As the year comes to an end, slowing economies and sluggish business growth are still realities. While many of us reflect on our business success throughout 2013, I thought I would take this opportunity to look back at the year that was and share the trends that I have identified. As an agency with corporate clients, we have been affected in various ways by these trends and they have significantly changed the way that we operate and even how we approach our business and our clients.
More With Less
We all know that budgets are shrinking and we are being challenged by our clients to produce the same great work but with less to play with. As a result, agencies are becoming increasingly creative and we are seeing some fantastic campaigns, targeted and clever, that have been born from smaller budgets are achieving great results for their brands.
Pipeline – New Business
Things have really slowed here. Traditionally, it would take three to six months to convert new business whereas we are seeing that timeframe extend to a more realistic figure of twelve to eighteen months. Keeping the pipeline flowing is critical to an agency’s success, or any business for that matter. Just when you think you are about to get a business decision, it’s put on hold. With this in mind, it is integral for any business to be aware that projections can be very changeable and to not rely solely on existing forecasts.
Testing and ROI
In my work in the brand activation space, I have always advocated testing. Particularly in the current economic climate, clients are more cautious and as a result testing with smaller budgets is increasingly being carried out before larger rollouts take place. As well as this, clients are focusing more and more on proving ROI and are looking more closely than ever at measurement and evaluation techniques.
There seems to be a shift towards less planning and strategy and more ‘knee-jerk’ marketing and advertising. An increasing number of short-term tactical campaigns focusing on pricing and promotions, rather than brand, are hitting the market. Many clients are looking over their shoulders at the competition and instigating quick-response reactive campaigns.
One trend that I am embracing is the collaboration of specialist partners working as teams to bring brands to life. I have been part of such a team recently, working on a large multinational where my role was to manage the consumer promotional elements, as well as a smaller start-up, to develop the overall marketing strategy.
It doesn’t seem to be one-size fits all anymore – it’s the best team to deliver the best outcome against objectives. Teams of specialist smaller agencies who are great at what they do, offering personalised relationships, versus the larger ‘we can do everything’ agencies.
So what does this look like for 2014? I think we are still going to see more of the same but a little more positivity and an upward trend on budgets. The government has now changed and business is settling into a stronger pattern.
Make sure you are planning for 2014 now and if you slow down over Christmas, take the time to update your credentials and website and other marketing materials. Time out at the end of the year is important so that you can come back refreshed and get your agency or business ready to kick-start 2014.