The Power of the Node

Todd

In Wichita, there are seemingly hundreds of options for securing creative talent. We have a large number of traditional advertising agencies, countless interactive firms and no telling how many freelancers who are all willing and able to tackle a logo, brochure, website or comprehensive marketing and advertising campaign.

In the midst of this massive number of choices, yet another option is cropping up. One that shares some similarities with other creative partners, but is unique in some key, critical areas. This new model is based upon “nodes,” individuals or small teams who collaborate and come together complete a specific project.

A Hollywood Production
In the movie industry, most people aren’t employed in the traditional sense. There are audio experts, world-class cinematographers, wiry boom operators, visionary directors and much-needed best boy grips. These individuals move from project to project, called upon when their particular expertise is needed. But they’re not on a payroll. They don’t get paid unless they work.

Through nodes, we can simulate the Hollywood model to produce amazingly high-level creative products, while keeping overhead low by building a specific team for a specific project. So if you need a brochure, we bring in a writer, designer and production artist. You never see or – more importantly – pay for a web designer. But if it’s a virtual brochure you need, we can simply augment that team by adding an online specialist to the project. Once we’re done with the initial brochure, we might downsize the team to a project manager and production artist for simple updates or reprints moving forward. You get what you need, without spending money on what you don’t.

So What’s In It For You?
As I see it, there are several key benefits for clients who choose to adopt this model:

  1. Unbeatable value. As individuals or small shops, our overhead is much, much lower than larger, traditional agencies. We don’t have to pay 30 salaries, benefits, unemployment, social security, etc. Typically, our offices are small, modest affairs, with many of us working out of our homes; or if there is an office, it’s a shared, collaborative, co-working space (more on this coming soon, hopefully). And our new business practices don’t often involve expensive dinners and nights on the town (a bummer for client prospects, but only in the short-term – we’ll gladly take clients out on the town after a successful relationship is ignited). All of these factors and more help us offer an incredible value for what we do. NOTE: That’s not to say that the node-solution is going to be the cheapest. Read on to point #2 for why that is.
  2. Phenomenal talent. This may be hard to believe, but traditional, larger agencies don’t hold a monopoly on talent. In fact, there’s been an interesting exodus away from traditional agencies for many talented individuals who are interested in establishing their own businesses, are looking for greater flexibility and freedom, or are worried about their job security. This means that clients can tap into an incredibly deep well of talent and experience.
  3. Holistic support. One of the biggest benefits and reasons for working with an agency is greater consistency across your marketing efforts. There’s no disconnect between a freelance copywriter in Derby, designer in Augusta and programmer in India – the client team is working together, for you, day-in and day-out. But just like a blockbuster film, the noded model has executive producers – the individuals who are responsible for providing the high-level oversight for a film. These producers, or project managers as they’re more commonly referred to, help ensure that your brand stays consistent and that the selected team members are the right fit for your specific project. They also serve as the day-to-day contact, handle all the billing and make sure deadlines are met.

Just The Beginning
There are more discussions that will be brewing about the noded network in coming days – both here on my blog and on others’ who are buying into the node model. If you’re intrigued by the model and want to learn more (particularly if you’re an independent professional and want to start a node of your own), you should check out the official Noded website. It has some great information and a link to download or purchase Noded: The Untouchable Business – a great book and worthwhile read.

What Do You Think?
So for those of you out there reading this, what do YOU think about the noded model? What areas are interesting? What needs work? Would you consider trying the model as a client?

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2 Comments

  1. October 21, 2010 at 11:07 am — Reply

    We use the Node model in our organization. We have a contract graphic designer, website developer, copy writer, database developer who work on an ad hoc basis. It is much more affordable and they often collaborate with out us as the conduit.

    Great post!

  2. October 22, 2010 at 10:58 am — Reply

    The node model is definitely where I would be happiest. Of course, it assumes mutual respect between all of the contractors AND the executive suite, which is often a hard balance to achieve/maintain. It benefits businesses to nurture a relationship with talented and motivated creatives but sometimes I think businesses prefer to use and burn out talent.

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The Power of the Node