A series of interviews with the founders of independent + successful ad agencies and creative studios.

Matt + Kristen + Joe

Red Six Media

November 30, 2018

Interviewed by: Michael Freedman

In a few sentences, can you tell us about Red Six Media?

Like a good gumbo, Red Six started from scratch. Some scrappy college grads with no agency experience and zero clients got together and said, “Screw it, let’s do it.”

Today, we’re sixteen creatives and strategists strong, and our digital content and integrated campaigns are winning results and awards for brands across the Gulf South. 

Is there a story behind the name Red Six?

In French, “Baton Rouge” means red stick, and our company was founded by six graduates of LSU. Hence, Red Six. It’s a short story, really.

What made you decide to start your own agency?

We started because we loved advertising and we believed (in the wise words of Marshall Mathers) “You only get one shot.”

We thought starting a business was a bit like traveling around the world—do it while you’re young because once you start having kids or a demanding career, the time and money are hard to find.

What were some early challenges you faced? 

Pricing creativity is always a challenge. Making money was a challenge that created more challenges. 

We would take on tiny projects from existing clients because we wanted to keep them happy and overdeliver. We figured we would just do “those types of projects” for major clients, but the projects would add up and really bring down team morale (and our profit margin).

We wish someone had told us that “Just say no” wasn’t only an anti-drug slogan. When we learned to say no to certain projects, brands, and work, we gave ourselves the opportunity to grow.

You’re based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. What’s it like there?

Southern hospitality is alive and well!

We love working downtown; there’s a bar across the street from our office and great restaurants within walking distance. People would be surprised at how many awesome creatives work in Baton Rouge.

How do you approach a new project from a creative standpoint?

No matter the size or scope of the project, at least one of us is heavily involved from start to finish. Whether it’s a large special project and branding initiative, or an integrated advertising campaign, we combine strategy and creativity to solve our clients’ problems. 

Once we’ve completed our discovery and research work, we get our media strategist and creative leads in a room together to get everybody on the same page before separating into smaller teams. As we’ve grown, we’ve learned to keep our media and strategy teams close to our creative teams from the beginning, which has made our processes more efficient, our work stronger, and our team happier.

What’s something you wish clients understood better about your business?

The importance of planning—laying a solid foundation with creative and media strategy before starting on a project. Clients often want to jump into a project without dedicating the proper amount of time and resources to planning. It’s our job to educate and guide them on this step.

Additionally, people sometimes see something and want to do it because it’s trendy. Just because it’s popular for one industry doesn’t make it the best thing for every brand to do.

What percentage of your work is video versus print? Have you seen a change in either direction over the past few years? 

25% is video. Print advertising gets lower every year, but our design department still manages a high volume of custom design projects like annual reports, vehicle wraps, slide decks, etc. Design work is also about 25% of our sales.

We continue to produce more and more video content every year, and we expect those numbers to continue to rise. We’re also anticipating a large increase in media purchased for clients, especially in digital advertising. We’ve made both a part of our sales and hiring strategies.

How have apps and other mobile solutions changed how brands communicate with their customers? 

The growth and emergence of new social media platforms and over the top (OTT) and connected TV have really affected our budgets and our work. Every ad we create is custom and designed specifically for the medium and the platform.

Are there any areas you’d like to expand in over the next few years? 

We’re very focused on growing our media and interactive teams. The reason we wanted to be a full-service agency in the first place was so that we wouldn’t have to spend time nurturing a brand or campaign only to hand it off to another company who could then do whatever they wanted with it.

Building out our media and interactive teams gives us the ability to strategize for clients, produce great branded content, and ultimately reach our target audience with the right message. We’re also able to track a campaign’s effectiveness and monitor its growth—all in-house.

How do you know when you’re on the right track as an agency?  

Happy team. Happy clients. Money in the bank.

Are there any technology trends that you’re particularly excited about using in your work? 

There are more analytics and tracking options for digital ad campaigns than ever before. It’s really exciting for us and our clients to be able to see how our campaigns and websites are performing and to make adjustments based on actual data instead of just on hunches.

What advice would you give someone who is considering launching their own agency?  

Starting a business is a lot like being in college; you’re broke, you’ve got a lot to learn, you stay up all night, and you probably question whether any of it is really worth it. If you’re genuinely passionate about what you do, it will resonate with your employees, clients, and partners. Don’t do it for the money, do it for the passion. If you work hard and sprinkle in some fun, money and success will follow.

There are late nights, tough lessons, and maybe even a little heartbreak ahead—but nothing beats doing what you love for a living and doing it your way.

We’d also like to be able to tell them to get a few years of agency experience first and to specialize in a certain area rather than trying to learn everything, but we didn’t do either of those things, so we can’t. If you are eager to do a good job, take care of your clients, and continue to learn about the industry, our advice is to go for it! 

A big thanks to Matt, Kristen, and Joe for the interview. Check out the great work their team is doing at: redsixmedia.com.

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