RBA Has No Right to Exist According its CEO
by W. Ross Cromartie
Why #LearnForLife is such a critical core value.
Some good advice I received a while back —
“Always remember what business you’re in. Always remember how you provide value“.
In this age of unprecedented opportunity, it’s critical to remember that absolutely nothing we have at RBA is guaranteed. No one has to hire RBA. No one is forced to pay our bills. If we can’t provide value that clients are willing to pay for, we’ll run out of money and go out of business.
RBA has no right to exist. RBA only has reasons for our clients to buy.
We aren’t entitled to anyone’s business. If clients can get a better deal somewhere else, they have no reason to buy from RBA.
- if clients can get it cheaper somewhere else, they will.
- if clients can get it better somewhere else, they will.
- if clients can get it faster or easier somewhere else, they will.
- For us to survive and grow, we have to earn our place with every client, every day.
These are basic concepts that should seem obvious when we take a step back. But if we’ve been in the weeds too long, focus can blur, and “striving to excel” can devolve into “good enough”. From there, it’s a short walk to mediocrity.
This world waits for no one
Our world is a fast moving beast. It’s filled with the tombstones of companies who thought they were untouchable and who lost track of how fast conditions were shifting beneath their feet. The day you stop pushing, start etching that gravestone.
That’s why I believe our core value #LearnForLife – the relentless pursuit of progress, efficiency, and utilization of new technology – isn’t just fluff. It’s essential to our survival at RBA.
If we aren’t moving forward, we’re gonna get left behind. Competitors who adapt to new technology faster than we do will offer better products and services at a lower price than we can. Clients will move accordingly, and why shouldn’t they? We’re all running the same race here, and it’s moving faster than ever.
That’s why the flipside of #LearnForLife is #LearnOrDie. Getting complacent isn’t just missing out on potential gains, it’s potentially fatal.
We all have competitors who want to eat our lunch.
Big firms want to crush us
- If we stop moving faster than big firms, they can roll over and crush us without breaking a sweat on price, product, and scale.
- To compete, we have to move twice as fast, stay agile, and embrace every technology advantage.
Comparable firms want our share for themselves
- In our industry, there are zero barriers to entry. We don’t have a patented product, proprietary resources, or access to a protected market. Anyone crazy enough to start an agency can compete on a level playing field.
- To win the championship, every specialist has to bring their talent to the table, add an ounce of passion, and work their tails off to integrate with the team. It’s pretty simple – the team with better teamwork wins.
Someone with a camera phone and a computer is trying to take us all down
- Someone is always willing to do the job cheaper. They have no overhead, no preconceived hang ups about “the right way to do it”, and nothing to lose. If there’s an app or an AI tool to do the thing 10x faster, that’s what they’re going to use. There are thousands, probably millions of people like this out there who would absolutely love to take our jobs.
- To keep the hordes at bay, we have to use the advantages we’ve got – resources, experience, and a team of specialists. But if that experience is holding us back from looking at new ways to solve old problems, it’ll bury us.
Which brings me to AI: we are looking at a true industrial-revolution scale disruption in marketing
AI is the most game-changing technology in the marketing industry since the internet. This isn’t hyperbole, if anything I’m understating the situation. Firms both big and small are frantically working on adapting to these changes and monetizing them, lest we all be swept away in this market tidal wave.
Big firms – the firms we are supposed to be lapping in terms of adapting new tech – are already working on incorporating AI into their workflow. Big firms who dwarf us in terms of resources and ability to scale. If we aren’t embracing AI tech FASTER than big firms, we’ve already lost.
Freelancers – who are even more agile than us – are embracing it at comparative light speed, and evidence is popping up everywhere.
Clients – It’s only a matter of time before they’re asking, then demanding to see how we are incorporating the “latest and greatest technology” into our service offering. If we aren’t showing them how we are staying ahead, they will look elsewhere for the cutting edge. As they should.
Check out this trailer which was created in large part using AI tools and tell me this isn’t a game-changer:
If you had asked for a ballpark to create something like this ~7 years ago when we started RBA, I’d have said we’d need a massive production and post-production team, months to work on the CGI, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. At least. Now, in 2023, a handful of passionate fans created this Hollywood level trailer in their spare time. With virtually zero budget.
A massive opportunity for smaller creative firms
AI tools level the playing field, and allow small teams to create big projects. This is earth-shattering for marketers and video creators, and it’s a massive opportunity for small firms like RBA.
For my money, it’s the most exciting time ever to be a creative working at a small firm.
More than ever, small firms like RBA can produce work at a quality level previously only achievable by massive studios with correspondingly massive budgets.
More than ever, a firm’s ability to create amazing work is limited only by their imagination and their creativity, rather than by their resources.
But that’s only true IF we embrace the power at our fingertips. #LearnForLife means we can choose to embrace new tools and become better at what we do. #LearnOrDie means we can also declare we’ve got it all figured out, give up learning, and elect to let erosion dig our own graves.
The choice is there for all of us.
Just don’t wait too long, because the world sure isn’t waiting for you.
Are you passionate about fostering a culture of continuous learning within your organization? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!