There’s a question whether a company should specialise or remain niche. One way to answer is from your customers’ basic supply and demand: tell us what you want and we’ll do it. However, that’s awfully reactive and perhaps the smarter way is remaining free enough to surf changing waves in the market.
But first, let’s go back a bit. Adido didn’t start life as a full service agency. Initially we focussed on providing design and build for clients as they were our core talents. For the first three years we offered that one service and it allowed Adido to win regular clients, a stable income and enough resources to begin reinvesting. It was a cost effective way of founding our business and so I can understand why start-ups – even large companies – want to be specialised to one single service.
After several years, however, our market demand started leaning towards multi-service. The recession hitting in 2008 really changed both the landscape and our clients’ requirements. From a client perspective, managing multiple agencies is a pain and often they don’t have the time, patience or budget to shop around five different agencies for five different disciplines. We saw an opportunity to build closer relationships with key clients and grow alongside them by handling whole campaigns with multiple services.
Going full service reduced the recession’s impact on our business. Some agencies might have one very strong service but the market moves so quickly nowadays that, in three years,that service may no longer be in such demand. If 90 per cent of your business is dedicated to one service stream and then it dries up, where would that leave you? Probably up the proverbial creek.
So the transition from single to multi-service seemed obvious and it wasn’t as tricky as you might think. As any agency will know, it is all about great people, filling the right skills and getting the right personalities in to the team. In short, developing a culture within the business. Our strategy was to reinvest and so when a new project demanded a new skill, and it fitted with our long-term growth strategy, we hired for it.
We were aware that with all these new services there was a risk of our brand image getting diluted. The last thing we wanted was to be known as an agency which does any old thing. Instead, we took a market proposition that focused on asking clients want they want to achieve, and then deciding which combination of services could accomplish their goal. That’s very different from trying to wow a client by claiming you specialise in lots of things. Offering a tailored response that focuses on a client’s objectives has helped us maintain that market position, and offering multiple services has allowed us to become a key part of our clients’ future strategy.
Once all those different service streams were up and running, we began evaluating them in order to identify trends and help shape our business development. We like to pick apart each one of our services to see which have been the most successful, in terms of reception or finance, and then develop it further. As you grow it’s worth remembering that markets change. What you serviced 10 years ago, you cannot necessarily service today and you have to shape your agency accordingly.
Consequently, being multi-service means we are well-positioned to handle market shifts. As we are already touching so many different areas of the marketplace we almost get an early warning and can react quickly. We have a vast array of creatives under our roof, each excited and interested by different things, so if a new software or social platform comes along we can let these different people play around and discover its potential. From there we can see how it fits in to our business and why it might benefit clients. Working in multiple spaces means we can stay on the front foot and constantly evaluate a range of platforms.
If we were to go back to single service we would probably lose a large chunk of our clients as even those who previously wanted one service are starting to ask what else we can do for them. It wouldn’t make any sense if we now turned around and said nothing. We’d be missing huge opportunities.
Since humble beginnings as four web designers in Bournemouth, Adido has grown into a multi-service agency with major clients including Camelot, Orange, Iceland and Easy Jet.
Illustrated by Slumber Bean
- One Thing I Know