Join James and Chelsea in this episode as we discuss how we use The Drum Recommends Awards as client feedback to continuously improve our service offering. We also cover why we chose to align ourselves with The Drum Recommends and how we became one of the most awarded creative agencies in the UK.
The Drum Awards
Podcast The Drum Awards
Hi, and welcome back to you. So what’s up, I’m with James state, and we’re gonna be chatting about all things the drum and agency awards.
Hi, James. So we are currently one of the most awarded creative agencies for under 40. Staff in the UK. And I just wanted to ask you a few questions really about the drum, why you started to, I guess, be affiliated with them, how that came about, and how much work it’s taken over the years to actually get the amount of awards that we have.
Yeah, no worries. So we have been working with the drums since before it was the drum. So I think back at about 2014. And it used to be called something called the recommended agency register, which actually is arguably a better name, actually, because you know what it is? We always saw it as one of those sort of more aspirational things that agencies of a certain size went into. And then because that agency could be on that register and go actually were recommended agency. So yeah, we have, we do the services. And, yeah, we are recommended by the service for them, which gives an element of trust and confidence to anyone looking to work with us. So we were with the recommendation register for a few years. And the way it works is that we do some work for a client, we tell them, we’ve done X projects for whatever the client name is, you add the clients details, their system, they then independently contact that client and go, Okay, so marketing did this work for you? What do you think of it? So it’s like, so they give scores out of 10, they give a commentary on their customer service experience with those and the outcomes. And then what happens is every year, the service would then collate all those results into a big league table. And the agencies with the highest numbers then get put into the award system. And then they get filtered down through the judges reading the comments from the clients. So what we were finding was that actually, it suited the kind of way we work, because we have quite a lot of clients, and are quite a lot of reviews and a lot of people that were willing to give nice reviews to us. But also we also use that as a customer service tool to look at where we need to improve our processes, too. And I think you’ve seen some of those comments as well, haven’t you? So obviously, anyone involved in service delivery in the agency gets mentioned in those comments quite a lot, even down to Morgan who just handles some print for us internally. But yeah, it’s interesting to read the comments, because we can see where we need to do better or where we’re really just smashing it. So that’s been so that’s kind of why we originally started doing it. It’s more of a customer service feedback tool than anything else.
Yeah, I think it’s great as well. Because just from like my own market research knowledge, people are always more open, I think when it’s like a third party, because for example, me is like the marketing manager, I could ring up these people and be like, Oh, do you want to talk to me about your recent project? And how was it? Can you give me a review on what you thought? And if you got any testimonials for us? And they’re always I don’t think they’re ever as candid or as like I guess, generous in their constructive feedback when it’s an internal person. So actually, the learnings that we can get from it is quite good.
No, that’s right. I think it’s interesting. I mean, the scoring themselves, isn’t that relevant, actually, to us as relevant to the way that the service works in terms of scoring and rating agencies, but it doesn’t actually help us in terms of knowing what we do really well. But the comments on there are really, really interesting. So just I’m just sort of thinking back over time, some of the comments, we’ve had really random stuff, like Mike’s really happy guy, that was quite a good one. All the way down to this experience was really good. But maybe this, this part of the process could be better. And that was really interesting to do. So actually, from that point of view, it’s a really great tool. So I suppose nowadays most businesses will probably know this as something more like a net promoter score. Yeah. And it was almost like an early stage version of that. But one that’s linked to an award system as well. So it’s like you said, though, you can there’s an element of if you go to an agency that’s got recommendations for third party service, there’s an element of trust there. That is not just the agency saying, look at us, we’re great. It’s look at look elsewhere. Great. And by the way, this third party service also Saturday. Great.
Yeah. And I think as well, I can because I did for the content marketing awards, and I did it last year, and I’m doing it this year as well. And because obviously that is like you actually have a judge in your reading, I guess case studies, the agencies or like clients themselves, or client side, people themselves have actually created you kind of go off like okay, well, who’s got the most data in here who creates the most compelling business case? And there’s nothing really about like the clients or the customers actually involved the level of service that they had. You just take it off at They face value in terms of like, okay, they managed to achieve this many impressions or this much engagement. And it, I think
that’s the thing is they are very much relying on the agency providing that data as well. Yeah. So obviously, yeah, we’ve looked at lots of reward systems in the past. And some of it’s just peer reviewed. So they look at and go, Yeah, we like the design you did for this more than that agency design for something else.
Yeah. But you lose focus and have actually the most important people. And that is, has the client that has paid that agency, the money felt like they have had the best service possible for them. And I think that’s why the drum is quite a good one. Yeah, that’s
right. So obviously, you know, go back to what I was saying, originally, it used to be the recommended HSE register. And it’s that now since become the drum recommends, the drum being the UK largest marketing, marking magazine, publisher, and quite big media outlet really now. And this is their sort of agency end of their business where they just sort of continue this, they’ve got a lot of agents in it. Yeah, there’s, there’s probably a good 1000 Plus agencies of all different sizes. And probably most of the bigger ones in the UK are in the drum recommends that they do split it into three size category. So we fit in the under 40, staff, this 40 turn 80. And then there’s 80 plus. So it’s quite a big range of agency that covers the massive ones, to the very tiny to my man ones as well. So actually, it adds an element of fairness to that system, too. But I say it’s, we’ve been in it for a long time. And yeah, we’ve had years where we’ve won, literally every award we’ve gone up for, yeah, we’ve had, yeah, we’ve won what it’s called the Grand Prix award a couple of three times actually, which is basically the the most across the board, the highest ratings and the most awards for that particular award season. And that’s been amazing to win. And we actually taken clients before down to the weather used to do in person meals and do big events for that kind of stuff. And that was a really nice thing to do. And we’ve also had years where we’ve won a couple Awards, where we’ve sort of focused on service levels on to a certain area. So this year is a good example, where we won a couple of awards and mobile websites, I think it was the category and also digital full service, which is one that we’ve been really focusing on for the last few years anyway. Because we are we do position ourselves as more of a digital full service agency, and the fact that we offer so many, so many services, and we have a better relationship with clients that take advantage of multiple service areas within our business. So actually winning that award was good, because it tied into what we’ve been pushing anyway.
Yeah. And I think it’s nice to have that feedback as well, actually the strategy that we put in place, especially with like bringing on the new services, like the digital services or content services, trying to really amplify what we can offer people that have got websites from us, and all of the print work that we do and the design work that we do for people to it’s actually acknowledged in the feedback that we’re getting.
Yeah, completely. And actually, you know, it’s, it does tie in well, with the branding change that we’re about to make, in terms of saying in the wording digital full service is quite ambiguous. But actually, I think it means quite a lot to us. So so it’s yeah, we do offer a full service. For in all the digital and creative things could be designed could be web could be the digital marketing services that you’ve mentioned, rather than sort of niching, just in web development, for example.
Yeah. And I think that ties in as well with less project based work and clients that actually want to come in and make use of everything that we can offer. And then in turn, we have better relationships with them, because they become longer relationships with them. For example, I have monthly meetings with like our clients, some of them are a bit more regular than that, actually, if they’re a bigger account, but it’s something that’s ongoing, and it’s not going to just stop and once like the project’s done, it’s continuous.
Yeah, that’s right. I think so. So our focus going forward on these kind of award systems is probably going to be focused around that kind of category as well. Because it’s just a more a more rounded way of looking at it. Rather than this very, like, for example, we won awards before for email marketing, or for E commerce or search or web development or print design or, you know, corporate print production or whatever, they’re very individual service areas. And actually, you know, we because we offer such a wide range of things, this sort of the more full service end of things is very much where we want to go anyway. But I can see as carry on with the John recommends. From our point of view, it does take quite a bit of time to do because we have to as we sort of do work for client we have to fill the details and pass them over to the drum recommends half the time there’s issues with like people spam, and have you received an email from them to validate who you are. There’s quite a lot of tooing and froing with that, and it’s also really conscious of the fact that clients that are giving us reviews are doing us a favour and I don’t want to just be putting on in the whole time. So we like this year for example, we’ve had a bit of a break from being too chasi over this because it’s just everyone’s a little bit burnt out with it. Yeah, but going forwards, you know, it’s something that we value as an agency. And we do appreciate the clients help us out with this, you know, and again, and also Yeah, it genuinely helps us attract and win new business. You know, it’s when we first started doing it, it was like a really massive thing, and that we’d won the office drum award. But in reality, now we’ve almost got a bit blase about it, because I think we’ve got something ridiculous, like, say, the 70 Yeah, like 70 individual nominations and awards, and it’s quite a lot. And then, so you get to a point where you don’t then talk about the individual, you just say, actually, we genuinely are one of the most highly awarded nominated recommended agencies in the country. Yeah. Yeah, comparing those to pretty much all the other major competitors. But again, I’m just very conscious that for our own marketing purposes, it just seems a little bit samey that we focus on the drum.
Yeah, I think as well, what we’ve tried to do is and because clients are great web ELP, helping us to add value in terms of like providing us with this feedback. One of my strategies coming in as marketing manager was to actually okay, how do we add value to clients? So one thing that I usually do is being quiet client, focus myself, if there’s, I always keep like a note on my phone on my app. And it’s if I come across, like any questions that I think are interesting, I think, okay, how can I turn this into like content? If there’s anything that is changing in the industry? Like many Google updates that people need to know about? How do we basically like teach our clients things and give them value back and not just talk about like, guess how great we are as an agency? How do we actually add value to people teach them new things, make them interested in marketing as well, because some people, like especially MDs, and stuff that they work with, they just want to like offload it all on to us. And they have no, I guess, real interest into it. But I guess, actually, the more interested you are, the more engaged you are with your own marketing. And the better that’s going to be even though you’re still outsourcing it to us.
Yeah, completely. And you see this across all businesses, don’t us, some people are like, so highly micromanaging involved with it. And some people are just wanting to just want to know it’s happening, but they don’t really care why. And yeah, and it’s interesting. And hopefully, we can shed some light on that and highlight how important it is to be interested in it and how you want to relate it back to a business goal. Yeah, I think some people to look at it as an expense or unnecessary expense, or we have to have a website or why, I don’t know, we have to have a website here. And it’s kind of like, sometimes there isn’t really a point to how people have got to where they are. And so I think if we can highlight the fact that you know, as a as a full service of what we can offer, this is what you could have. And this is how the input you need to have into that or you know, you can minimise that input, if you trust us to work with you on that. Yeah. But I think it’s interesting that people just understand that it is a valuable part of every business, because fundamentally, how do businesses get customers? If people don’t know where they are? I mean, that’s really what it comes down to?
Well, like what you offer and things and I think, obviously, it’s, it’s a great marketing tool for us. But we are very conscious of not being too over the top and just focusing on the awards, I think came when we were working on the new brand, actually. And one of the things I said to you and a few of the guys is, what would you do if we lost all of these awards? Like, take the awards away? Why did you get up in the morning and come into work? And I think when we when we started focusing on like, I guess, like the why and like what we actually interested in? And would we do it without the awards and stuff, because there’s some people here that I can very, like achievement focus, like, including myself, and but at the end of the day, are you actually going to have like the grit and the determination and the resilience to actually stick it through when the times they’re actually tough?
Yeah, completely at this thing. And again, going back to how we’re going to perceive our new brand, right? We actually wanted to take away all this, the talking about away to a point, you know, so actually, yeah, our focus is on the work we’ve done for the client, or the client outcomes are not necessarily the look as look out a great deal. So I think it’s easy trap HDS to get into with with this kind of stuff, where it’s like, oh, that was so great. We won all these awards. But actually, really, when you boil it down to it, you know, it’s those awards are were okay that year, and you’re as good as your last project. And then this could be a number of years old now. So really, what we need to be talking about and shouting about is the work with the client. Now, what recent client projects have we done? What was differences that made to that client’s business? How have we add a strategic support to that client? And all the things that come with that, that arguably more interesting than fancy graphics and other stuff like
that? Yeah, definitely. And I think as well, it’s the whole I guess, we’ve always we’re only as good as we actually make our clients look and the results that we get for them to showcasing that is More important, rarely, then however many awards we seem to are for. And yeah, that’s right.
I don’t think they will do a good benchmark for us to know that we’re doing the right thing with the right for the right people. But actually, yeah, beyond that point, they’re almost a vanity trip. Oh, yeah. And it’s not. Yeah. And everyone likes to be recognised, like you said it or be achievement focused or one there. But fundamentally, it’s also, you know, we’re asking people to help us out with that, you know, so funny balance to create. And I think we’re always looking around for different reward schemes to win. And yeah, we’ve won and been nominated into all sorts of different things before in the past as well. But they’re quite short lived as well. So yeah, you win that year. Great. It’s some content to talk about, and then you moving on to something else. But the thing that stays the whole time is continuing of building up skills in the business that help clients. And I think that’s arguably more important, really,
yeah, and we have focused on that a lot as well with like the same level of scheme and the the appraisals that we do have the staff and I would say that we have processes in place that do try to create that engagement from them, and just give them that enthusiasm to actually aspire to be the best as well, because we’ve got some people that are award winning in their own rights as well. And in regards to a guessing like the design work that they’ve done in the past with like other people, and I guess people that are really engaged with just staying on top of their game constantly learning and I guess they actually want to work in the industry, and they’re passionate about it. And that to me having a team of people that are like that is worth so much more than the awards.
Yeah. 100% I mean, yeah, we’re not gonna stop doing the awards, but I think fundamentally going forwards it’s, it’s always going to be a nice to have not any not the most important thing we think about and do. But it’s a nice thing beyond that.
Great. So if you have any questions on the awards, or if you if you’d like to actually help us out and give us a review on that, please get in touch with us at Hello at so marketing.com