Mediaweek’s Hot List, compiled by contributing editor Greg Graham, celebrates the work of Australia’s best and brightest agencies.
Half Dome has been dubbed “hot” for a second consecutive month following a hot streak string of wins for the Melbourne-based agency.
The agency’s head of growth and managing partner, Joe Frazer, spoke to Mediaweek about receiving the recognition, the key to their recent client wins, and the outlook for Half Dome in the year ahead.
Making the Mediaweek’s Hot List
Frazer was proud Half Dome received the recognition from an industry leader such as Graham, alongside other great agencies. “We look at some of the other names on that list and pinch ourselves that we would be named alongside them,” he said.
“We’ve won a few awards over the last few years. It’s nice to be recognised not just for the growth but for the work we’re actually doing as well,” he added.
The criteria for making the Mediaweek Hot List include new business success, current client retention, momentum, and industry acclaim and buzz.
Frazer said that the agency had a period of growth two and a half years ago and before going to ground for 12 months to focus on client retention and ensuring their workflows and processes were servicing their existing clients well.
The managing partner shared that they made an active decision to re-attract growth again 12 months ago and said: “I think what we’ve been really happy to see is that the efforts that we’re putting into that are starting to bear fruit.
“We’re excited not just about the last six months where we finished a couple of good clients from a size perspective, but the way in which we’re marketing ourselves is starting to attract the types of clients, culturally, that we want to be working with,” he added.
The head of growth explained that in the past, they would pitch for projects and go through the process to concede they were not the perfect cultural fit for those clients.
“Now that we are starting to be distinctive in the way we’re positioning ourselves in the market, it feels like the clients that are coming to us already know a bit about Half Dome, about the way we operate and the products we’re delivering,” he said.
“The clients we have been able to pick up, as a result, feel like the types of clients that will stay for a long period of time,” he added.
What makes Half Dome “hot” and the key to their recent string of client wins
When asked what makes Half Dome “hot” and what sets them apart, Frazer noted that they do an excellent job of pushing the boundaries from a people perspective.
The managing partner said the agency has progressive workplace initiatives and people strategy around flexibility and the newly introduced Unlimited Leave. He said: “We see that being a massive differentiator in our ability to attract the best talent and keep the best talent.”
Frazer said the key to Half Dome’s string of client wins was simple, with the agency’s decision to attract growth again 12 months ago.
“As a result, we’ve launched a marketing function, which we feel is doing a really great job of getting Half Dome’s name out there. Even more recently, the way in which we’re positioning ourselves really gives clients a good sense of what they’d get if they work with Half Dome.
The head of growth also noted that at the same time they conducted a review about the way they approached pitching and, as a result, have “completely overhauled that process.” He said that the agency’s goal is to be the most professional pitchers in the market and added: “We think we’re a lot closer to delivering that promise.”
Frazer also noted his move into a role that is specifically focused on an active focus on their business had given the agency: “time, space and capacity to be proactive”.
Half Dome’s solid partnerships and their current work
In addition to a string of client wins, Frazer noted that Half Dome has also had several successful partnerships – two he was particularly proud of.
“Our partnership with The Good Guys, one of our longest serving clients and a client that has in many ways grown our product around. I think that the work that we’ve been able to deliver, in combination with their team, has been really exciting for us as a business to see.
Frazer said that Covid had been a massive impact on delivery methods in the retail industry and added: “We’re proud of the way that we could help them navigate the pandemic and coming out of those lockdowns as well.”
Frazer highlighted their recent work with their foundation client, the law firm Morris Blackburn which recently underwent a brand re-launch.
“I think the way in which our team supported that brand re-launch with media, the results that they’re starting to see off the back of that are really exciting,” he said, noting that they worked with creative agencies and partner agencies on the project.
Frazer also noted that among their most recent wins they are beginning work on is with Ego pharmaceuticals, which was announced a couple of months ago.
The impact of the pandemic
On the pandemic, Frazer noted that it neither had a positive nor negative impact on the business but changed how it operated.
“I’d say that when we look at timelines, we don’t necessarily anchor everything to COVID or lockdowns. We anchor it to other events that are happening in our business.
“I think entering that COVID lockdown, we had gone through a period of really strong growth in the lead-up to it. Our focus shifted to client retention, making sure that we’re delivering high-status, highly satisfying products to our existing clients.
“Towards the end of that COVID lockdown, almost coincidentally, our focus shifted as a business. On the back of that shift in focus, we’re happy that our focus on growth has been rewarded to date. But I don’t necessarily think that we exceeded our expectations or fell short. I think it was on the back of shifting focus as a business,” he added.
Outlook for Half Dome
Looking to the year ahead, Frazer noted that they hope to continue to grow in their core discipline of being core media specialists. The agency also hopes to launch into some new markets and continue to foster working relationships with US-based clients.
Frazer also shared that the team at Half Dome have been “actively exploring” opportunities in SEO and CRO and what it could look like for their existing and future clients.
Top image: Joe Frazer