Australia has a history of using many suppliers from Asia, but countless agencies and companies looking to save money have reported to being burnt, and some really badly. However, Australia is adapting and moving forward at an alarming rate, it's doing this by targeting highly skilled university students who understand business and the principles behind it. This not only helps in the design and delivery, but also conversion and understanding the client’s needs.
My view is that being part of an agency that's all in-house is the only way to go when it comes to delivery. Saying that, many agencies use third-party programs and the one main difference is UK agencies always appear to be looking for the next thing in software that can enhance delivery and also in-house costs. Australian agencies are keen to forge partnerships to help in delivery and they have shown lots of resilience by offering more services and areas associated with digital marketing.
Hunger and openness to diversify
It seems to be standard in the UK to have a projector in the office so the whole team can listen and participate with all client discussions.
This is amazingly creative and pooling different perspectives together really drives a sense of being part of something.
When it comes to pitching for projects, and in particular the sales part, the Brits are very polite, which is of course very important. However, Australians culturally lay it on the table in the most honest and up front way to their clients. Although I believe the Brits are honest and communicate extremely well, Australian businesses will always be friendly, but pretty direct during initial meetings when setting clear expectations.
What's driving the trends?
Oz has come a long way over the past three years, however the stigma associated with so many clients being burnt by agencies from non-delivery has changed the landscape, and it looks like UK digital agencies have moved past the churn and burn of the Australian market. This is partly due to the number of agencies in the UK, while options are limited when choosing a larger outfit in the APAC region. Having a smaller choice usually leads to the agency offering more services, which can all be reported on from the same place. It is also very advantageous as all the services can directly help the other, and one report can hold all the information needed for making management decisions move forward.
The British mindset seems geared towards nurturing long-term client relationships, building trust and most importantly advancing the client’s successes. Australia is doing a phenomenal job in moving away from its troubled past and I think we’ll see more UK and Oz agencies combining their strengths over the next few years, so therefore, it's cultural differences driving the digital trends.
Overall, the UK has a more holistic approach as to what it can offer and is continually workshopping, strategising and looking for digital opportunities for the client. I’ve seen evidence of many agencies Down Under now trying to replicate a similar way of working, which will do wonders for enhancing client relations and producing results that nobody could deny were impressive.
As mentioned above, Australia has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, but it's still lagging behind. One of the stand out reasons for this is that it Oz has great knowledge of what is in the digital market, but it isn't quite bringing it all together, yet. Forming alliances in other countries brings a wealth of understanding to any agency and shows readiness to explore new technologies, which can be passed onto clients. In general, Australian agencies look to the UK for direction, however it is quickly catching up.
Pushing innovation and collaboration around the clock
It is really important to have a plan and be willing to invest in the right people. 90% is cultural and 10% skills, you can always teach skills, but we all know what happens when you take on someone who isn't the right fit. The opportunities are limitless by moving into a 24 hour service environment, and as shown by many movie studios, production time can be halved and delivery times can be a major competitive edge, not to mention budgets, margins etc.
Australians are amazing account managers and sales people, but the hardest part as discussed is delivery and that’s what a UK agency brings to the table, not to mention inhouse processes, software, collective strategy and the willingness to grow.
By Jay Salter, Head of Digital at INK Digital Agency