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3 Questions with Andrew Hardwick - What sets an agency apart from others?

At Social Star, I am very lucky to work with Andrew Ford, who is absolutely a legend with a natural gift for reading people and connecting their passion with their career.
Call me greedy, but for me, one Andrew is not enough.
And that's why I am bringing four Andrews - 4 CEOs of 4 Marketing Agencies together to a panel to discuss the Future of Marketing and how it will affect your business and life.
I shared our chat with Mr. Andrew Baxter - CEO of Publicis Worldwide in my last article where he shared his thoughts on digital and content marketing. This week let's hear Andrew Hardwick talks about what sets his agency apart from others, and why he invests so heavily in hiring the best creative minds in the industry?

the future of marketing


Andrew Hardwick is the Managing Director of Hard Edge, a creative agency that focuses on finding new ways for organisations to communicate their message. Hard Edge is underpinned by innovative brand communications and built on Andrew's desire to form strong relationships with clients and achieve the best possible results for all parties.
His clients include Mercedes Benz, eNett, Mercer and Telstra, and within that network of is a hand-picked team of creative minds who are all linked by a shared goal. This is what differentiates Hard Edge from other creative agencies - Andrew views the company’s value through the lens of his team and how well they operate and invests much time in curating his team.
Social Star: With the advent of high powered smart phones, free design software and the reduction of print media; it seems everyone with a Mac can be a designer. How does an agency ensure their design work stands above the amateurs?
A Hardwick: Jim’s Fish and Chip shop used to survive by word of mouth and a fridge magnet alone. For Jim to be successful now he needs a website with online ordering, SEO, an appealing shop fit out, better quality and choice of fish, printed menus, community charity jars, local area marketing and partnerships, and a brand that is current and inviting.
In short, the world continues to develop and improve in technology and capabilities; for me, this just means that the standard from the baseline improves. Computers can virtually think but creativity cannot be replicated, nor can the nuances of a campaign. So much of what we do as an agency takes in the history of the world, pop culture, the latest trend that has people talking, and so on.

It's not down to one single person either. An agency is a team and everyone is capable of a great idea, from a designer, to a strategist, to an account manager. We collaboratively conceptualise and shape the output.

All that's changed is that as an agency we have more noise and a larger playing field. The advertiser and the budget is what shapes where we play, and we have to play smarter.
Social Star: Working with global brands is a tough business. I'm sure a lot of other agencies would love your prestige car clients. How do you differentiate your business from other agencies?
A Hardwick: Quite simply...people. People are the true differentiator. People are responsible for our output, they are responsible for developing a relationship with a client that creates an advocate, and they drive the culture and attitude within the agency. I would not be here – Hard Edge would not be here after 10 years – if it wasn't for the great people I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with.
Further to that, our culture has to align with our brand promise "to provide innovative and quality brand communications, more cost-effectively and efficiently than the bigger players". 
We leverage our collective experience, skills and personalities to differentiate our agency.

Social Star: There seems to be a labour shortage in motivated, loyal and skilled staff in the agency area. How do you keep your staff inspired and working towards the company goals?
A Hardwick: We provide a great work environment and supportive team culture, then we incentivise with cash and champagne.

In all seriousness, it's ensuring that everyone is aware of and always assessing the company goals and vision; having values that are easy to live by and remember. Ours are "Be Bold. Believe" – simple but effective. We collectively developed these and how they shape our thoughts and actions. 

The key here really is awareness. Everyone in the agency knows how we are tracking on a daily basis, and everyone knows that if the agency succeeds so do they. It may sound surprising but there is often a gap between commercial reality and staff expectations. We are constantly making sure that gap is bridged.
The only way we can succeed is as a team and that really brings us all together. I'm a great believer in sharing success; celebrating the wins, and assessing and learning from everything else. We foster this mindset internally and make sure that everyone is constantly growing and learning.

The other key is...hire ‘good’ people. We have no room for egos and selfishness. ‘Bad eggs’ are not allowed in the carton.

There you go, choosing good staff is like a science - getting it wrong means outcomes are compromised, and Andrew values the relationship he has with his clients too much to risk getting it wrong.
Hear Andrew speak on 6 October, at our panel discussion on The Future Of Marketing.
He’ll be joined by Andrew Baxter, CEO of Publicis Worldwide Aus, Andrew Ford, Founder of Social Star, and Andrew McKinnon, Founder of Taboo. 
If you have a question in mind, send it our way!