Clients expect more work for less money to make up for budget cuts. Agencies are expected to do more work for free to win pitches and the pitch process is taking longer. This is having an impact on the quality of work and client servicing. More work is being produced for less budget, by a changing workforce that is less experienced in the agency's specific approach and less knowledgeable about the clients.
"I wish that the design industry would get together regarding the issue of free pitching. The amount of work that is expected is shocking. It can put small firms out of the running and out of business", explained one strategist.
A designer agency-owner added: "We are a profession and like any profession we should have a strong professional body to support the industry, lobby on behalf of the industry. The design agency world is guilty of continually under valuing itself and as such clients, including the public sector, are asking for more and more but for less and less fee. It's a tough industry that in my view needs a strong professional body to stand up for the SMEs in particular. To my mind no such body currently exists."
Clients asking for 'safer' work will do nothing to enhance an agency's reputation as being at the forefront of innovation (or their own), and safer solutions may not achieve the client's business objectives.
"This recession is sorting the wheat from the chaff. Which is a good thing. We're still suffering the client backlash from over-selling to them pre-recession", noted an account manager.
Lead author of Design Industry Voices report and MD, Fairley & Associates