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Don't give them free creative! Great piece Ewan
There aren't many other awards with the standing to match it these days, you're right on that Patrick. I do like the German Design Award though - in terms of branding / design, it's the award of awards and you have to win something nationally to be invited to enter; however this is more sector specific - http://www.german-design-council.de/nc/en/design-awards/german-design-aw...
I concur Duncan. In many ways, it's more and more a strategic role, finding a way into a prospective company and what the best method is - an old fashioned letter, a clever DM piece, a well placed comment via linkedin etc.
Finding an agency that 'gets' the benefits is a good indicator of why they continue to be successful, McCann's, Saatchi's, Profero etc. The role helps them grow, keep an eye on what's going on in the market and of course keep on top of leads and a healthy pipeline.
As for procurement, it goes back to strategy. If it's a big pitch you'd be mad (or presumptuous) not to understand what their parameters or concerns were, outside of the marketing department.
Finding the right medium for sending through correspondence is key too. For some, an old fashioned letter will open doors an email cannot - likewise a message on linkedin will often be responded to rather than chasing 'that email you sent the other day'.
I am however a fan of email provided the context is right; short, compelling, asking a key question, addressing an issue. Intuition and experience in knowing when to send something is what comes with the territory. You could even separate this down to certain days being better to approach someone
Convincing clients to use agencies up here will always be a challenge; it's true that many private sector clients are using London agencies regularly and the Government needs to do more to ensure diversity of interest in the regions (I include the English ones and Scotland). One thing agencies up here can do is avoid ever thinking parochially; yes be proud we're Scottish and the talent pool is great up here but approach it from a UK mindset. I know companies who are doing exceptionally well in Scotland, are expanding into the north of England, Dubai, Amsterdam, you name it. These companies would benefit from a Scottish agency who thought like a UK national one or a pan-European one. I love the quality of life up here, I think the creative scene is immensely talented but when we start talking to clients as knowledgably about Leeds, London or Norwich as we can do about Scotland, then they will see more merit in simply basing their creative requirements here (IMO).
The point of lending is key too; the more robust, longer term agencies who have worked well within their financial constraints are surviving but not necessarily due to help from the bank. Lending it seems is still frugal.
As for the legal sector, I agree with Kevin. There are issues such as de-regulation and it will mean more mergers but there is still plenty of business up here; renewables, field to plate, just ask a legal eagle
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New poster for the office! Thanks @TheDrum! Smashing issue by the way - no pun intended #smashingmartian