During one of our brainstorming sessions we discussed the topic of clients who don't see the value of the work that is done by agencies. The debate centred for some time on whether or not clients could in fact do what we do. What was missed in the debate is what is missed in any selling situation. That is: If you cannot show the value, then the client is not going to buy it and there is no getting away from this fact. However there is much merit in debating this point.
The truth is that clients can't do what we can (sorry to burst anyone's bubble). The problem that we, as agencies around the globe, face is that clients are facing tighter budgets with higher deliverables. The expectations placed on our clients by their reporting lines, are immense.
The drive to bring down the costs, sometimes leads to decisions being made that may prove incorrect later on.
We also face the fact that today it is relatively easy to set-up a design business. All one needs, on face value anyway, is a good computer, some decent software and away you go. Creative ability falls to the computer, with prepopulated design templates being the order of the day. The number of design "businesses" has exploded over the past few years, simply as a result of this notion that anyone can be a designer. Much in the same way that digital SLR cameras have created over a billion "professional photographers" - well in their minds anyway.
Ironically, it is this belief that is beginning to cause the decline of margins and overall budgets, being allocated to the important aspect of marketing and design. The worst phenomenon though, that is a direct consequence of this belief is that the overall level of creativity is beginning to drop.
Now before I am accused of siding only with the client, taking a stab at independent designers or a bit of both, lets unpack a bit more...
Great creativity need not cost the earth (I have long held this belief), but having just one person responsible for competing all of your design is simply not a solution. Having just one person completing this vital task will lead to repetitive design that becomes bland. This in turn will lead to your brand losing its space within the consumer landscape.
We hold the position that you need several people working on a brand. This team dynamic creates a platform for "creative conflict". This is a term we use to drive ideas. We like the idea of multiple executions with different angles. This delivers better overall creativity at the end of the day. This team dynamic does have a cost though and there is no way of getting away from this.
The increase in smaller businesses has had some positive effects on overall pricing. Great design, today, is more readily available and at pricing that is far more palatable.
The slippery slope though that is fast emerging, is that this approach has led to an increasing number of businesses who are willing to risk their brand reputation in favour of cost. This is a dangerous slope to be on and one that could see the design world imitating the print world. Printing around the globe has commoditised itself to death, granted with the help of technology. Printers simply are not able to command the pricing of old and many have closed their doors.
Be wise with your advertising decision making. You don't necessarily have to spend millions to achieve great marketing and advertising results. You do however need to have a team involved in your brand to ensure that you steer clear of creative repetition.
Mike Taberner is a Partner and Director at Brandesign, a brand development company. He consults on brand development and marketing channels to be used by clients. He is responsible for the strategy as well as the media portfolios. Contact details: Twitter @MikeTaberner
100% right Mike. The business has become beholden to Procurement departments dictating how much money can be spend in a year and what the scope of work determines.
As a result, agencies can not afford any senior (read costly) talent, so they have no option but to rely on babies with no experience. And the results speak for themselves. I hear a lot of experienced marketers complaining about the poor ineffective work being produced these days.
Their eyes glaze over when I explain the situation. So how does it get solved? A better sprinkling of experience as per the UK and the US, where they have gone full circle and realise that you need experience.
Maybe the penny will drop with agencies in South Africa sooner or later. Posted on 29 Oct 2012 08:35
I fear it may be some time before the wheel does turn, but hopefully it will. My concern is that many brands are taking a pounding from a lack of creativity and diversity as a result of the cost cutting that it happening.
thanks for your comments and sentiment cheers Posted on 29 Oct 2012 12:22
Advertising schools put out another 1500 students into the design fields a year in SA. Clients have become more DIY using designers in house believing they can get their work faster, cheaper and to their own specifications. The marketing plan and brand plan has flown out the window as clients believe that they are more capapble and have more experience in their own fields. Researchh is either done in house or not at all. Margins on media have been all but eroded and mark ups on print are all but disappeared. And if a client wants ideas he has google. So you might ask where the value of an agency is.I believe and still believe that clients lack original thinking and agencies that can deliver this unnique thinking will ventually triumph.The only problem i see having worked in the US and here is that South African marketeers are sometimes scared of risk taking. Posted on 29 Oct 2012 14:32
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