Covid-19 has changed everything. Has it really? No, says Joe.

The future landscape of the UK economy is still shrouded in the fog of uncertainty. That might sound a bit dramatic but in reality, it means that any sort of future planning is as predictable as the UK weather. It will remain a highly competitive world for the foreseeable future and those left in the game will either be punch drunk or the fittest they've ever been. So, what should we be thinking, doing and actually planning for?

Employees will and should demand more.

We need to think about how we work together. Individuals may be looking at serious changes to what they demand of employers. This may include better working practices, shunning the 9 to 5 existence (did it ever exist?) and demanding better empathy from their bosses over issues around wellbeing and purpose. In my view, the very concept of employer and employee with an industry populated with knowledge workers is possibly in question.

Review how you work and why you work like that.

If you've been working from home, it's an opportunity to see if changes forced upon us could actually be sustainable and provide a better balance between work and home life. Starting a discussion with your team may be a useful first step in delivering better and more fruitful working practices.

What will clients want from agencies?

I asked a few and - unsurprisingly - they still want the moon on a stick: low price and high value all delivered yesterday. We all know they'll spend six months planning then surprise us with six days to deliver whatever it is. C'est la vie. The reality is that clients, like the rest of us, crave positive, mutually beneficial relationships. We just need to start out on the right foot or take a step back and fix anything that doesn't work. Now is a great time to do that.

Review and redefine what value you offer, what it costs and the ROI.

Build this into new client relationships from the start or take the opportunity to remind existing clients. It won't stop annoying bad practice but it will put you up front in the driving seat with the client.

What about the services we offer?

Word on the street is that many of the agencies offering low-cost digital services that come with valuable lengthy contracts have suffered as clients refuse to sign for another 12 months or are simply switching to another supplier with a lower margin. The digital service industry is becoming dangerously commoditised with little differentiation between suppliers as they rely on the big social platforms to deliver their service. It's a dangerously weak link in a company's service proposition chain if anyone can sell exactly the same thing as you when you add little value, service or differentiation.

In conclusion

Maybe a major change is what we need to get back to first principles. Clear out the old habits that have built up over the years. It' not change really, just an opportunity to do what we should always be doing. It's not always easy.

The ‘new normal' is really the old normal. Define and know your audience, be better than your competitors, collaborate and support the best people and partners, don't take anything for granted and be ready to take opportunities.

Innovation and continual improvement are the only ways to keep driving forward. So, everything has changed but nothing has changed.

Last Updated: 19/06/2020
Author: Joe Chetcuti

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