Small By Design Supports Big Growth
3 Owl is a nimble team of creators and thinkers building custom, data-driven creative solutions that adapt to clients’ changing needs and support transformational growth.
In the highly competitive field of creative agencies, 3 Owl was a small company intent on winning more big brand opportunities. Rootstock collaborated with founder David Feldman to write and publish a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling book — Small By Design: The Entrepreneur’s Guide for Growing Big While Staying Small. With the book as its centerpiece, Rootstock’s thought leadership campaign for 3 Owl led to new client relationships, invitations to speak at major industry conferences, and a minority investment in the agency.
Problem / Challenge
A small and relatively young creative agency, 3 Owl had won a few contracts with national brands, but in the early days, founder David Feldman still struggled to convince new prospects from large corporations that his boutique agency could be trusted to grow their big brand equity.
Feldman could have pretended that 3 Owl was bigger than it was. Indeed, as detailed in Small By Design, early in his entrepreneurial journey he attempted to do just that. But by the time he decided to write his book, he knew he didn’t need to apologize for the size of his agency.
He knew that he didn’t need a big agency with hundreds of employees and layers of hierarchy in order to serve major corporations well. His own prior experience working for an international communications firm had shown him firsthand how size often got in the way of transformational creative solutions.
Clients who took a leap of faith with 3 Owl were quickly convinced and became evangelists who spread the word of what the little agency could do. In time, big new clients started reaching out, saying that they preferred 3 Owl’s small, responsive, fully engaged team.
Feldman wanted to share the lessons he had learned about building and running a high-impact small agency while advancing his own position as a thought leader in the field.
Already on retainer with 3 Owl for about two years, Rootstock had worked with Feldman to clarify, refine, and articulate his unique thought leadership position, and promoted his ideas through a wide-ranging ecosystem of content, connections, and clout. These had included a regular column in Forbes as part of the Forbes Agency Council, case studies and feature articles in leading industry publications, prestigious agency awards, podcast interviews, and high-profile speaking engagements.
We proposed to Feldman that the body of thought leadership we had created together had the depth and substance to craft a book around. In it, he would boldly argue for the benefits of small agencies. And he would share his hard-won wisdom on how to design a small agency to have a major impact on clients’ success. Not only would we make the case for why big brands should work with boutique creative agencies; we would establish Feldman as the founder who had literally written the book on how to run a small agency well.
Feldman agreed, and we set out on a year-long process together to outline, draft, edit, publish, launch, and promote the book strategically to serve the 3 Owl brand and Feldman’s reputation as a thought leader in his field.
Meeting weekly, we talked through his ideas for the book, refining them as we went. We also collaborated with Feldman to interview about a dozen other thought leaders. These included founders of intentionally small companies like 3 Owl and leaders from large enterprise organizations who already understood the value of working with smaller agencies. Their stories and insights were then included in the book to illustrate Feldman’s thesis. The interviewees were strategically chosen to form or strengthen key relationships, many of which led to new opportunities for 3 Owl even before the book was completed.
As the book began to take shape, we also worked with Feldman to secure a publishing agreement with Morgan James Publishing, a respected publisher with a strong presence in the business book category. And as the book’s launch date approached, we collaborated with 3 Owl to plan a launch party and a media push.
Results / Benefits
In the spring of 2022, Morgan James released Feldman’s book, Small By Design: The Entrepreneur’s Guide for Growing Big While Staying Small. In its first week, the book made the bestseller lists of the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and it was the #1 bestselling business book on Amazon.
One of the people Rootstock recommended Feldman interview for the book became a minority investor in the agency, giving 3 Owl the capital and new connections to accelerate their growth. Feldman was able to build a team that could handle all client services, allowing him to focus on expanding his agency.
Feldman himself was named a “40 Under 40” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He has been interviewed about the book on several globally top 1% podcasts and won prominent speaking engagements, all of which are helping to build his thought leadership reputation even more.
With long-term ambitions to teach and become active on the paid speaking circuit, Feldman is well on his way to establishing himself as an authority in creative entrepreneurship. He’s the founder who wrote the book on how small creative agencies can make a big impact on their clients’ success… and he already has an idea for a second book.
“Rootstock’s guidance kept me calm, focused, and energized. And all of that amazing thinking has informed so much more, like high-value content for my agency, future speaking engagements, talk tracks, and new relationships.”
David FeldmanFounder and Director of 3 Owl
Strategically craft, publish, and promote a book that will serve our client’s success.