worked with for 10 years or more, and many clients who have changed jobs and hired us years later in their new position. We also have longevity in employees (our Creative Director is on her 20th year!), facilitating stronger team connections, more efficient collaboration, and, frankly, just better work.

Reason #5 — We know what we don’t know

I built this agency on the premise that I wanted to surround myself with people who were smarter than me (see my note above about decision-making). This same premise informs how we operate as a team. We seek experts who know things we don’t and can offer resources to help us do our jobs more effectively. From a media partner’s unique placement to reach the elusive young male target for our youth suicide prevention campaign, to insight from area religious leaders about why their community is vaccine hesitant — we acknowledge when we need help, and we ask for it. So, these reasons may be different from the actual reasons the American Advertising Federation awarded Estipona Group Agency of the Year in 2022. But these are the reasons that, 30 years in, I’m more excited about the work we do than ever before.

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