20 years ago knowledge sharing between agencies was rare. The main sources of information were publications such as The Drum, Advertising Week, NMA, Campaign. They usually only covered the ‘big’ agency news. Then there were a few industry bodies like the IPA and DBA who played their part in educating our sector on best practices.
Today plenty of communities exist for agency owners and team members. Networks where knowledge about our industry is shared and skills exchanged.
The purpose of these communities is to bring together like minded people working in agencies. Create a safe environment where they can talk about all of their challenges and get support from their peers. Some of the common questions being debated in peer support communities are:
Below is a list of some of the most important peer support communities for agencies.
The Agency Collective is a peer support community specifically for agency owners of all shapes and sizes. Primarily made up of agencies with less than 10 staff. It is a great community for agencies starting up and looking to just get a grip with all the basics of running a sustainable agency. Most of the discussions between members happen on their Slack group. The Agency Collective also runs online and offline events, inviting speakers from the agency world to provide content. Finally The Agency Collective has an extensive content library with videos on many topics for agency owners.
It’s most suitable for startup agencies.
An incredibly caring community.
The Wow Company is an accountancy firm for agencies.
£129 per month
Agency Hackers have established themselves as a peer community for the entire agency. A lot of the other peer communities are solely for leadership teams. Like the other communities, Agency Hackers is for any size and type of agency. The range of events are wide and they bring in great speakers, held on a weekly basis. There is also an M&A marketplace that you can register to as an agency, should you be looking to buy an agency or sell your agency.
Open to everyone in the agency, not just founders and leaders.
The founder is Ian Harris, who’s had a career in marketing prior to setting up Agency Hackers. He also runs a digital transformation community call WeTransform.
£150 per month
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Polymensa is your non-ego board of advisors. Taking a different approach to how individual traditional agency non-executive directors and peer communities operate. Polymensa only works with agencies with a minimum 20 employees - and is specifically relevant to agency founders who have never worked in an agency or at board director level at an agency.
Access to multiple advisors from within our industry and outside our industry, with advice tailored to your agency size (20 - 50 employees) and a peer group made up of humble agency founders.
Polymensa founder Daniel de la Cruz met over 3,000 agency owners in his career to date. He’s also on a mission to explore the parallels between other sectors, celebrities and the agency world - to provide novel insights to agency leaders.
The founder is
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A big part of this community is built around the learnings from the founder, Robert Craven. Who wrote the book Grow Your Digital Agency. Robert has spent many years coaching and advising agency leaders, specifically in the marketing space through a close partnership with Google. Many search agencies therefore gravitate towards this community. But not exclusively.
Input from agency advisor Robert Craven
The GYDA Initiative is a growth consultancy for agencies.
£99 per month
For years it was rare to see black agency founders. With time more and more have taken the opportunity to step into unknown territories and build some fantastic agencies in the process. However, there has never been a peer network dedicated to black agency founders until now. Josh Akapo is on a mission to facilitate important discussions in our society about diversity and bring all black agency founders in the UK together.
Shared experiences unique to black agency founders
Inspiration to aspiring black agency founders
Josh is part of the BIMA 100 squad. An agency owner, marketeer, mentor to minority groups and student at Kings College.
This organisation that has its roots from over 30 years ago as was formerly known as the MAA and Marketing Agencies Action Group (MAAG). They have since transitioned and provide a great range of services to their community. As members of the Advertising Association they work alongside the other major trade bodies across the industry and the only ones representing exclusively representing independent agencies.
Having over 50 members they are smaller than some of the other communities mentioned in this article, but also have traditionally worked with larger agencies.
Engages with everyone in the agency via 9 Peer to Peer Action Groups and has GreenJam as a great initiative to inspire young marketing professionals. Other benefits include:
Matt Sullivan is Managing Director who supports 3 Co Chairs (Laurence Parkes, Dino Myers-Lamptey & Ruth Kieran) who Chair the 3 Pillars of People, Purpose and Performance under which the 9 Action Groups sit.
Clive Mishon & Graham Kemp
£75 - £250 per month
BIMA is an industry body and therefore has the deeper purpose of helping our industry, charities and academia navigate the complexities of tech. BIMA is not exclusively for agencies, but a lot of agencies are present in the community. They run a lot of events to give agencies a voice and champion topics such as diversity and ethical use of artificial intelligence. A very valuable service BIMA provides is their peer mentoring system, where you are paired up with other agencies. BIMA is run by their members for their members. At its core they are over 20 different councils that inform everything that BIMA does - from sustainability and data through to growth and leadership - profiling, learning or networking.
BIMA is available to all members of the agency team
Peer mentoring (buddying system)
An executive committee of 13 members that is voted by the community.
£50 - £400 per month (charge per annum)
The Supper Club is a peer support community for entrepreneurs. It is not exclusively aimed at agencies - although it has a lot of agencies in the network. The benefit of being part of The Supper Club is that you tend to mingle with founders of medium sized businesses. There are no micro businesses or consultants in the community. You also get insights from people from different sectors, giving you a fresh perspective on how to run your business.
Agencies above £500k fee income
Mix with founders of other industries
The founder of The Supper Club is Duncan Cheetle who is well networked amongst entrepreneur circles.
£250 - £400 per month
This community is a collective of agencies from around the world. The global aspect makes it particularly interesting as you get an insight into what agencies do in other countries. They also let advisors into their network. SoDA runs a global summit that tends to have great speaker. Unsure of whether that will continue, it’s definitely worth checking out the network anyway.
Agencies from around the world for a global perspective
Set up by a former agency owner, an agency partner and a consultant at Agency Agile. Now run by a group of board members from creative business around the world.
Unknown to us
Agency Local is a community for the owners of sub £1million agencies. Started in the Thames Valley and now countrywide. Firstly we are a community for like minded agencies, with a mission is to provide the necessary support to create better businesses and to help agency owners become better leaders. This is achieved through a mixture of peer to peer support as well as learning and development opportunities. Insight, Collaboration and Inspiration.
The founder is Chris Bantock who ran an agency for 12 years and sold the business in 2018.
£95 per month