Vox Pop: Biggest lessons of the credit crunch years? (Part One)

This week, we asked the Drum Network’s member agencies the following question…

Q. With reports that the UK’s economy is now ahead of where it was before the credit crunch, what has been the most important lesson you have learned as a business owner during the last five years?

Dominic Benton, managing director, TRT Direct -

Over the past 5 years we’ve stopped trying to find an answer for every type of direct advertiser. Instead, we have created a clear point of difference by focussing on a very specific sector (high growth, e-commerce brands) and building our business to serve a very particular need in this sector (accountable and scalable TV advertising). As a result, we’re now the obvious choice for a clearly defined advertiser type, and we know we’re headed for some exciting growth over the next 5 years.

Saman Mansourpour, managing director, The Agency -

We set up our agency in the first month of the recession (not by design). It was an uncertain time where many clients simply suffered financial paralysis. However, we quickly learnt that setting up and growing a business through a recession is far easier than driving into one full of passengers. We also noticed that viable mid-sized agencies were quickly being acquired and rolled into larger networks resulting in client turnover and creating an opportunity for smaller fledgling businesses like ours to move in. Budgets may have been tighter, but ambitious corporates use recessions to buy market share. So the strategy we applied was find the right niche and find the right clients and there are opportunities aplenty, but you will just have to work a bit harder to spot them.

Andy Donaldson, director, Hit Search -

“The most important lesson is to continue to innovate. In a service led agency environment, clients are interested in working with partners at the very cutting edge of their respective space(s). A successful business, regardless of the economic climate, is therefore providing a blend of accurately managing the basic client campaign delivery channels, whilst proving cutting edge research to push the envelope and test new areas.”

Alan Cooper, founder & new business director, Freestyle Interactive –

The first lesson we learned was how much fun you can have taking a bank into social media in 2009. It was refreshing being stretched by their desire to improve their business, engaging with an audience with the lowest level of trust since the invention of bartering!

But the real lessons over the last 5 years are about sticking to your values, no matter what, and preparing for the future. At some point it will be better, so don’t drop your standards of recruitment and work quality, no matter what the commercial pressures.

Trying to predict our industry is hard enough in buoyant times, so you have to be even more flexible and reactive when clients are uncertain of their own future. That means swift decision making, and getting even closer to clients to understand their issues and how best to solve them.

Becky McKinlay, managing director, Ambition Communications Ltd -

We’ve learned that recessions focus the mind – there’s no room for complacency or lack of hunger as new briefs become increasingly competitive to win and budgets become tighter.

Buying agencies on cost per hour basis has become seen as a short term strategy. Braver clients and agencies have looked at how creativity can thrive in low budget environments – finding new remuneration models which encourage both parties to look beyond hours / skill set remuneration and into how agencies can be immersed in the success of their clients and rewarded for creating value.

Freelance talent has improved enormously too, as those that have been made redundant and have embraced a more flexible working environment. Things will never be the same again!

Read Part Two...

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