With 2013 drawing to a close, there is still much talk of slowing economies and sluggish business growth. With that in mind we look back at the year that was and share the year ahead.

ALICIA BEACHLEY
CEO
April5

As an agency with corporate clients, we have been affected in various ways by this year’s trends which have significantly changed the way that we operate and even how we approach our business and our clients.

More With Less

Pipeline – New Business

We all know that budgets are shrinking and we are being challenged by our clients to produce the same great work but with less to play with. As a result, agencies are becoming increasingly creative and we are seeing some fantastic campaigns that have been born from smaller budgets. These campaigns are targeted and clever and are achieving great results for their brands.

Things have really slowed here. Traditionally it would take three to six months to convert new business whereas we are seeing that timeframe extend to a more realistic figure of 12 to 18 months. Keeping the pipeline flowing is critical to an agency’s success, or any business for that matter. Just when you think you are about to get a business decision, it’s put on hold. With this in mind, it is integral for any business to be aware that projections can be very changeable and to not rely solely on existing forecasts.

Testing and ROI

In my work in the brand activation space, I have always advocated testing, especially when it is cost effective to do so. Particularly in the current economic climate, clients are more cautious, and as a result testing with smaller budgets is increasingly being carried out before larger rollouts take place. As well as this, clients are focusing more and more on proving ROI and are looking more closely than ever at measurement and evaluation techniques.

Less Planning

There seems to be a shift towards less planning and more ‘knee-jerk’ marketing and advertising. An increasing number of short-term tactical campaigns focusing on pricing and promotions, rather than brand are hitting the market. Forward planning and strategy is taking a back seat. Many clients are looking over their shoulders at the competition and instigating quick-response reactive campaigns.

Collaborative Working

One trend that I am embracing is the collaboration of specialist partners working as teams to bring brands to life. Clients are looking for specialists in their fields and then partnering with them to drive success. I have been part of such a team recently, working on a large multinational where my role was to manage the consumer promotional elements, as well as a smaller start-up, to develop the overall marketing strategy.

Agency Specialists

It doesn’t seem to be one size fits all anymore – it’s the best team to deliver the best outcome against objectives. Teams of specialist smaller agencies who are great at what they do versus the larger ‘we can do everything’ agencies. We are getting phone calls from clients who are saying they no longer want to work with the bigger agencies and are looking for a more personalised relationship with a smaller team.

So what does this look like for 2014? I think we are still going to see more of the same but a little more positivity and an upward trend on budgets. The government has now changed and business is settling into a stronger pattern. We have clients who are back in planning mode and February seems to be the time that everything will be kicking off for 2014.
Make sure you are planning for 2014 now and if you slow down over Christmas, take the time to update your credentials and website and other marketing materials. Time out at the end of the year is important so that you can come back refreshed and get your agency or business ready to kick-start 2014. m

Alicia Beachley is CEO of April5. She can be contacted via email – Alicia@april5.com.au.

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