Impression Managing Director Aaron Dicks Talks About Digital Transformation

We had the opportunity to have a Q&A session with the Managing Director at Impression, Aaron Dicks.

He answered our questions regarding digital transformation after COVID-19 from the view of a digital agency. He shared how their agency had already been ready for working from home full-time and how their clients have been affected by the crisis.

You can read the Q&A below for further insights.

Q1. Digital transformation for companies and brands has become almost mandatory in a very short time. As a digital agency, how are you handling this process? Can you please share some concrete examples elaborating your digital transformation process?

As a digital business, Impression has actually found itself well equipped to work in our new normal, of being full-time work-from-home. There has been some planning and tool selection along the way, but the real success here has come from the flexibility of our team, who have really stepped up to the challenge, despite the circumstances.

Our digital transformation has been very organic since we founded the company in 2012. We’ve never bought a file or network server, and have always opted for cloud services and storage where possible. We use Google Suite Enterprise internally for our business productivity toolset, and a number of off-the-shelf and bespoke cloud tools internally for managing client work, our team and finances.

All communication runs through Google Meet and Google Voice, which means, in reality, many of our clients wouldn’t normally know if we’re in the office or not.

Q2. Can you share some precautions you have taken to continue business as usual during the COVID-19 outbreak?

I’m not sure we’ll ever manage “business as usual”; however, we have been making changes to ensure the wellbeing of our team is maintained during this time of prolonged isolation and to ensure our clients are receiving at least 100% of what they should be expecting, too.

Firstly, on the team front, we’ve stepped up our communication even further, as we know communication, even when there is no news, is critically important from a wellbeing perspective. We’ve also maintained all of our weekly and monthly team activities, albeit virtually, and we’ve stepped up internal team “standups” and line manager catch-ups, too.

For our clients, we’ve also stepped up communication. Among other things, we’ve ensured an individual from the senior leadership team is in regular contact with each key client stakeholder to discuss the ongoing business impact with them. This has meant that we’ve been able to reaffirm our position as a trusted partner to our clients throughout the process, and offer our help and support where possible through the crisis.

Q3. What industries are your clients mainly focused on? How has COVID-19 affected these industries?

Impression doesn’t actually have a specific industry focus; however, we are seeing the impact that many are; home improvement and gym equipment on the consumer side are up, travel, leisure and some retail are down. On the commercial side of things, SaaS providers have been doing extremely well.

Q4. What are your insights into digital transformation within different industries? How do you think they will evolve?

I actually wrote a piece about the lasting impacts of COVID-19 just recently, but the main takeaways would definitely be:

  • A larger and quicker shift from traditional to digital advertising will happen – as more ad inventory is available and out of home and traditional media outlets get fewer eyeballs.
  • There will be increased video conferencing in both the business and consumer setting following the outbreak.
  • Now we’ve proved that as a country we can remote work, especially in digital settings, I’d expect to see even greater workplace flexibility into the future.
  • SaaS vendors, cloud productivity suites and cloud storage will all replace its traditional counterparts, if they haven’t already. The benefits of collaborating as a team, at speed, without the distractions of a traditional office have now been realised by the many.
  • Events as an industry will not be the same for some time — with many online meetups and summits taking the place of in-person events for some time. Many companies were slow to adopt this approach at first, but it’s evident that this digital-first approach is now being adopted.

Q5. Companies are now investing more on various digital channels. Based on your know-how in digital marketing, which sectors should focus on investing in which digital channels?

I’m a true believer in advertising through a recession, as has been taught in business schools for decades. That is, of course, if you can. I’ve seen and heard first hand from plenty of business owners how it’s just not feasible or possible from them to follow this advice right now.

We know of plenty of sectors which are doing well, but I wouldn’t immediately suggest changing your marketing plan at this stage to pivot towards them. Any direct approach right now might seem desperate or insincere. We’ve been doubling down on our evergreen and longer-form content marketing and marketing automation. For businesses where this is a strategy that’s suitable, I’d suggest the same.

Broadly speaking, and business involved with the following could be investing a little more right now; most retail, finance, food, healthcare, digital media, e-medicine, SaaS software, subscription boxes, home/DIY, gym equipment. There’s too many to list!

If you’re interested in seeing Google data direct, then I’d suggest checking out this tool which shows a small selection of rising search queries this month or week.

Q6. After the COVID-19 crisis, it is expected that the need for digital agencies will increase. Companies will invest in digital more than ever. In this case, why do you think they should partner with your digital agency?

Impression is a well-established agency that has consistently delivered excellent client case studies and results time after time. We’ve won awards across all of our service categories to help us evidence this, too. You can see Impression’s portfolio and Impression’s awards.

Beyond the gongs, I’m also incredibly proud to call our talented team friends. We’re a commercially astute bunch, who like to take a scientific approach to what we do, and we don’t take anything ar writ without deep diving to ensure we’re working with data we trust.

We’ve slowly grown out our service offering based on our team’s unique skills, and based on client demand, so we’re confident in everything we say we’ll deliver. We also offer pre-engagement audits, so what have you got to lose!

Q7. Are there any practices that you have adjusted during COVID-19 that you would like to continue after this crisis ends? (e.g. remote working)

Remote working is the biggie here. As I mentioned, we were building for this anyway but now we’ve had time to adjust I think it’s going to be with us, to some extent, for the long haul.

We’re continuing to invest in our technology into the future, too, launching a new social intranet this month to improve our internal communications even further.

Q8. How does being a DAN member contribute to your agency’s success?

The DAN is a trusted resource for brand-side marketers looking to partner with the best agencies out there, and we’re proud to be listed and featured as one of them.

About Impression

Impression is a multi-award winning digital agency, specialising in the delivery of high performance campaigns across SEO, PPC, analytics and digital PR.