Code Worldwide

The Agency Squeeze – Why Agency CEOs are paying more attention to the IT guys

Matt McNeany

Matt McNeany

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Procurement’s interest in the costs of marketing and particularly agency costs is not new. How can it cost $230 to produce each press ad? How can you sustain $195/hour rate card? The reality is that creative agencies are rarely making massive margins, or certainly not in the long term, but procurement still want to see their 10% each year.

Combine that with the increasing level of demands on the modern agency:

  • Be experts in brand management, TV production, e-mail marketing, Rich Internet applications, data-driven consumer insight, social media etc
  • Have more skilled staff who can consult and deliver
  • Deliver more margin and growth to the holding company
  • Deal with more regulation, more competition and better educated clients

So the agency principal is faced with the dilemma of doing more with less – and it is at this point that a smart IT guy can emerge from the basement with solutions to manage the squeeze:

More efficiency

  • Use workflow tools to take the cost out of routine and commoditized processes, such as internal approvals, ad trafficking, HR management

Realize the value of knowledge and people assets.

  • Create a single searchable store of agency documents so ideas, techniques, research and presentations can be repurposed and agency staff can learn from each other
  • Create a single searchable list of the agency team’s experience to identify Subject Matter Experts quickly

Eliminate duplication

  • Store documents on-line with version control so you don’t end up with 27 out-of-sync versions of the Q2 budget reconciliation
  • Store project information on a single web page that all teams can access to prevent each department maintaining its own process

Communicate better - Internally & externally

  • Use the techniques of social media to create collaboration spaces for internal teams. Extend these spaces to clients so the whole team is working on the same version of the information at the same time.
  • Use blogging techniques for status reports. Use workflow and task management to track and accelerate project velocity. Create a single shared calendar for projects so that all can see meetings and milestones
  • Dump e-mail as your project database. Post information to your central project site and subscribe your users to it. That way, knowledge is captured, organized, searchable and re-usable

Take best practices out of the dusty ringbinder and embed them into the day-to-day life of the agency

  • Take the best practice flowchart and make it into an easy-to-use workflow: Alert stakeholders automatically to changes in project status; Request and track approvals for quality and budget control

Respond quicker and better

  • Know what’s happening in your business – and be able to move to address positive & negative trends
  • Create KPI dashboards to measure key metrics, eg profitability, utilization, project velocity, client satisfaction

There is no immediate prospect of the Agency Squeeze diminishing. A modern, competitive agency needs to be able to answer these questions when client procurement comes knocking:

  • What processes do you use to show proper stewardship of my brand and budget?
  • Are your financial and operational systems integrated?
  • Do your systems enable and empower your teams?
The question, of course, is whether you're ready for the call.