Establishing commercial acumen across all corners of a business

Understanding key commercial fundamentals

Why over 90% of all VCCP Media employees have passed the IPA Commercial Essentials Certificate.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.

We saw established businesses, both client and agency side fundamentally impacted overnight. Businesses felt both positive and negative effects of the unknown; with the emphasis, unfortunately, on the latter.

Whole industry sectors from travel, motoring and retail went into shut-down mode and agency and client folk, along with the rest of the country, were thrown into lockdown almost overnight, with both immediate and longer term ramifications on the world around us.

Clients who had consistently invested in marketing for years stopped spending, many with immediate effect. Others pulled established and intended plans, whilst many clients required multiple plans (quickly) to cover various eventualities based on the relative unknowns that lay ahead.

With UK Adspend taking what was to become a £5bn yoy hit - this highlighted the fundamental need for agencies to adapt to the constant business changes that lay ahead, and to become even more commercially astute across the board than ever before, in order to weather the inevitable storm.

This wretched pandemic highlighted some key commercial fundamentals that apply to our industry on a constant, ongoing basis, and must continue to remain at the core of what we do day-to-day.

Resilience is critical - more so than ever before

The requirement to adopt new ways of working was a necessity on many different levels. Clients and agencies alike needed to find ways to steady the ship and establish new rules of engagement to work in partnership and weather the storm together. A requirement which still stands in this ever-changing world.

Tricky commercial conversations often need to be had

Rules of engagement change on an ongoing basis across the piece, contracts can be questioned and relationships and requirements tried and tested.

Understanding the commercial implications at all levels

This has always been crucial - and now more than ever. The IPA Commercial Effectiveness Certificate is a fantastic way to enable all agency staff, regardless of role in the business, age and stage to better understand how an agency works and how to make key financial decisions within all departments.

It’s free to IPA members (no brainer) and only £250 to non-members - the value gain is priceless.

Understanding EBITDA, costs & overheads goes some way to add colour and context. Simple things such as having a clear point of view regarding scope and efficiency makes tricky client conversations easier to have. Having an appreciation of the fact that the office costs still exist, despite working from home.

We encouraged the entire agency across all roles from Account Execs, PA’s, our Head of Design through to our Business Directors, FD CSO and CFO to complete the certification. As a result we’re proud to say that VCCP Media is one of the most commercially astute agencies in town.

Over 90% of the agency has passed the IPA certification, and the remaining 10% are new starters who will be encouraged to complete the accreditation within the first 6 months of joining VCCP Media.

Debunking the myth that timesheets are only done to check in on whether people are pulling their weight

Seeing past the question - “What do I put time spent doing my timesheets down as on my timesheets?” Using this data to enable the opportunity to get real validation that client scope is out of check, thus enabling both client and agency to review and discuss the realities of resource, cost and performance.

Learning how to say no (politely of course)

Whilst we are in the service industry and it is in our very nature to over-service and over-deliver, it is important to empower people to say ‘no’. Without doing so it perpetuates bad habits and behaviours - setting a precedent that is often difficult to re-right.

Don’t give things away for free

This may sound counterintuitive, but whether it is a product or service, people don’t value things they get for free. It may be a decent short term strategy, but countless research proves this often results in devaluing the product, work or thinking.

Added value and alternative investment strategies

Encourage teams to look at ways to add value vs reduce costs to ensure a positive outcome for all parties involved. Consider the various ways to achieve great value for clients through managing time and costs as well as alternative investment routes such as corporate trade and business partnerships. Champion an entrepreneurial spirit far and wide.

I could, of course, go on and on...but if you’ll excuse me, I do need to go and complete my timesheets!

Find out more about the IPA Commercial Essentials Certificate
Last updated 10 November 2021