I have made a big decision: I am scaling back Hines Digital in a return to its roots as a company of one. This is a significant move for me, both personally and professionally, and I thought it worthy of some explanation.
I am truly grateful for the experiences that I’ve had during my time building & leading an agency. I am also incredibly excited about the future. As I looked ahead to the 2020 Election Cycle, and to the challenges and opportunities it brings, I see a path that’s at once daunting and thrilling — and one that’s best trodden outside of Hines Digital’s existing structure.
I’ve put a lot of thought and consideration into this decision, and I thought it would be appropriate to share my thinking with our clients, partners, and stakeholders…
Since I founded Hines Digital as Beag, Inc., in 2015, we have been — like all healthy businesses — in a constant process of evolution and reinvention. Our industry moves at the speed of politics, and that means we need to constantly pivot to anticipate the needs of our clients (and to stay ahead of our competitors).
From the outset, I imagined Hines Digital as a boutique agency; in fact, the word “Beag” means “little” in Irish, and I specifically chose it to remind myself to stay small. The goal then — as now — was to bring user experience design and grassroots organizing principles to conservative campaigns & causes, and to emphasize quality over quantity.
At first, that focus on user experience and organizing manifested itself in award-winning website design and NationBuilder platform consulting. Later, it shifted to an emphasis on effective lead generation and email deliverability. At every step, we did our best to stay small, focus on quality, and continue innovating.
Since 2015, we’ve engaged more than 3,458,619 activists who have donated more than $11,467,608 to conservative campaigns & causes, and supported conservatives in fifteen U.S. states and nine countries, including campaigns & causes at every level of government — earning awards and accolades at every step of the way.
It’s an incredible body of work for a small, fully remote team, and I couldn’t be more proud of my team. But nothing gold can stay.
As the 2020 Election Cycle loomed on the horizon, it became clear that a focus on meaningful client relationships and on solving complex digital organizing challenges was not in-line with what the market demands of a modern digital campaign agency at scale. To continue, those efforts would need to be subsidized by an ever-growing client services business, supported by an ever-growing staff and funded by an endless business development pipeline.
Following that model would be at direct odds with Hines Digital’s ethos as a “little” boutique agency. To continue, and to thrive, in the current market, Hines Digital would have to restructure in a way that was inconsistent with its culture and values.
When I tried to imagine Hines Digital as a large-scale copywriting and ad buying agency, it felt as though it had lost its identity.
“Give a man a fish, says the famous adage, and you have fed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.”
Instead of growing Hines Digital, I am shrinking it to an agency of one: me.
I plan to get back to the passions & principles that have anchored me in my work from the beginning: staying small, focusing on meaningful relationships & quality work, and investing in the success of others.
If you’re interested in exploring ways we can work together, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook at https://m.me/ianpatrickhines. No sales team; no contact form; just me (and I’m responsive).
I am also working aggressively to find new roles for my amazing team members, who have been so central to Hines Digital’s success and for whom I couldn’t be more grateful. If your organization is in need of experienced, disciplined, and capable digital strategists, please contact me directly. I’d love to connect you to them.
Lastly, I want to thank everyone who’s supported Hines Digital over the past four years: our friends, our partners, and most of all our clients. Because of you, we’ve been able to achieve incredible things, and I could not be more grateful.