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Innovation – aka, don't let a good crisis go to waste.

The Wall Street Journal's small business innovation competition shows how businesses can succeed in a poor economic climate by using the realities of the marketplace as a source of new business models and product offerings.

This made me pause to think about our small business, Barrie D'Rozario Murphy.  Starting an agency on the eve of the Great Recession is a focusing experience.  And while we were named in 2009 by the 4As as the "best small agency in the U.S.", we believe we've gotten better since because we started rethinking what marketers need from an agency.

Our clients needs ideas – not just TV ideas; not just print ideas; not just banner ad ideas.  They need the best solution for the problem at hand.  Any agency that specializes in one solution, whether that is TV or interactive or social media, is the proverbial hammer that views all problems as nails.

We deepened our commitment to being an agency with "no walls."  No walls between us and our clients; no walls between us and other partners working for our clients; no walls preventing us from discovering new and innovative partners that can help our clients succeed; no walls between people of different disciplines.

"No Walls" has inspired us to design smart phone games to sell a la carte travel options for United Airlines (using gamification as a powerful communications strategy).  We created an extensive iPad app for Medtronic to tell its corporate brand story (the modern version of the :60 corporate branding effort traditionally reserved for Sunday morning news programs).  We created social media savvy street teams to launch Best Buy's eBikes program (the new way to link local events to a larger audience).

And throughout this journey we haven't lost our advertising mojo, having created beautiful print, TV and promotional programs that have been recognized with Gold Lions in Cannes and EFFIE Awards from the American Marketing Association.

The morale of the story.  Never led a good crisis go to waste.  Rethink everything, and discover something even better.

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