The biggest challenge since I have started running the agency: Corona Covid-19
I have been running the agency dietz.digital, formerly Dietz Kommunikation or dietzk, since 1995. The year 2020 and the corona pandemic situation is certainly the biggest test since I have been working self-employed in this business. Home office for all employees is still the easiest part. Furthermore, there are other questions: What it will do to our awareness, how we will continue in the future, and what impact will it have on the entire industry?
Let’s start with the good news: All employees actively accepted the situation and switched immediately to working from home. This also means that employees who were not familiar with home office adapted easily to the new situation. A great experience for me as head of the agency. Everyone accepted the challenge brilliantly. Everybody takes part and we all keep our positive attitude. The agency work continues.
For those who have children at home and do not always have the full support of their family or partner, it is certainly not easy. My boys are old enough, the big one already works in the agency. The second one will hopefully take his A-levels this year, if there is the possibility to due to the pandemic.
We are optimally interconnected, because we have been changing our systems for years and do not need any complicated server structures in the agency. Through the daily work in our dietz.digital Private Cloud, we were already able to work from all over the world. That was three years ago. Today, this helps enormously. VPN networks or other “outdated” systems are not necessary for our work. Anyone who explores the agency’s “server room” will be very surprised. So the “switch” we made worked out perfectly. You might probably ask yourself why you still need the agency rooms. But everything has its justification, and home office only is not the real thing.
I’m fundamentally optimistic, but there is a challenge to master
I am convinced that an attitude like “A glass is rather half full than half empty.” is the basis of success. Always getting up again, even if it sometimes didn’t work out, is a basic conviction which, by the way, can also be very helpful in your private life.
But agency work in times of Corona teaches us much more. At least, I feel that I am much more concerned with my daily family life and not causally only with striving for the next business success. You learn to appreciate things and situations more and become more satisfied. That’s quite a positive effect in regard to all the suffering this virus causes.
Agencies depend on a strong economy, agency work needs an active economic life
Despite all this positive basic conviction, however, it does not override the laws of the market. When clients are on short-time, shops closed, and thus sales not only stagnate but come to a complete standstill, this also affects the agencies. As dietz.digital, we are certainly a special case here. Thanks to our software tools we are a little more crisis-proof, immediately ready for work due to our digital set-up, and dealing rather with topics that have little to do with classic advertising. But still, this only works for a certain period of time and in the end it hits the main cost factors, which are usually the personnel costs. We do everything to avoid this. Short-time work is not an issue for us at the moment. And the controlling is so tightly-knit that avoidable costs are avoided at all levels.
Many companies are certainly hit harder and robbed of their entire business base. These times show who has a will to persevere and how we can support each other. Every day I experience very beautiful moments here, which give me the feeling that there is such a thing as community in our solidarity system.
Our employees: The gold of the agencies
And we must preserve that. Because the power of agencies lies in the power of their DNA: it’s their employees. Only if this strength remains, we will continue to be successful and can actively and significantly advance our clients, i.e. do good agency work. That’s why it’s also important for the agencies’ clients, often large multi-billion-dollar corporations, not to let their service providers down, and to ensure that they survive economically.
The agencies must be enabled to at least save up capital that will allow them to survive for a few weeks, if things do not go well. Pitches without money, pitches that have been pre-decided. Calculations that are torpedoed by counter-offers that have no economical basis or whatsoever. Meanwhile, enormous terms of payment, which are then often exceeded considerably, certainly do not help here.
But even the agencies often handle the daily challenge far too lightly. Saving up capital for bad times is definitely a foreign word. In an industry where everything always “has to go up”, nobody puts any money aside for the bad times that might occur. Perhaps this realization will remain with us after this crisis. Unfortunately, I, however, do not have much hope that it will become a firmly established procedure.