A roundup of industry expertise, exclusive resources, business support and tools for your design business.
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Over-service has become an all too familiar term across the design sector, where more work rarely coincides with an increase in revenue. In a service based industry it’s easy to go over and above on those key strategic accounts that drive revenue and worry about the wash up later… why not make a New Year’s resolution to take back control of your real-time outputs to negate these issues?
The ability to identify which accounts the metaphorical kitchen sink is being thrown at in real time and acting on it quickly, should be a vision for every agency in 2018. On the other end of the spectrum those accounts that need a little TLC should also be flagged before it’s too late.
Knowledge to help you run your business efficiently requires real time information on how each job is tracking against the client estimate, real time information about resource requirements and whether jobs can be juggled to avoid additional freelance costs, real time retainer utilisation data, clear information on which jobs are in scope and which are not, real time information on which of your staff are performing and which are not, which accounts contribute and which don’t.
In our experience, agencies tend to see greater transparency of their business after big process reviews. These improvements, such as a systems upgrade, generally take time and effort to decide on but once implemented can save significant margin.
Leading agency, JKR Global’s account service staff used a myriad of complex Excel templates to prepare estimates before entering summarised data into their existing system, because it was easier. This led to a number of common problems:
Since the roll out of Pegasus at JKR Global, their FD Mike Khan has remarked at the range of agency process improvement the system has driven, leading to an increase in recoverability across many of the key metrics the DBA Annual Survey Report provides insight into, such as recovery rates of staff utilisation, rate card recovery and overhead management.
How many of the common problems detailed above do you encounter within your own business? If they seem all too familiar, then it’s time to take control. With another year over and a new one about to begin, be sure not to repeat the same mistakes of 2017 – instead empower your agency by gaining access to your data. With the right system in place let’s make the headache of using Excel and multiple other tools to prepare estimates, create revenue forecasts, allocate resources etc. a thing of the past. Once you’ve done this, your 2019 mantra will be ‘Profit is the power to do what you want’.
At Pegasus making agencies more profitable is in our DNA. We have vast experience of running agencies and know how to implement a system to improve the visibility of all elements of your business. We start by conducting a process review and audit of your existing system and then demonstrate how we can configure Pegasus to meet your requirements and make you more efficient and profitable.
Pegasus provides a specialised marketing services software solution focused on exceeding our clients’ expectations, developing the system with our user base and building long term relationships through innovation and exceptional client support. Our clients include all major international groups, plus a growing number in the UK with notable agencies such as JKR and Droga5 amongst them. Supporting over 130 clients with 6,000+ staff globally in London, New York, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan. We are a private staff-owned company with over 30 years focused solely on the advertising and communications industry. All directors are previously agency FDs, all client service and product delivery staff have worked in agencies in senior financial roles. Our in-depth understanding of agencies’ processes is our strength!
Find out more: www.pegasussystems.com
Asking clients the right questions is an important tool for business improvement – ‘How can we do better next time?’ ‘If you could give us one piece of advice what would it be?’ ‘If you could choose one area of your business that you’d like us to know more about, what would it be?’ – And never take ‘You came a close second’ at face value.
Jonathan Kirk, Up to the Light
Take time to be aware of yourself and the needs and feelings of your staff, your clients, yourself! Be aware when you’re tempted to respond to situations with your reactive mind and don’t let your ego take-over. Notice when your mind creates a scenario that may not be reality!
Gary Baxter, Lightbox Consulting
Commit to doing something every day, however small, to deliver on your new business and marketing plan. Polish up your LinkedIn profile, update your CRM, ask for a testimonial, research a business you’d like to work for, arrange a coffee with an ex-client, delegate a case study write up, or ask someone to help fix that thing on your website. Happy Christmas!
Lucy Mann, Gunpowder Consulting
Whilst many of us bemoan Brexit it has led to opportunities. The weaker pound means our creative work is up to 20% cheaper outside the UK than it was pre-Brexit (depending on the country you are selling in). We have a strong reputation in many markets for our creativity so take advantage.
Adrian Day, Adrian Day Advisers
I keep seeing the same core values churned out time and again which are more marketing speak than values – ambitious, creative, passionate, loyal etc. I would urge founders to dig deeper for their true values or beliefs. Try this one in 2018: “Be impeccable with your word”. This means speaking with integrity, saying only what you mean, not gossiping, being positive and not speaking ill of others.
True values are promoted only by the founder living them, rather than putting them in a slide presentation.
Ian Cochrane, Tice Group
I don’t mean half-nelsons, assumptive closes, or any of that double glazing salesman stuff. I mean work hard at selling: identifying real problems, and defining real, unique solutions. People buy people, but there are lots of great people in our industry. Clients won’t buy what they don’t need. On that note, it’s pretty cold outside. Can I interest you in some double-glazing?
Jeremy Davies, Little Train BD
Commit to not getting carried away when a new client wishes to commission work, but rather consider carefully the terms of the contract upon which the studio is to be engaged. When a prospective client waves a nice bit of work in front of a studio subject to their terms of purchase, then good business sense often goes out the window. Always stand back and check the terms that are being offered or better still ask your solicitor to look at them!
Darrell Stuart-Smith, Humphries Kirk LLP
The “Now” is about improving business as usual by a deeper understanding of what clients need, what you do best, where you add most value and where you have the greatest right to win. The “Next” being a deliberate and parallel programme of ‘self-disruption’ – your Project You – to pioneer your future business-as-unusual business model, brand proposition, culture, services, methodologies and those ‘winning arguments’ that will transform and grow your business for the future.
Ralph Ardill, Ralph Ardill Ltd
Invest in training your staff in those soft skills that so often get overlooked. Knowing how to sell creative in the right way, to speak with greater presence and gravitas and to demonstrate genuine passion and authenticity can make all the difference to winning more business. In addition, agencies that ensure adequate investment in training and development are far more attractive to investors.
Surely that’s a commercial point worth serious consideration?
Catherine Allison, Master the Art
Agree to do your best at everything that you do. This is a clear signal that you want to succeed and as long as you have given it your all you won’t go too far wrong.
Rod Petrie, Coach
With GDPR coming into effect on 25 May 2018, content is now more important than ever in business development. To encourage new business prospects from not opting out from any communications from you, content has to be highly targeted and relevant to their job titles, remit, brands, companies as well as their issues/challenges. Highly relevant and targeted content also further positions you as a leading authority on the subject.
Andre Young, Angsana
New Year is a time to think, plan and dream about the year ahead – don’t set yourself up for failure by starting with a short-term target that can all too easily be lost in the ether of the back-to-work fug.
Think longer term – Write yourself a list of 5 things that you want to achieve in 2018, and set a calendar reminder for each quarter so you can see progress.
Jeremy Paterson, IF Media Consultancy
When there are pressures in an agency to perform, especially for new business, or when growing / nurturing an existing client, it is easy to sideline face-to-face contact and to rely on email and calls.
Take the time to meet with clients and prospects, you will get far more in return. There is no substitute for dedicated, regular contact in the form of meetings or workshops or events where you are in a room together.
Natasha Ellard-Shoefield, The Hand
Now then, let’s see what you’ve prepared for your business going into the year ahead. Vision? Tick. Finances sorted? Check. Marketing strategy and plan? Yup. Client relationships programme? Done. Team recruitment and motivation? Certainly. Active development of your core offer: design thinking, creativity and delivery? Um… well, maybe not that one so much. Make 2018 the year you remember why you went into design in the first place.
Shan Preddy, PREDDY&CO
If you have a particular business challenge or are looking to move your agency to the next level, we’ll work closely with you to connect you to an expert, whatever the issue. We’ve identified expert consultants with sustained and relevant experience in supporting the design industry, so you can rest assured that we can introduce you to the right one to meet your needs.
Clear out the old and make room for the new with Leo Cosendai’s much-loved New Year’s Day Gong Bath! Tired from 2017? Or from New Year’s eve?! Then take a Gong Bath for an evening of calming relaxation and rejuvenation. Allow the powerful sound frequencies and energies produced by the gong to remove the stresses of 2017 from the cells of your body and create balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, the right and left hemispheres of the brain as well as in the meridians and chakras. The gong will produce a blissful state of meditation so you can unwind, restore your body and mind and step into 2018 grounded and centred, with energy and intention.
For a thoroughly Christmassy day, start by satisfying your spendings account at the Christmas markets at LASSCO, Bermondsey; the warehouse space features a late-night market during the Christmas season. You can browse through a medley of vintage bric-a-brac and one-off pieces to find something truly unique for your special someone. Even better, you can browse with cocktail in hand, from LASSCO Bar and Dining, the seasonally influenced small plate restaurant.
Follow on with a showing of “A Christmas Carol” with an immersive twist; there will be the usual sing-a-longs and audience participation, but also impromptu guitar renditions, eccentric and surprising moments of improv and parlour games, not to mention a sumptuous Christmas feast.
Take your Christmas celebrations back in time, 150 years to be precise, with a Victorian Christmas at York Castle Museum. The Castle and its cobbles will be decked out in traditional Christmas decor and feature gingerbread making activities and the Castle’s own Ebenezer Scrooge who will help visitors discover the true meaning of Christmas.
For a winter extravaganza south of the River Thames, Winterville in Clapham Common has something for every festive elf. Think ice rink, roller disco, mini golf, fairground, backyard cinema, market and even a spiegeltent with special Christmas show as well as the usual rotation of cabaret shows and brass band performances. Winterville is your one-stop-shop for all things Christmas with a touch of frost, in London.
Keeping south, why not stroll down to the local Christmas market at Pop Brixton? Supporting local traders, the market features artisanal one-off products all in the surrounds of shipping containers stacked one on top of the other to make the unique indoor/outdoor space that is Pop Brixton.
Short of a present for a cook? Get them this great new cook book from Aaron Bertelsen who manages Great Dixter’s vegetable garden. I’ve been cooking my way through it much to the delight of my friends and family.
Second gift idea is an edible Christmas wreath and if you’re too late to order then make your own.
And while you’re on the Rocket Garden site, why not take out a veggie patch subscription that delivers exactly what you want three times a year with all the instruction you could need; gardening for the non-gardener and you get to eat it all. Go on, rip out one of your flower beds for this, it’s much more fun.
The Welsh capital turns it on for Christmas. There are plenty of covered ‘arcades’, so you can shop whether rain, hail, snow or shine. There are also lots of Christmas market huts all over the city centre, for a more traditional Christmas market feel.
This Christmas, Rogue Village has partnered with The Biscuit Factory, SugarDaddy’s Bakery and set designers, Pyrus Botanicals to create an indoor winter woodland inspired cinema in the heart of Edinburgh. Taking the outdoors indoors and screening a smorgasbord of Christmas classics from family favourites through to pure nostalgia, all in a magical winter setting, with seasonal inspired festive cocktails.
The importance of sustainability is growing in all markets. The focus is clearly on finding sustainable solutions and materials that enhance natural capital and promote the circular economy. In practice that means optimizing usage of natural resources, safeguarding product recyclability and eliminating waste.
Ecodesign should be the start point for all product development, and concepts such as Label Life can offer a holistic understanding of the life cycle of labels in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, water consumption and waste. This enables you, the designer, to really understand the life cycle impacts of different label products, and provides credible information about the environmental performance of labels.
When it comes to paper labels, the basic minimum should be choosing papers that are certified as coming from sustainably managed forests. You need to know the origin of the wood and FSC and PEFC are two forest certification standards that verify responsible paper sourcing.
The next step to consider would be to select paper products that can demonstrate a net positive environmental impact. UPM Raflatac’s new FOREST POSITIVE concept does just that and can credibly demonstrate that its RAFNXT+ labels are carbon positive, positive for nature, resource optimized and 100% FSC or PEFC certified. In fact the new labels are up to 20% more carbon positive than standard labels. Your kids would be proud knowing that you are buying raw materials that actually help mitigate climate change and promote wildlife habitat.
When it comes to filmic labels, there are multiple routes one can take to reduce environmental impact. Using radical innovation, filmic labels can be developed that are thinner and lighter, recyclable, biobased and even biodegradeable or compostable. All of these address growing public concern about the use of plastic in packaging and plastic pollution, which programmes like David Attenborough’s Blue Planet are increasingly drawing greater attention to.
Biobased films are also coming into focus. We have recently worked with MUS Verpakkingen to test a biobased PE film solution for can labeling. RafBio PE is a sustainable alternative to standard PE film and is made from sugarcane ethanol containing more than 80% renewable plant-based raw material. This film material reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions and is recyclable within the same recycling streams as fossil-based PE.
Another example is the shrink sleeve films found on many beverages. These are one of the fastest growing label segments, growing at 5.5% CAGR. Global brand owners are actively seeking ways to increase the recyclability of shrink sleeved PET containers to reduce their environmental footprint. Did you know that RafShrink PO labels provided average detection rates of 92% versus 40% for PETG sleeve labels in NIR (near infra-red) sorting equipment, significantly improving PET packaging recyclability rates.
And to close the loop, we must consider the fact that labels come on backing liner, which ends up as waste. Our RafCycle® waste management concept is a good example of making the circular economy a reality – a recycling solution that gives label waste a new life in paper, biocomposites or as energy for heating.
There are many more possibilities for improving the sustainability of labels on packaging and it’s important to remember that the labels you choose as the designer, really do matter. Make sustainability your purpose for 2018 and let’s label a smarter future.