5 challenges facing a creative agency in 2014

So what are the issues facing a creative agency? In this insight a team who specialise in creative internal comms ideas reflect.

by Alan Oram

We’re a pretty robust bunch of guys at Alive. We’ve even chosen to adopt a moose as part of the team. A splendidly powerful, determined creature, seeking supremacy, commanding respect and all that good stuff. It’s one of the ways we’re approaching life in a competitive industry in order to achieve success, become a super-profitable creative agency and smash our goals.

Admittedly it goes a little deeper than downright dogged determination, but it’s a good place to start!

Now, there are challenges facing every man and his moose in all business sectors and by no means are we exempt. There are also the exclusive problems that are commonly encountered by creative companies – a unique set of worries to overcome. We shall continue to fight the good fight with bullish optimism and press on! In the meantime, here are a few of the burdens we bear: 

Discovering new creative talent – A 2013 survey of over 38,000 employers by ManpowerGroup revealed that 35% experienced difficulties filling jobs due to lack of available talent. This clearly has a huge impact on our ability to meet our clients’ needs. We really believe that we must nurture confidence in creativity at a young age because without creativity, we can’t create great ideas! And this is the main reason why we regularly visit local schools and colleges to spark imagination in fresh new talent. We’re also currently on the hunt for a small team of apprentices to join our squad!

Growing at a progressive pace – so here’s one for us all. And with the multitude of methods available where do you begin? Recruiting new expertise, forming strategic alliances with other creative companies, opening additional offices, licensing a new product or service or diversification are all attractive options. A nationwide survey carried out by The Wow Company (http://www.thewowcompany.com/creative-zone/benchpress/) last year revealed that the top answer, coming in at 69.5% was to get focused and proactively sell to existing customers.

Collecting the debts – Being creative beats crunching numbers any day. But it’s a challenge we all face and a task that must be completed. With the top performing creative companies boasting just 2 debtor days on average it looks like we could learn a thing or two. We’ve developed some effective tips over the years including requesting deposits, staged payments, reducing payment terms, being upfront by stating our terms in our pitch documents, retaining leverage by holding back the work until goods are received, reviewing the numbers weekly and introducing processes for faster payment. Ultimately, if you’re not comfortable with it, find someone who is!

Reduced number of client projects – There’s a number of reasons why our client’s average spend may reduce - periods of time when their focus is elsewhere or particularly quiet times of the year. We combat this with our ongoing marketing strategies, planning ahead, setting ourselves stretching targets and using low-cost, high-impact techniques to pick up new clients. When there’s new stuff we need to master, we seek out the right advice from trusted advisers and we learn!

Increased competition – New creative agencies are popping up every day with fresh ideas, compelling new talent and bold new offerings to the market. The trick here is lead the imagination, maintain authenticity, focus on the customer and be a real-life individual! If our experience has taught us anything it’s that people must always be central to what you do both internally and externally. 

Final thought…

Create space – We live in an incredibly fast moving world. To maintain creativity we need to take time to step back from things, absorb and understand the world around us and continue to experience everything that life has to offer. Feeding both sides of the brain is critical to future successes and creative longevity.

Alan Oram is Director at Alive With Ideas, an Ideas Agency focused on creative internal comms.

Picture credit.