The Operations Department: Behind-the-Scenes Heroes Defining Agencies Everywhere
What does it take to be dubbed a successful, fully-functioning agency? Building brand credibility is one aspect, for sure. Bringing organisations closer to their customers and audiences is another. A strong online presence is a bonus, and strong data management has pretty much become a prerequisite these days. These attributes absolutely contribute to positioning an agency at the forefront of their industry – but so too does the talent they attract, their delivery on promises made to clients, and the effectiveness of their processes.
For agencies to keep their head above water in a pool of jostling competitors, requires both left and right brain thinking. While agencies can offer their clients a great deal of value though innovation, strategy, data and technology, true human-centred insight is necessary to create an environment that empowers excellence and encourages creativity. In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, the core of a successful agency therefore lies within its operations.
Where once creatives were left to fend for themselves, there’s now a department dedicated to ensuring their talent is not only celebrated, but utilised in a way that best serves the agency and its clients. While an operations department is responsible for attracting the right people for the job, it’s also up to them to put new operating models in place that will, in turn, increase the agency’s appeal to its valuable employees – especially considering the industry’s notoriously high staff turnover rates. Doing so also allows agencies to be more stable, providing a foundation from which to continually improve quality of work and service delivery.
When an agency produces high-quality, award-winning work, it’s naturally a selling point in attracting new clients. Nowadays, though, new and existing clients are demanding better agency collaboration and a full-service suite of offerings, too. So much so that some companies are opting to take their work in-house, hiring their own content managers and writers, and producing their own design and video content, simply because they feel their past agencies failed to truly understand their business model. Yes, they want to see results, but just as much, clients want to be involved in the journey of getting there. This serves as the perfect opportunity for an agency operations department to monitor, measure and report back on campaign performance to clients, enabling transparency and a true sense of trust.
Exceptional agencies are those with a defined purpose to push the boundaries when it comes to creative output as well as client service. It’s no longer enough to motor through projects, ticking off items on a to-do list as you go. Aligning the agency’s day-to-day operations with this purpose is, naturally, the responsibility of the company’s leaders. However, it also falls upon the operations department to ensure the processes and people in place are correctly resourced and managed to ensure success.
The structure of the operations department is going to differ from agency to agency, depending, of course, on their unique objectives and ways of working. What we know for sure is that these unsung heroes who walk in the shadow of creative and client service personnel, are the ones encouraging efficiency, improving turnaround times, ensuring compliance and managing the capacity (and often sanity) of the greater team. Without them, how are agencies to stand out in a cluttered market?
By Emilia Brooks, Operations Director at Clockwork Media