Creative Services Q4 Quarterly Pulse

Creative Services Q4 Quarterly Pulse

by Myles Watling
February 10, 2021

In the fourth quarter of 2020, we asked our independent creative services clients a few questions to gauge how the industry was coping several months into the COVID-19 pandemic. We focused on clients under $10 million in gross revenue.

The first question was around staffing and plans for future layoffs. Many had taken PPP loans and used all of the funds, but Congress had not yet passed another round of stimulus. Of the respondents, 72% had no plans for future furloughs or layoffs, 17% said that they likely would cut staff and 11% were on the fence.

Next, we asked about new business opportunities. The responses showed that 61% of firms had been involved in three or more new business pitches in Q3 2020, while another 22% had participated in between 1-3 proposals.

The third question was around client spending. We asked when they were anticipating client budgets would return to pre-COVID levels. Half of all respondents were uncertain and 22% felt it would happen in the second half of 2021. While 17% felt it would happen sooner and 11% had already received word that budgets for Q4 were recovering.

Our fourth question centered around plans to return to an on-site office as opposed to their current remote workforce. We wanted to know if these companies were eager to return to their offices, or if they expected to continue work-from-home arrangements once restrictions eased and safety permitted. The survey indicated 78% of respondents would retain a mix of in-office and remote workforce staffing going forward, while 22% said they would continue as remote-only. None said they would return to the office entirely, or immediately.

Last, we asked these clients about their concerns for the new year. We found that 37% of respondents said attracting new business was their biggest concern. For 26% of respondents, worries about client budgets was the primary issue. As their stimulus funds were running out, 21% had cashflow concerns and 16% were concerned about attracting and maintaining the right talent.

Overall, the results indicate that the industry has adjusted to the new status quo. While many were concerned about revenue and cash, most remain hopeful that recovery is on the horizon before the end of 2021.

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Myles Watling, Consulting | Armanino
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