Our last Creative Forum event was very successful; generating interesting discussion among the group.
Steve Harding, chair of the panel discussion, introduced questions around the role of the government in the downturn from picking winners to responding the recent findings of the Work Foundation that the negative effects of the current recession will be felt most by workers in low skilled sectors.
Is there truth in the belief that Creative Industries are better placed to survive through challenging times due to their ability to be responsive to market needs and to be innovative?
Steve introduced Oliver Leggett of IE Design, an established and successful web media and branding company based in Birmingham, to give his perspective as well as advice on how to survive and thrive.
Oliver felt that businesses really need to focus on their niche and what gives them joy so that their enthusiasm can shine through in their work and in turn the company can excel in that field. It is also vital to clearly communicate your strengths and advantages, particularly with your established customers, in other words, go vertical.
Oliver has set up free social media workshops for his existing customers as well as potential clients as an innovative and low budget way of marketing the business. He highlighted the need for good cash flow management by spending direct management time on completing work that is closest to generating income. It is also important to devote time during the week to step back and asses the general direction of the business. To use Olivers term “working on the Business, rather than in the Business”.
Dave Harte of Digital Birmingham, summarised his perspective of the current situation with extremely interesting statistics gathered from his work; a startling example being the fact that 40% of businesses do not currently use a computer at all, and 80% of this is due to them not seeing the need. Dave shared an anecdote around a plumber who may have a spare hour in the day when he didn’t have any work planned, who might be able to make use of his social network to publicise his availability.
Dave higlighted a growing sector of Local Government moving towards using digital media to connect with users to improve the reach and the delivery of their services.
From the floor, there was a discussion around local networks also being extremely important in times of difficult conditions. Annette Naudin talked about the added benefit of social media in strengthening the local network.
We talked about the importance of branding local areas such as Moseley, Bournville, Selly Oak and Somerfield which creates a shared identity for the community and acts as a glue to hold the community together.