Is there any agency owner out there who doesn’t feel like every year is going to be our last? How many writers have to use world-ending, groan-inducing rhetoric before we hold hands across America and bury these turns of phrase?

Let me be clear: I by no means believe the existence of agencies in their current form is a sure thing. But I also don’t believe the existence of any company in its current form is a sure thing. Adapt or die.

10 years in, I’m still not sure I know what I’m doing. On that and other concerns that keep me up at night.

Is there any agency owner who didn’t live with some amount of fear in 2020? From fear for our health and that of our employees to the fear we wouldn’t have enough money in the bank to make payroll, there were any number of reasons, micro or macro, to make an agency owner feel a bit unsettled last year. And though the year may have changed, those fears have not gone much of anywhere.

All this alongside…

The landscape of digital marketing is changing. How will your agency adapt?

Digital is evolving! Agencies need to be ready to adapt! The future is uncertain!

Heard these sentiments before, right? Probably in 2013.

Probably in 2014.

Probably in 2016.

Probably in 2018.

Probably…you get the point.

In fact, I know you did, because when we started Digital Natives Group in 2011, we were one of the firms relying on this anxiety to build our book of business. Our plan was to rely on our relative youth, both as individuals (and now I’m showing my age) and as an agency, to win over clients looking to improve their digital marketing efforts.


The best part of any project is the kick-off. Spirits are high, ideas are plentiful, and the mood is light. Anything is possible, because everything is possible.

I like to think about projects like ice sculptures. We start with a big block of ice and as we learn new things, as we trim the ice, the true shape of what we are creating begins to reveal itself. By the time you leave the (Zoom) room from the kick-off, you’ll have begun to see the form of what you might be working on take shape.

I’ve read some ice sculpture artists…

One of the most difficult parts of running an agency is finding the right clients to partner with. When we were first starting Digital Natives Group, we would take just about any business that came our way. There was no scope too small, no demand too ridiculous for us to handle. But we were young, both professionally and personally, and needed to do what we could to pay our bills and build our portfolio.

Once we were a bit more established, we started to shed the relationships that didn’t work for us. Firing clients is never the point you want…

After the US Capitol was seized last week we sent a clear message to our team at Digital Natives Group: you come first. Stop working, cancel your meetings, and do whatever you need to take care of you, your loved ones, and your mental health. As an agency committed to living our values, we knew we couldn’t expect our people to wade into the minutia of social media analytics or social ad copywriting while the fate of our democracy hung in the balance.

However, as an agency, our values often brush up against our client goals. We do our best…

Jonathan Jacobs

Partner @ Digital Natives Group, Advocate #SlowListening, Traveler, Mets Fan

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