Agency Life: Utilizing the Slow “Summer Slump” to Your Advantage
The "Summer Slump" or commonly referred to as the summer slowdown is when companies across the board see a dip in our usual work hustle. Now that we are officially into the swing of summer, life feels crazy busy, and work… doesn’t. Over the past couple of years, I have noticed a trend here at Exigent Creative and I don’t think we are the only ones. As life speeds up in the summer, work slows down and our inboxes get real quiet.
Summer is a prime time for vacations. For agencies like ours that can mean a noticeable decline in customer requests and responses. You know, a lot of automated "Out of Office" emails. So, what can you do to stay productive and gear up for the inevitable rush that comes in the fall? Here are a couple of things we like to focus on in the summer:
Anticipate customer needs and create templates
One thing that I have seen in the creative industry is a feast or famine work cycle. Clients slow down in the summer for a number of reasons and then when fall hits there is a big ramp-up to catch up on projects and initiatives that were put on the back burner during the holiday months. We try to keep a more balanced workflow - anticipating our clients' needs and making custom templates so that when the work starts to flow back in, we can get through the work more efficiently and not get too overwhelmed with the change in pace.
You can create templates and wireframes for web pages, ads, employee communications, etc. We also like to prepare proposals for promo items that they might need throughout the year. One of the benefits of developing long-term partnerships with clients is that we can really anticipate what they will need throughout the year. For example, we know that one of our clients always does a big holiday party for their customers each year, so we always take a week in July, when we are slow, to start putting together ideas and proposals for themes, invitations, gift boxes, etc. for that event that we know is coming at the end of the year.
Invest in training
Summer is a great time to invest in building your team's skills! There are endless resources right at your fingertips. Our team specifically enjoys Udemy.com and Adobe's Behance.net These sites are also convenient to utilize while many companies are still remote. If you can add new skills or do a refresher course in an area that you are getting rusty, you will be in a great place to serve your clients when things pick back up. It can also really help you to gain new customers.
As an employer, I see huge value in encouraging and supporting professional development. Not only does it make the company better, but it is so beneficial to each team member to gain new skills and be empowered to go outside of their comfort zone to try new things. I believe that creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to grow and given the opportunity and tools to do that makes for a better workplace where everyone is excited to come to work and that is priceless.
Okay, let’s talk about your team’s shared drive; I have a feeling that it might be messier than you would like… at least that’s how I feel about ours. When we are really busy, it is so easy to save something to your desktop with the best of intentions to save it to the drive ‘when you have a second.’ Full disclosure, I am the worst on my team when it comes to this! The number of files that take up full-time residency in my downloads is embarrassing.
When business is slow it’s a great time to focus on these housekeeping projects. Evaluate your file system, clean out your sample closet, make room for new promo products, or maybe do a deep clean of your office space. Our team would be LOST without the help of our project management system, monday.com Even with the beautifully colored labels, it can get messy. Going through backlog tasks,
Take the opportunity to focus on your own marketing
You know what they say about the cobbler having holes in his shoes…the same thing can happen in a creative agency. We have a tendency to rush through our own projects in order to get back to the ‘real work’ of client projects. It is hard to set time aside when you are swamped with client work. When things slow down, take advantage of that time!
Create a marketing campaign, layout your content calendar a few months in advance so that when things pick up, your company's digital presence won’t suffer. Evaluate your website - is there a page you have been thinking of rewriting or optimizing for SEO? Now is the time to do that!
One Step Ahead
Every business, regardless of industry, will have slumps and downtime. For us, that comes in the summer. If you can be proactive in maximizing that time, you can position yourself and your company to hit the ground running when things pick up. Getting the jump on upcoming projects, becoming more organized, building your skill sets, and building out your own marketing strategy in advance are great ways to set your team up for success. Here’s to a relaxing, joyful, and productive summer slump!