Tim Curtis on Bridging the Gap Between Data and Creativity

Tim Curtis, President and CEO of CohereOne.

Greetings, digital marketing enthusiasts! We’re back with another power-packed episode of the Agency Accelerator podcast!

This week, we had the pleasure of hosting Tim Curtis, the President and CEO of CohereOne, on the show. Tim, with his wealth of experience, delved into the intricacies of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) within the agency space, offering invaluable insights for agency owners and entrepreneurs aspiring to scale their digital agencies.

Tim Curtis on the Agency Accelerator Podcast

The Journey to Exit: Tim Curtis’ Unique Perspective

Tim kicks off the episode by sharing his journey into the world of M&A, shedding light on the unexpected twists and turns that led him to become the Group President and CEO of CohereOne.

He emphasizes the importance of maintaining an open mindset, being prepared for strategic partnerships, and actively seeking opportunities for growth.

What to Look for in an Agency Acquisition

As Tim dives into his M&A experience, he provides a roadmap for agency owners looking to position their ventures for a successful exit.

He outlines the critical factors to consider when acquiring an agency, emphasizing the need for synergy and serendipity. Tim’s unique approach involves not only securing a cashout but also ensuring a continued partnership to secure the future.

Navigating the Unconventional: The CohereOne and Midland Partnership

Tim recounts the unexpected journey that led to the acquisition of CohereOne by Midland, a packaging and paper supplier. The strategic partnership between a digital agency and a physical product provider might seem unconventional, but Tim unveils the alchemy behind this collaboration.

By leveraging Midland’s extensive network, CohereOne strengthened its position in the market, creating a win-win scenario.

Pro Tips for Agency Owners: Tim Curtis’ Insights

In a candid conversation, Tim shares some hindsight wisdom for agency owners considering an exit strategy.

He highlights the importance of self-promotion, urging agency owners to invest in showcasing their strengths and preparing for external scrutiny.

Additionally, Tim emphasizes the significance of explicit and implicit benefits in the negotiation process, urging agency owners to focus on long-term opportunities beyond the immediate gains.

Strategic Thinking: Choosing Between Vertical and Horizontal Integration

Tim rounds off the episode by offering practical advice for agencies contemplating their first acquisition or exit. He advocates for a thorough SWOT analysis, urging agency owners to assess their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats objectively.

Tim provides insights into the challenges of horizontal integration, emphasizing the need to align client service approaches and navigate the complexities of technology stack integration.

Integrating Cultures: A Delicate Dance

Tim emphasizes the importance of approaching culture integration with respect and acknowledges the inherent blind spots that often accompany cultural assessments.

He suggests starting with a small working group, often in new business development, to facilitate a gradual merger of cultures. Taking time to examine culture and setting clear expectations helps in creating a smoother integration process!

“…culture is one of those things that oftentimes is a blind spot… the closer you are to something, the less objective you become. It’s just the way that our reptilian brains are made.”

Identifying Blind Spots: Exercises for Success

When it comes to identifying blind spots, Tim shares his method of approaching the situation as if it were his first 90 days. This exercise involves walking through a discovery process, being observant, and seeking outside perspectives.

He highlights the significance of feedback from individuals not directly associated with the culture, such as those from the vendor community or partner programs.

Gaining Employee Buy-In: A Leadership Strategy

To ensure a smooth integration and gain employee buy-in, Tim suggests involving the senior leadership team early in the process.

By socializing the concept with this team, which comprises a mix of extroverts and introverts, different perspectives are considered. This approach helps in refining ideas, addressing concerns, and ultimately gaining the support of internal leaders who can advocate for the changes within the organization.

Maintaining a Positive Culture: Keys to Success

Maintaining a positive culture during mergers involves transparent communication and addressing individual concerns. Tim emphasizes the need to honor introverts’ processing time and encourages leaders to know what they’re going to say, keeping it concise yet impactful.

Preserving an open culture and actively seeking input from team members helps create a positive momentum that contributes to long-term success.

Reflecting on Entrepreneurial Journey: Team Building Triumphs

Tim Curtis shares that the proudest moments in his entrepreneurial journey come from hearing partners commend his team members. The deep relationships forged within the team, where individuals express their commitment and admiration, are the most rewarding aspects of his professional career. 

The positive growth and strong team dynamics contribute to a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

If You Couldn’t Fail: AI as the Accelerator

In a hypothetical scenario where failure is not an option, Tim expresses a desire to leverage AI for unlocking new possibilities. 

Specifically, he envisions AI understanding user intent in marketing, providing personalized recommendations based on transactional history, and enhancing the overall customer experience. 

Tim sees AI as a potential accelerator in revolutionizing how businesses interact with their customers and cater to individual needs.

The Power of Diligence and Strategic Vision

As we wrap up this insightful episode, Tim Curtis leaves us with a call to action for agency owners: take a break, conduct a deep dive into your agency’s strengths and weaknesses, and strategically plan for the future.

In Conclusion…

Whether you’re on the path to acquisition or contemplating an exit, Tim’s experiences offer a treasure trove of lessons to guide you on your journey.

Buckle up, listeners! The road to agency success just got a lot clearer with Tim Curtis as our guide.

Tune in to the full episode on the Agency Accelerator podcast for an in-depth exploration of Tim’s journey and expert insights into the world of digital agency M&A. Don’t miss out on the strategies that can turbocharge your agency’s growth!


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