I started Zulu because I found it really difficult to find a local agency that met my expectations of what an agency should do. After dealing with a lot of agencies all over the UK, including many of the best in London, I found it really surprising that Birmingham was not as well served with good quality design and advertising agencies. Reasons for this range from client perception of local Birmingham agencies (as having insufficient depth and experience to meet their account needs), to the region's poor image in terms of design. If we look at the Birmingham city image, I would suggest it does not adequately reflect the true nature of the area. As an adopted midlander, I had severe reservations about moving to Birmingham, not because I knew a great deal about the city, but because of the image that the city had.
I have now set up home and a business in Birmingham and feel passionate about the West Midlands region. Despite this, I would suggest that the same reservations I had, are still being experienced by many businesses and therefore, it is hardly surprising that when it comes to choosing an agency, Birmingham can often be at the bottom of the list. So what can be done? To start with, the city needs to develop a coherent brand and apply it in a coherent fashion across all aspects of the city’s activity. Secondly, I believe the city should back itself and use local companies whenever it has the opportunity. I also think that local agencies really do need to raise their game. You can’t survive by selling hours, you need to work further upstream providing advice and consultancy that really understands the business drivers of the current environment.
Design can be great inspiration for attracting new clients and creating opportunities for new business. This vibrant and exciting approach needs to be fostered if we are to grip our present economic difficulties and innovate our way out of the present recession.
Being local has significant benefits. Many agencies will charge for every hour plus travelling expenses, and London agencies love coming to see you in Birmingham for a price! The bottom line is: use a local agency, build a relationship, tell them what you want and what you expect and the rest is down to them. Together you can build a competitive position based on mutual benefit, look at agencies that have a good reputation and speak to their existing clients and most importantly, see if they are prepared to recommend the agency. Thats better than any credential pitch!