Businesses across the UK and around the world are experiencing the impact of the economic downturn and the first 5 months of the year have, to put it bluntly, been a slog!

Both the UK and US face uncertain weeks and months ahead due to elections, wider worldwide conflicts continue to dominate outcomes, especially in eCommerce due to shipping routes and supply.

However, business continues! So, let’s talk about the day-to-day obstacles we face and share some tips for riding out the challenges, because from what we are reading the forecast for the future is bright (ish).

Day to Day Business Challenges

Common factors that affect our day to day are:

  • Budgets and limited resources
  • Client losses
  • Talent acquisition
  • Work-life balance and company culture
  • AI Good vs Evil?
  • Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Budgets and Limited Resources

Whatever business you are in and whether you are working in an agency or an in-house team you will know that a big bang is expected from a small buck right now. Resources for marketing, brand awareness, talent acquisition and living are all limited.

Client acquisitions are difficult, and competition is fierce! Making a win is crucial.  

You know what though? If budgets and resources are limited for you and your clients, they are limited for your competition and the clients you want to win! You are not alone in the downturn. We know that is not a tip, but it helps to recognise that what you are achieving on a tight budget is still making an impact and that impact is relative. Where growth is crucial, in a tough economic environment even small wins and profits are worth counting.

Don’t Panic Awards, which recognise outstanding work across a plethora of disciplines, all ask the important question ‘What was your budget?’ Why? Because our independent expert judges recognise that what you achieve with a budget is as important as the outcome itself.

Client Losses

With clients looking for that big bang on a limited budget, there are bound to be disappointments when it comes to outcomes and sadly disappointment means clients will shop around for their next partnership and agency. It is a fact of agency life!

If you can hand on heart, say, you did the very best you could with the resources then, as the infamous break-up quote goes, “It’s not you” it is their expectation!

Establishing relationships and open and honest communication is the way to build a relationship that overcomes the highs and lows and flourishes with longevity!

Continuing the needless route of love and relationships, if you love someone let them go, it might be they come back to you in the long term, especially given what we noted earlier… everyone is on a limited budget right now.

Talent Acquisition

Finding the right talent for your business is not a new challenge. The digital industry has reported that talent acquisition has been problematic for several years.

When your checklist for talent includes fills a skills gap, aligns with company values and affordability; and theirs includes: opportunity for growth, commensurate wages and work life balance, there are a lot of considerations to juggle, heightened when budgets are limited.

Is talent sharing an option, when you know an individual has what you need, but they work for another agency? If it is good enough for the Football leagues where ‘on loan’ is part of the journey to becoming top class, surely it can be adopted more readily in business, especially in a world with honour and NDAs.

Or more practically is a collaboration between agencies with differing talents to deliver outcomes the answer. Alliances with your competition is an option for delivering projects, campaigns and results. Alliances are an opportunity to skill share and learn from one another a win/win whilst you negotiate through the difficult economic climate and perhaps a whole new way of approaching projects?

At Don’t Panic we believe part of the beauty of our Awards events are the opportunity to connect with like-minded companies and individuals and share best practise, whoever is setting the benchmark.

Image shows the challenge of working together.

Work-Life Balance and Company Culture

Is work-life balance more important than salary? A Reuters study in January 2024 revealed workers prioritise work-life balance over pay when considering their next role and that future prospects, training and company culture played an important part in their decision-making.

In a study by Hays, employees shared their belief that work life balance is not just about hours and flexible working but also about supporting employees to develop and progress at a pace appropriate for the individual.

Company and workplace culture is making the difference when it comes to attracting the right talent and the right personal fit. Finding the right person who demonstrates the skills and experience you are looking for, but who are also a good cultural fit is not easy. When the job market is tight the interview process is as much for the candidate’s benefit as yours.

Communicating your company culture, and not just saying but proving it is vital. Social media channels are a great way to show the personality of your business and team, and you can be sure that candidates will be looking before they even apply. Culture isn’t only about office socials and the fun stuff, it is also about the policies you have to support and develop your staff, how you approach your social responsibility and what your diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives represent.

Investment in culture, including small personal touches can make a huge difference to your teams. Show you care, reward effectively and most importantly listen and be flexible.

AI Good vs Evil

AI has been around for a long time but over the past 18 months it has hit the headlines and there has been an explosion in interest which has seen a shift in the adoption of tools and technologies, but it still remains a challenge.

Sadly, for agencies, AI has now given clients the belief that they can go it alone and do work themselves without understanding the limitations and pitfalls.

Having AI as part of your pitch including details of how you use it successfully and why it isn’t as easy as it seems, is a must. If clients want high rankings on Google or other search engines making sure AI content doesn’t fall into the traps and cracks is complicated and we guarantee attempting it with no experience will end in ultimate failure and no bang for their buck!

Content, which has seen most of the press coverage, is just one aspect of the AI experience however we believe this is where clients and businesses think they can save money. You are working with AI every day so be sure to share your knowledge and experience around AI as many clients won’t be aware of all the technologies available to improve customer journeys and engagement. Expertise is where agencies can step in to make the difference. What to a client seems like a cost-saving opportunity, could simply be an unnecessary expense in the long term.

Did you spot the AI error in the header image? We bet your clients won’t!

Social Responsibility and Sustainability

What we notice more and more currently, is clients are increasingly concerned with relationships where businesses align from a social responsibility and sustainability values point of view.

Following the Paris Agreement, many companies are now setting net zero baseline figures and putting together plans to meet the 2050 targets.

More and more businesses are signing up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals pledge and gaining Bcorp certification to show their commitment and take accountability for sustainability actions.

Having green and environmental credentials is increasingly attractive for business relationships including those with clients and employees, especially when accountable to one another, and Scope 3 becomes crucial for effective carbon footprint management.

Even though we all know that social responsibility and sustainability is a challenge that does not come easy and costs impact profitability, we need to be committed and passionate as 2050 will soon be upon us, and we do owe respect to the planet and the next generation.

Overcome Challenges by Investing in Award Entry

When budgets are tight, entering Awards will often take a backburner when it comes to spending, however, Award recognition can ease the pain regarding all the above day-to-day challenges that businesses currently face.

You are much less likely to lose clients if you work with them in becoming Award-winning. Collaborating on an award entry is exciting as well as an opportunity to reflect on the work you have done. Your belief in your project will shine through and that will be infectious.

Regarding talent acquisition, agencies that make a shortlist, or indeed win awards are attractive propositions for job hunters with a pick of opportunities.

Our Company Culture Awards are a celebration of work-life balance, health and wellbeing initiatives, and ESG commitments, winning one or more of these precious awards demonstrates to clients and talent your personality and ethos and can be the perfect way to showcase what your business stands for and who your people are.

As for AI, Don’t Panic, our newest Award, The UK AI Awards will be launching in November. It will be your opportunity to show how you are mastering AI tools and technologies to analyse behaviours, drive customer experience, create acquisition strategies and create content that remains engaging and original. Keep an eye out on our channels for updates on the awards.

For all our Awards visit the Don’t Panic Awards page or contact our incredible Account Executives who will guide you to the most fitting awards for your business.

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