Is It Time To Tool Up?

Posted by Ashley Miller on December 15, 2015

Is it time to Tool Up?

There is a scene in American crime thriller TV series, The Wire, where one character tells another that if he doesn’t like it he needs to ‘tool up’. No doubt this brings to mind guns, knives and a whole lot of violence which I think we can all agree has nothing to do with the creative industry. However, the concept of ‘tooling up’ can be taken from the underbelly of crime and reshaped to provide us with a long-term strategy for growth. Tooling up therefore becomes a premise for agencies saying – am I prepared, am I ready, am I equipped for the job at hand? 

According to the recent Kingston Smith report on the financial performance of marketing services companies in 2015 there has been some strong progression with the majority of sectors experiencing year-on-year growth. Unsurprisingly digital experienced the highest gross income growth at 11 percent, closely followed by media buying, public relations and design sitting between 7 – 11 percent. Moving on to profit margins and all sectors reported positive figures for the year, albeit at varying levels. Some sectors saw their margins fall when compared with figures from last year though – none more so than media buying which fell to 12.8 percent from 15.9 percent. As a result, the report noted that “for the first time in 25 years, media buying could be overtaken as the most profitable of the marketing services disciplines by PR, which is now less than 0.5 percent behind”.

From this we can take that agencies within the creative space have been working hard to rebuild following the crash in 2008. But how can agencies build on this momentum and continue to grow – what are the next steps?

This is where the concept of tooling up comes in. In order to take the next step in the growth cycle, agencies need to prepare and ready themselves. However, there are a number of hurdles standing in the way, including but certainly not limited to, the blurring of boundaries between sectors, the talent shortage and even the high prices in the property market putting strain on revenue growth. The last thing these agencies need on top of this are internal challenges associated with technology and process.

Therefore, in order to tackle and in some cases, remove completely, these internal challenges, agencies need to ensure they have the right tools for the job. If all you’re hearing are phrases such as ‘disparate systems’, ‘data duplication’, ‘time consuming’ and ‘manual and laborious’ then rather than reaching for a knife or gun, choose a different kind of weapon – technology.

A prime example of this is an agency management system. A software solution like this changes those negative phrases into phrases like ‘instant access’, ‘transparency’, ‘real-time’ and ‘happy clients’. Not only will agencies be able to proactively manage client relationships, and track opportunities and relationships, but from a day-to-day perspective an agency management system provides granular insight into resources and capacity, work in progress, budgets and time recorded.

Investing in the right tools for your tool kit ultimately means that your agency is better supported from the outset. The momentum gained from the creative industry rebuilding itself should be harnessed and further built upon, and technology is in a prime position to support this growth. The pen may be both mightier than the sword as well as a traditional tool of the trade, but agencies who tool up with technology will be better placed to conquer the industry.