An Agency Called Taxi - A Virtual Agency That's as Small or as Big as It Needs to Be

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After years of working as consultant creatives the founders of An Agency Called Taxi are very clear about what they have to offer, direct contact for the client with creatives and strategists plus the savings of the distributed agency model.

The world is smaller, businesses out-source their requirements in an attempt to keep costs down and maintain a competitive edge. In some cases saving a few pennies off the unit cost of producing an item can make all the difference between success and failure.

So why is it that many advertising agencies still carry such huge overheads and that their clients still pay for them? Perhaps as much as 50% of the marketing budget that goes to a traditional agency is spent on paying for the agency office, cars, furniture, support staff, Christmas party! The other 50% going to pay the staff working to help build a clients brand or business.

Dan Johnson, co-founder of An Agency Called Taxi remembers 'I worked with a large global agency for many years and the pressure on the staff to achieve an x% profit margin on every client account was unrelenting, it got in the way of actually servicing the clients business. It's not surprising though when you consider the agency where paying close to £1 million a year for their office space'

And what of the traditional agencies staff? Many travel for hours to get to the office, juggling home and work, kids and partners. The average worker spends as much as 100 hours a year travelling to and from work, often arriving tired, stressed and not always in the best of moods to think about a clients strategic issues.

Once at their desks, most workers find it difficult to be productive. According to a recent survey in the US, only 38 percent of workers say they actually spend eight hours of their work days working, with 11% saying they only managed 5 hours of actual work in a day, listing co-worker interruptions, the internet and office dramas among the reasons why.

In today’s cash strapped business economy all this wastage is crazy, wasted marketing spend on expensive overheads, wasted hours spent travelling not to mention the environmental issues.

Home working used to be considered something a new parent did for a few months before they went back to work, stuffing envelopes or pyramid selling, it was a world that only appeared in the small ads of local papers with a promise of get rich quick schemes.

However, today home working is a genuine option for millions of people, it solves so many problems and offers the flexibility and work: life balance that would have been impossible only a few years ago.

But the benefits of this new way of working can be much broader that just saving someone the hassle of getting on a train; clients too benefit from both the cost savings on overheads and having happier, motivated and more responsive people working on their business.

Dan continues 'In reality the modern day freelancers are a virtual global agency, what we are now seeing is a new breed of individual, the person who can combine this pool of expertise and manage it remotely to offer a service the clients need, a kind of virtual MD'.

The Distributed Agency or Virtual Agency model is not for everyone, but, if an individual can work remotely, be self-motivated and self-disciplined the rewards are fantastic, being able to sit in Lisbon or London, be on a web conference from their own study accessing all the information they need via a remote desktop.

A virtual agency is as small or as big as it needs to be. It can offer a small start-up business the marketing support it needs to get off the ground because it can manage its costs to suit the budget, only paying the people needed to do the work and not having to cover the costs associated with a traditional agency. This allows even the clients with limited budgets access to services that until recently were exclusively for the bigger clients with marketing budgets to match.

Traditional agencies can move very slowly when it comes to taking on staff. Yes they have access to the same people as the virtual agency but it takes time to find the right people, time to sort them out with a key to the office and time to get the Finance Director to sign off the extra expenditure. And if they have to go through a recruitment process that is going to take even longer and cost money, which again will be added to the clients’ bill.

For the larger companies with the bigger budgets the financial benefits are obvious, but there are other not so obvious benefits. The virtual agency can react quicker, if an individual is unavailable to work on a client’s business then someone else can be found, and because all the people involved work from home, traditional office hours do not always apply, so in a real emergency the problem can be quickly resolved.

Another key benefit is access to global thinking, by using freelancers from around the world the virtual agency can genuinely offer creative and strategic thinking that takes into account regional markets. 'We work with people from as far away as Beijing and Lisbon, most of them are ex-pats so they can understand the strategic thinking and can apply that to the markets in which they live'

Dan concludes 'Everyone from Global Pharmaceutical companies to vehicle leasing clients are enjoying the benefits of An agency Called Taxi's approach, getting the direct service and quick response that the virtual agency can offer along with the cost savings of not paying for a traditional agencies overheads'

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Dan Johnson

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