Every industry is facing challenges after lockdown – and beyond. The pandemic has affected businesses dramatically and we’ve all felt the repercussions of it. But for marketing agencies and freelancers, what has this meant for them?
Many companies have cut marketing and advertising budgets, gone silent on social media, and simply stopped communicating with their clients and customers. So what exactly are the top challenges facing marketing agencies, both big, small, and freelance? Let’s shine a light on it.
Key statistics so far
According to Uplers’ digital agencies survey report, 66% of agencies have seen a 66% decrease in overall revenue, and aren’t expecting this to change, with 57% of agencies believing they’re going to continue seeing the impact of the pandemic for longer than six months. These might be worrying figures, but already some agencies (16%) are seeing or have seen an increase in revenue. Like most industries, it’s all about adjusting to the circumstances we’ve experienced during COVID-19, and for those agencies, they’re reaping the benefits; advertising where other agencies aren’t and generating leads where they can.
- Changing priorities of clients
That Facebook competition you spent six months planning? Gone. Dust. Your client is no longer interested in giving stuff away for free – especially when the prize is an all-expenses paid trip to Spain, which means the winner would probably have to quarantine anyway and might not even fancy risking their health to get there. But instead of changing tact, your client simply wants to pull the plug on all your hard work and stop marketing altogether. This is devastating, but what many agencies have seen over the past few months.
With many clients, events have had to be postponed – this might have been the lifeline of their business – and where they spend the most money with you. Agencies have had to think on their feet and find new ways for that money to be invested. Rework the idea and put the budget to good use. If a client is open to it, try something new – the best time to try is now, when there’s room to experiment.
Many agencies are pitching ideas they might have been too scared to before – simply because the risk might not have paid off. If your client can’t go to the event that they rely on, why not bring the event to them and create something virtual?
- Budget reductions
For some agencies, the response they’ve seen from clients is ‘we’re having to make our own staff redundant, so we can’t be seen outsourcing to an external agency, when we’re not paying our own employees’. It sucks, but this isn’t your fault. Whether the client has decided to take marketing in house or simply stop altogether, there’s little to no point arguing. All you can do is maintain that relationship with them and check in every so often to make sure they haven’t changed their mind.
The risk with clients pausing or stopping altogether, is that when the time comes to start advertising or marketing again, they might look elsewhere. This is where your client relationship skills need to come into play. Think about whether it would be worthwhile continuing to provide your services to that client – if they’re someone you respect and want to maintain a working relationship with, this could be worthwhile for future contracts. If they recognise the work you’re putting in now, it could pay off in the future. Think of it as a payment holiday – at least you’ll have the security of keeping that client on board after a certain period of time.
For a lot of agencies, it’s been a reduction in client fees where they’ve been hit hardest. Clients want to continue marketing, but can’t justify paying a £3,000 retainer. Make allowances and adjustments and think about where they can best spend their reduced fees. It’s been tight for many agencies, especially SMEs, but keeping that client relationship is beneficial in the long run.
Budget reductions don’t have to mean worse marketing. Look at different channels and services; is there something your client wasn’t doing before that they could be doing now, something which is cheaper and more cost effective? Without suggestions, that client could end up pulling the entire budget and not just making a reduction.
- Contract terms & conditions
Tight and rigid contracts aren’t great, even when there’s not a global pandemic happening. If your client is getting twitchy and nervous about the lack of results during this period, reinvest their budget and change the terms. Just because they signed up for a 12 month SEO contract, doesn’t mean this is what they should be limited to. Maybe they need a new approach to their social media marketing and advertising.
Many agencies are finding themselves having to be more and more flexible as time goes on – especially with the coronavirus situation. Although lockdown is over for many areas in the UK, the after effects are very real and clients are still being wary. Don’t tie them down to anything right now and simply show them the results that you can achieve. They need reassurance right now and a rigid contract won’t be very helpful.
- Consumer behaviour is changing
Agencies across the world are seeing consumer behaviour change – ignoring this can be extremely detrimental to your clients’ campaigns. More and more of us are working from home and this is something we can expect to see continue. This means more time online, switching from device to device, whether that’s laptop to phone to television (or all simultaneously). We’re spending more time on social media, looking for news, looking for updates. If this is where your client’s audience has shifted to, make sure you find out before your client does.
Streaming services, as well as gaming, has grown in usage over the lockdown period. Agencies are having to try their hand at different types of media and channels, such as TikTok and Spotify and in-app advertising. Now, more than ever before, marketing agencies need to be on it, spotting consumer behaviour changes for their clients and making those suggestions, which will drive that all important traffic.
Whether you’re a big or small agency or freelancer talk to us today about your cash-flow and how to maintain a good client database over the next six months.