In this changing world, advertising and marketing agencies face the biggest challenges up to date. Overworked creatives, lowering fees, meeting ever shrinking deadlines, managing several projects at once, pricing while being profitable, and on top of that, trying to improve their revenue.
It seems like new problems are manifesting as rapidly as the industry is evolving. And trying the same solution while expecting different results is extremely illogical. Luckily, there are excellent tools for tackling day to day issues, and even some softwares that help manage deeper industry problems. Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges faced by creative agencies, and what do you need to solve them.
Retaining Quality Talent
Do your employees constantly need to take up extra hours to finish an assigned task? Are they on the edge of burnout? Are you missing deadlines? Employee turnover is no joke, and the advertising and marketing industry has a terrible track record for retaining quality talent. The Employee Benefits News 2017’s report indicates that it costs business owners 33% of an employee’s annual salary to get a replacement.
Keeping the talent
Research by Udemy shows that almost half of the workforce suffer from burnout, and 51% of Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to quit because of bad management. Here is where a Project management solution can play an important role in your agency and permit your talent to deliver their best work.
It is very important for managers to actually see the amount of tasks assigned to each team member. One of the most important aspects of a Project manager’s job is task allocation, and for them to be informed decision makers, they need to see each collaborator’s and co-workers’ available time in a clear and simple way. This can be done by Gantt Chart features, presenting the information in a simple and visual format. But it’s possible to take a further step in the right direccion
Being able to see assigned tasks may be nice, but actual knowledge of how many hours any collaborator has is a game changer. Softwares with effective time tracking, done in real time, are a lifesaver for this issue. They allow for effective task assignment and deadline setting, without being time-consuming.
Imagine a typical creative, with a workday of 8 hours. A project manager, without time tracking and visualization of assigned tasks, could ask them to complete a task for tomorrow. But the task, without their knowledge, supasses the talent work capacity for the day. Thus, opening 2 possible conclusions, the talent has to work extra hours, or the task is not finished on time.
With time tracking, Project Managers can correctly assign work, improve the workflow, and distribute tasks with the certainty that they are doable. Taking care of their team, their business needs, and their project delivery date.
Correct deadline estimation is a complex thing to manage. Many agencies are unable to meet due dates, turning in deliverables out of time. This reflects poorly on clients and brands, and may cost your agency important business down the line. Any enterprise, and specially small businesses, needs to have a strong credibility, and breaking promises is awful for the agency’s image.
Poorly timed projects can lead to ruining your credibility, or to asking your team to work overtime. None of those options has a happy ending for the agency. Where can you begin to overcome this challenge?
Accurate project estimation
We need to break down the project process and isolate the important variables. Data is the engine of the new industry, and internal information can be even more valuable than knowing the next trends in the market.
A new generation of softwares count with time tracking and task time estimation features, like we mentioned before. But top of the line solutions also incorporate AI and machine learning. Let’s focus on how this can help streamline your operation.
While your talent is working, their software counts their labor and creates a historic time -per-task registry. This is the key point of this type of solution. While adding new information to the database, the matrix on which the AI feeds can grow. With more information, estimations are increasingly more accurate.
A smart solution can suggest how long a project will take. Therefore allowing the project manager to plan accordingly while taking care of their team, and for the agency to invoice accurately.
Task estimation is a building block for every project the agency makes. Before you know it, you will be able to determine how long each type of offered service requires for completion, and how much time each project will take before it even breaks ground.
New Business Generation
Professional business services can’t grow on ideas alone. Agencies need new clients, and keeping returning customers happy. The common challenge is differentiating your agency from it’s peers. This is an issue for big holding companies, independent groups, small operations, and even for niche markets. There’s always room for a bit of healthy competition. So, why would new clients choose you?
The advertising and marketing industry is famed for its convoluted and complex workflow. But let’s make no mistake, creativity and good ideas can co-exist with operational clarity and order, growing even stronger in the face of an organized environment. Ideas are wonderful, but if the client never gets to see them due to incompetence? They don’t matter.
Overcoming this hurdle is not that hard. All you need is to incorporate new technology, like a Project Management software that can support every step of the operation. Key features like task management, centralized communication, templates, reporting, time tracking, to mention a few, can go a long way into streamlining the workflow of the agency. Processes can be organized, improved, and changed, but only once you can see where the cracks in the system are.
With operational excellence, you can guarantee that your potential customers will get the quality deliverables and deadline meeting they deserve.
Know how to budget
It is incredibly hard to know the real monetary value of creative work. When creation and problem solving are the main areas of work, it can be almost impossible to trace the cost of each worked hour. This can lead predominantly service-based businesses to undercharge their customers, and to mismanage budgets.
Almost impossible being the key word
Budgeting a project involves: knowing the cost of each hour of work and the resources needed. For a correctly done budget you need to be able to estimate how long each part of the project will take, for on time delivery. Like we discussed before, time tracking and task length estimation are vital for this endeavour. Knowing the metrics for each project can help you budget accordingly. Thus setting the correct fee for each type of service offered.
Many customers demand reformulation of an already finished project. This means that any extra work is not included into the original fee. Reworks are a wrench in your agency’s optimization and moreover, they take time away from new projects that will actually produce money. How can you overcome this major challenge for the industry?
Traceability is the way for better fees, and easier negotiations. When you can access the data of each project, you can share the information on how many hours it took, how many resources were used, as a new discussion point. An organised registry allows agencies to show how many resources a rework could involve, and renegotiate the fee.
Traceability is a simple and clear solution for reworking issues, and it can improve the cash flow and overall profit margins.
Business intelligence requires business information. It is impossible for anyone to implement smart decision-making when they lack data. Having a complete and holistic view of your whole operation is invaluable for the optimization of your agency.
How can you be on top of your operation? Technology, and AI driven report making. Imagine you could check the historic registry for a single client, or for each team member, with only a click. No need for sharing data across platforms, any type of reading you want, at the tip of your finger.
This is extremely helpful when taking stock and evaluation changes across the agency. For example, you could check the profitability of each service offered, and analyze whether certain types should not be done anymore. You can check creative’s performance, and train them in the areas they underperform, helping them and helping the team as a whole.
It sounds a bit daunting, but total transparency will help the bond with the talent, making them understand the decisions made. And it can even help with customer relationships.
As we mentioned previously, clear communication and transparency are vital in strengthening customer relationships. This can be hard for businesses that still use manual or dated ways of organizing their information.
Automation can be a simple solution for this challenge. Clients value and feel comfortable when an agency can show them in a simple and straightforward manner the processes involved in their project. Showing customers the resources involved in the work done for them can be an ally when discussing fees. Some solutions allow for outside parties to gain guest access into the platform itself.
Agencies often work in the shadows, maybe sharing their successful campaigns on social media. With clients having no idea the amount of work that goes behind each deliverable. Including them in the project lifecycle can be beneficial for both parties. Customers can understand what goes into their invoice, and agencies can show their progress without having to depend on deliverables or reports.
Transparency can go as far as lowering reworks and turning a client-agency relationship into a bond that benefits everyone involved.
Lastly, we need to talk about the challenge of profitability. We will take into account everything that was discussed, and focus it into getting better margins.
Budgeting and cost information are invaluable, yes. But being able to check upon this information as a project is developing, and not only when it ends, can be a game changer for your agency. Profitability is the key for solving every challenge mentioned before.
Real time reporting can help you increase fees, change directions mid-project while respecting the budget, and construct better and long lasting bonds with clients. Nothing would be possible if there wasn’t a time tracking feature and AI based automation. While each part is important, a good software connects its benefits and features to achieve an all-in-one solution.
At COR we encourage you to investigate and look for the platform that satisfies your operation’s needs. Our software is dedicated to professional service businesses, and specially designed to help improve and streamline processes and data gathering. We invite you to take a chance and see if our all-in-one solution is a good fit for your agency.