Will COVID-19 change the way creative agencies work in future?
Creative agencies will have to adjust to these changes and support the needs of their customers during this period whilst adapting to new ways of working themselves.
Changing the agency structure and modelCreative and marketing agencies provide the support organisations need to keep up to date with the latest marketing trends and are responsible for delivering integrated marketing campaigns that help businesses to grow:
Digital (online) marketing:
- Website design
- Web-based apps
- Search engine optimisation
- PPC online advertising (Google Ads and Bing)
- Content marketing (blogs, white papers, case studies and web page content)
- Email marketing
- Data analysing (Google analytics)
- Social Media Management.
- Press advertising
- Printed materials
- Events management
They combine creative and technical skills together with project management, account management and business consulting all under one roof. This usually requires offices large enough to accommodate all of these employees, together with the additional facilities that go with it.
This model works well for businesses that have a considerable marketing budget and multiple marketing personnel to manage and work with the agency.
For smaller businesses without a dedicated marketer or only 1 or 2 marketing people, these high agency overhead costs could arguably be better channelled into areas of the marketing budget that will increase exposure such as advertising spend or increased brochure print runs.
Will this pandemic change the way agencies work forever?
Will agencies find that they can conduct more meetings without the need for travelling?
Can their employees work remotely and remain just as productive, freeing up office space or getting rid of it altogether?
Growth of the virtual agencyAs more services move online, bricks and mortar premises with high rents and rates are becoming an expensive commodity that, in some cases, do not provide any advantage. The high street is a prime example as we see online shopping figures rise year on year.
The game-changer here has been the ability of online retailers to discount products, make returns easy and offer relatively cheap delivery costs.
Will creative agencies go the same way?
Covid-19 is forcing more agencies to temporarily close their offices or operate with a skeleton staff and make employees work from home.
The game-changer is again technology-led, with better broadband, instant messaging, team management software and video conferencing quality getting better all the time to bring team members together wherever they are based.
Can communications be as effective as getting together around a desk?
Maintaining the same formalisation for virtual meetings as for physical meetings will help. Written agendas with clear instructions on who should attend and what outcome is expected. The same structures still apply for managing time, keeping it relevant and making sure everyone is able to contribute. It can be more difficult to stop everyone talking at the same time on a video conference call, especially if there is a bit of a delay on the line. It takes firm leadership and a bit of patience by everyone present.
Management of remote team members is fundamentally no different to them being in the same office. Lines of communication need to be constantly open. Instant messaging services provide an ideal solution. It can be easier to message than walking down the hall and knocking on your colleague’s door. However, this ease of access can cause problems in itself unless you have a protocol in place to manage expectations and response times.
Will more agencies adopt this more flexible and cost-effective approach to working once the pandemic has run its course?
Freelancers have been working this way for years and you can hire a freelancer for any element of your marketing mix. However, if you want an integrated marketing campaign where all elements are connected and visually consistent, you will need a full-service agency with creative, technical and management skills. If that team is used to working remotely to produce tangible results for their clients, the result will be to provide the same high quality of work at a lower cost.
2 years and countingAt Crystal Thought and Mauve Design, we have been running this model for over 2 years now. Our solution focuses on value for money and quality of service. Mauve Design (branding and design for on and offline solutions) and Crystal Thought (web design and digital marketing).
Are we ahead of the curve in view of the current pandemic? We are already set up and well used to working together remotely.
Using all the latest communications technology for team messaging, management, file sharing and video conferencing, we have learned how to work remotely and stay connected.
Benefits of working with a virtual agency:
- Low overheads
- Select one service or a range of services
- Develop an integrated marketing strategy
- No monthly retainers, unless you need it
- Future-proof, proven concept.
Plan for the end of the pandemicWhile there is a slowdown in activities, now is an ideal time to review your marketing strategy and look at areas that may have to be changed or re-targeted. Using this time to prepare for the upturn, when it comes, will ensure you stay ahead of your competitors:
If you are thinking about:
- Changing your marketing focus
- Reducing costs during this period
- Doing a website refresh or change of content
- Brochure redesign
- Exploring opportunities to increase business
- Working more cost-effectively with your agency.
Mark Langston Crystal Thought
Rob Langston Mauve Design