How clients benefit

Clients gain control over the costs of creative services, understand competitor behaviour for more effective marketing, improve the productivity of their creatives and align stakeholder expectations with available resources.

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Cost analysis – understanding pricing for creative services

What we do

It is likely that more errors are made in the procurement of creative services than in almost any other area. The ‘creative’ element is what makes it so difficult to quantify the value of each item.

Whilst there will always be ingredients of a creative campaign that are difficult to pin down, the vast majority of commissions can be broken down into the constituent parts and costed. This is a great help to anyone managing a busy creative department.

At Town & Town we undertake the task of breaking apart each item in the marketing mix and pricing each component, creating a rate card or ‘menu’ for the majority of marketing items. Armed with this information, the marketing executive gains a high degree of control over the budget.

Here’s a situation you may find familiar…

In-house Creative Director, Paul, was being challenged by the head of IT on a hefty bill from their agency, who had charged around three times as much as for an almost identical job for Finance just a few weeks previously. Questions were being asked. The agency had responded with a long email, strenuously defending their charges, but as far as Paul was concerned, it still looked like a clear case of opportunistic pricing.

Finding a solution

He was less than keen to forward their email to the IT Director. Now was high time, he thought, to get a better handle on external creative costs to avoid nasty surprises down the line. So he commissioned a report which carefully analysed all the ingredients that went into producing a piece of marketing material, and from estimates called in from a number of suppliers, a matrix of charges from the cheapest to the most expensive was produced.

Resulting benefits

Armed with this new information, Paul arranged a meeting with all the department heads, including IT, to present the findings. Now they were all in a position to take advantage of the keenest prices for the more straightforward jobs, spending more where appropriate on more complex projects, but all within a clearly defined pricing structure. No more nasty surprises in Paul’s inbox from now on.

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Marketing intelligence – gaining an overview of competitor marketing behaviour

What we do

It is well known that, when marketing a service or product, the environment within which all messages are delivered is a key component of success. Perhaps what is less often recognised is that a competitor’s creative output, and the methods by which they deliver their message, can also influence the effectiveness of your own communication. For example, in a competitive market where there might be four or five major players, there is probably only room for one to gain attention by adopting an unconventional ‘ambush’ approach.

Whilst any marketing director worth his salt is likely to have a very good idea of what their competitors are up to on a campaign by campaign, product by product basis, very few have the time or resources to take a holistic look at how competitors are behaving across the wide range of communication channels that now exist.
At Town & Town, we not only gather this information into a manageable format, but present it in a succinct and relevant way to highlight different approaches among major competitors.

Here’s a situation you may find familiar…

Daniel sat in his office looking through the creative work that had been produced in the last couple of years. It was sleek, it was confident, and it embodied the firm’s core values of sound wealth management and the preservation of wealth for the next generation. Daniel felt confident that he knew his target audience – someone distinguished, sober – just like his father. But something his CEO had said earlier in the day about the activities of their main competitor was bothering him. Were they gaining the advantage?

Finding a solution

The only way to find out for sure was to commission a report on their marketing activity, and it proved to be full of surprises. They had been attacking more sectors of the market than Daniel realised, and whilst their marketing spend in Europe had declined slightly, this was more than offset by the huge increase in their Far East spend. And the biggest surprise of all was that they had been targeting a much younger sector that Daniel had always thought fell outside their own wealth criteria. Time for some new thinking.

Resulting benefits

Armed with an insider’s view of the competition, Daniel was well-placed to brief the agency on a new approach to their marketing activity, and in no time at all they were seeing the benefit of moving into previously uncharted territory, with big boosts to both morale and the bottom line.

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Productivity benchmarking – improving the productivity of creative services

What we do

How does an organisation know whether its people employed in creative positions have too much or not enough to do when it is so difficult to measure? Most managers would struggle to answer this question.

Measuring the productivity of employees involved in creative functions within an organisation is notoriously difficult, but it is an area that should be addressed by those serious about overall performance. It is also something welcomed by the creatives themselves. Expectation of performance in other areas is standard practice, and there is little difficulty in setting benchmarks.

At Town & Town we aim to quantify each piece of work undertaken by a creative employee in terms of cost and return for the organisation, measuring the results against agreed norms. This information allows us to test the effectiveness of the resource and make comparisons with competitors if that is what is required.

Here’s a situation you may find familiar…

Sian was concerned. She had been asked to come up with some kind of productivity measure for the new bonus scheme, but surely that was impossible. Creative ideas don’t turn up on cue – they can take a while to evolve. In any case, she was far too busy trying to get through her workload to devote time to the problem.

Finding a solution

Sian felt that she was just too busy and too close to the detail, so she called in outside help. It didn’t take long before patterns of work and practice emerged, and ten basic types of task were identified. With the information to hand, it wasn’t difficult to allocate time and material costs, and Sian began to see how she could measure the productivity of her team.

Resulting benefits

With the tasks the department was asked to undertake more clearly defined, it was easy for Sian to draw up realistic criteria for productivity. This gave her team an unexpected boost in morale, and they were able to come up with ideas to improve productivity themselves, especially as they could now see a clear path to achieving their bonus targets. A ‘win win’ situation.

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Stakeholder engagement – assessing the differing demands on creative services and the available resources

What we do

The majority of departments within an organisation respond positively when their performance is evaluated. Even when performance is below par, solutions can be found to improve things that involve a logical and methodical approach.

The exception is creative services – an area where everyone feels qualified to comment, yet they find it difficult to articulate or pinpoint specifics for improvement.
At Town & Town we find that the perception of creative services’ function is often misaligned with its capabilities. Knowing clearly what is expected of the creative services team by its stakeholders and understanding the team’s potential is an important first step towards building a team to meet those expectations.

Here’s a situation you may find familiar…

James found the weekly managers’ meeting difficult as usual. There was no shortage of useful advice about his department – creative services. His people were either too busy, not busy enough, produced too many or too few ideas, rehashed the same old stuff, or produced solutions that were too original for the business. And whilst James took it all in his stride, his staff were more sensitive to criticism when they heard it first hand.

Finding a solution

James persuaded his boss to bring in an external specialist to find out exactly what each department thought of creative services, and what level of service they expected from them. The same questionnaire was used for other departments that provided similar services in the organisation. To James’s surprise, the findings showed that people had far more respect for creative services than he had anticipated; it seemed to be much more a question of poor perception and attitude.

Resulting benefits

Buoyed up by the encouraging findings, the creative team quickly gained in confidence and started to promote themselves internally, making regular contributions to the company blog and launching a micro site to display their work. As a happier, better respected department, James and his team were able to make a more positive contribution to the organisation and meet all stakeholder demands.

 

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