Expert to know: Eric Hirschhorn (Q&A Interview)

August 14, 2023

Eric Hirschhorn is a Partner at bloomfield knoble (based in Dallas, Texas), listed on 50Pros as a top 50 firm in Advertising and Digital Marketing.

In this Q&A, Eric shares his in-depth perspective, unique background, robust experiences, and insightful tips.

What is the best piece of advice you've received in your career that pertains to your work, and how has it influenced your decisions?

Relationships that are based on need and trust work best. At the beginning of bk I met with a CMO that we were pitching for long-term solutions. As we discussed goals and needs the CMO said to me, "I want you to help grow our business and we want to help you grow yours." Such a simple statement but we have lived by it ever since. A true client partnership is about understanding the value in both directions. Nearly 23 years later, we are still working and supporting that same person.

What do you like most about your industry?

The relationships. Over the last 25 years, the work stands out, but the accomplishments are due to the people and efforts we supported. After one-quarter of a century in the industry, client acquaintances become trusted friends. You can't set out with a group of people to achieve something amazing in this industry and not share respect. To be valued by the people we work with is a point of pride. To be trusted year in and year out, for two decades in some cases, a natural friendship builds and that reward continues even after the work is complete.

What do you wish people knew about your industry?

To work with an agency requires understanding and pre-planning. Too often we meet with a company that is not prepared and believes an agency approach is akin to a 'silver bullet.' But without full transparency, planning, and goal setting, success is not attainable. In such cases we either let that client know they are not ready for an agency to support them. Or, if they have a strong understanding of their own direction, we provide the 'guard rails' and walk them through the steps necessary to be successful with their advertising goals for years to come.

What is your approach to continuous improvement and learning within your agency?

The bottom line for any successful venture is continuous improvement. We empower that through ongoing education for creative, project management, digital solutions, and other core skills. Additionally, we seek out 'certified' training for our teams where most relevant. In addition, we continuously review, debrief, and apply what we have learned after every campaign or project. If an issue is encountered, we apply strategic planning to develop a process and apply that ongoing improvement by applying measures against the baseline we have set. By following this goal of continuous improvement we know we have been successful based on client tenure, which is 7.5 years. We have clients we have worked with continuously on a daily/monthly basis for 15+ years. This is how we know we are achieving continuous improvement for them and our agency.

What is the biggest issue that your firm, or firms like yours, face?

Forecasting. In order to provide a successful agency solution, you have to have a staff that is enabled for success. This requires commitment from clients to include your agency in its annual planning. By understanding the need and investment from the client side, an agency can commit to investing in its staff to develop continuous improvement from brand guidelines to product knowledge to legal and regulated requirements. This drives cost efficiencies and time savings for the client. Without forecasting, an agency must 'patchwork' talent from other clients to work on a brand they are not familiar with. This leads to mistakes, higher costs, etc.

What changes do you foresee occurring in the future?

That remains the same as the last 20 years -- the evolution of digital tools. From content management systems to marketing automation tools, the landscape has changed daily. Look at ChatGPT and what it has done to the industry. Storytelling is the heart and soul of an agency. Understanding the impact of the tools clients can access and use on their own, replacing skillsets once owned by humans impacts not only the story but the people we have entrusted to tell that story. Being prepared to adapt is all we can do for the ever-changing future.

If a company was looking to hire your firm, or a firm like yours, what questions should they ask themselves as a team before approaching you?

This question is an enigma in some ways. There are also the elements of trust and alignment. That said, questions should focus on outcomes and processes to achieve desired outcomes. Clients should seek success stories about current clients and the solutions the agency provided to make success a reality. Mainly, companies should seek to understand how an agency has enabled others through well-thought-out solutions to their unique issues. While the tools might be similar, the application and assurance of quality should be top of mind.

How do you maintain strong relationships with clients to ensure long-term partnerships?

By realizing we are only as important as our last effort's success or failure. We are not words of affirmation and that should not be expected. Renewing a contract and including an agency in a long-term partnership is built through trust. Business relationships have their "tough" moments. It is how an agency responds, transparently or not, that builds trust. Dedication to continuous improvement that the client can witness through interaction with staff and executive teams ensures that a client understands their supreme importance to your agency. Obversely, understanding your agency's importance to the client is part of that process.

What role does networking play in growing your agency's business?

Networking is the key to successful growth next to continually providing excellent work and success.

What else would you like to share about your firm or agency?

Celebrating our 25th Anniversary March 2023.

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