Values driven agencies set to succeed in post-Covid world In the wake of Covid-19, the shift in consumer behaviour has been dramatic. It has necessitated nothing short of an evolution in the way in which we market our clients’ products and services. Consumers are increasingly particular about where they spend their money because their individual values have become integral to their decision-making processes in a pandemic-focussed world. While the long-term impact on agency business models and strategy in a post-Covid world is still anyone’s guess, one thing is certain: if our clients are changing the way they do business, then so must we. The first step to meeting changing expectations is to look inward. Agencies are under increasing pressure to be more agile and responsive to short lead times and strategic direction changes as clients are compelled to shift according to market forces that are now well outside their traditional sphere of control. A growing bottom line requires a dual strategy: recruiting and retaining new business, and the continual adjustment and implementation of operational, cost, and staff management strategies that streamline what teams do and importantly, how they do it. Agencies not only face competition from their peers in the consulting sector but also have to contend with the tendency amongst many clients to opt for their own in-house marketing hubs in an effort to achieve the very same bottom-line results that agencies are chasing. So how do agencies reshape the way they work to contend with the competition, client expectations, changing consumer trends, and yet remain values focussed on their own terms? Each agency is different and has to choose the values that best speak to their business and client base. Functional values – growing to the bottom line Simplicity and improved team structures and processes streamlines workflow, saves time, and reduces effort. Integration between teams avoids duplication of effort for staff who traditionally would have worked in a more ‘siloed’ structure. HWB Communications has implemented this approach by restructuring the agency into four specialist teams: media relations, digital marketing, content services and; strategy. Although each practice specialises in a specific scope of work, they are dependent on one another to ensure the seamless integration of client campaigns. The result has been improved cost efficiency, better client management practices, streamlined internal processes and the delivery of quality, quantifiable results. Emotional values – nurturing talent and building a cohesive team Authenticity and integrity are action values that enable team members to find meaning in their work and creates depth for client campaigns, the end result of which is to secure the trust and loyalty of consumers. Job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment comes from specialising in a specific area of expertise that allows staff to remain engaged instead of continually switching between tasks. Structured, ongoing learning and internal mentoring is vital to encourage growth and develop a healthy culture of service excellence that has delivery as a qualitative outcome. Societal values – meeting social responsibility obligations The increased pressure that the pandemic has placed, particularly on smaller agencies, have made it hard for many to pay it forward when it comes to meeting social responsibility obligations. If CSI commitments have become difficult to meet then it is essential to plan for future projects, or reconsider a tactical change to accommodate a cause that your agency is able to support. It is important for teams to understand that although priorities might have been reorganised, the commitment to ‘paying it forward’ remains firm. As the pandemic runs its course and the world pins its hopes on a vaccine to bring it to an end, it is clear that successful agencies will be those who are able to stay in sync with their clients’ businesses as they traverse the rather rough economic terrain that still lies ahead.