Celebrating 25 Years: a day in the life of a Design Inc Director

Celebrating 25 Years: a day in the life of a Design Inc Director

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To celebrate Design Inc's 25th anniversary, we look at a day in the life of the Client Services Director, Frank Norman.

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Design Inc is a very busy creative agency and Frank Norman is the Client Services Director.

The first point of contact for many clients’ project requests, Frank also often fulfils the role of account director, project manager as well as being responsible for business development – he is adept at wearing many hats! We asked Frank to share a typical day working at Design Inc. The day in question is Monday 3rd May.

Returning after a Bank Holiday weekend, I’m expecting to come into a wall of emails. I say ‘expecting’, but the reality is I logged onto my work emails over the weekend so I already know what’s waiting. Naturally, international clients don’t share our Bank Holidays, so I also need to deal with voice messages that were left for me yesterday.

We are a busy creative agency and all the team are scheduled to be working from home today. My morning routine begins with a 5000m row on a rowing machine, followed by a shower and light breakfast and in the office (spare bedroom!) by 8.15am.

With three video meetings scheduled, two of which are before 10am, I scan my ‘to do’ list, check emails and action as many priority jobs as possible before the first meeting at 9.00am. One client, for whom we have been rebranding a series of documents, has requested a number of edits to be made on seven of the 15 we supplied last week. I email a simple brief and the client’s marked-up PDFs to Goldie, one of our designers, who I know is busy working already. The changes won’t take too long to make but I’m aware that he’s also juggling many other projects.

Of course, juggling is a familiar situation for any busy agency. It’s great to have plenty of clients and to be kept busy, but we always have to carefully consider the resources we have available. The great thing about Design Inc is that we are very good jugglers and always manage our time so that we very rarely miss a deadline.

Back to my ‘to do’ list. Heavily underlined is a note to get all relevant projects across to accounts for invoicing before ‘month end’, which is fast approaching. Looking at the ‘open jobs list’ on our CRM system, there are 102 projects in progress. Like I have said – we are a busy creative agency.
Many are larger projects and have been part-invoiced / invoiced to date and I go through the ones that can now be fully invoiced and closed. I ensure each relevant ‘job bag’ in the system is allocated the right invoicing amount and let our finance manager know that these are ready for her to raise & send the invoices.

Almost 9am and it’s time to hop on to Teams for the morning staff meeting. We go through the current workload, discuss new requests that have come in and plan everyone’s schedules for today and beyond. The whole team is involved, which means we are all aware of the projects moving through the studio. Normally, this would take half an hour but this morning, there are many projects to discuss – with the EBACE and Farnborough aviation events approaching, we are handling multiple jobs for our many clients in this sector.

The meeting ends at 9.50, leaving me ten minutes to prepare for the next, a review of a website build that’s near to completion. I spend 20 minutes on a Teams call with the web developer to go through our snagging list. There is one outstanding tweak to make but the site will be ready to show our client tomorrow and agree the launch date.

Meetings done, but no time for a break

To celebrate Design Inc’s 25th anniversary later this year, we’ve planned a little self-promotion, including a series of associated articles posted on our blog and over social media. Over the past few weeks, the copywriter and myself have agreed the list of articles to be written. Some focus on the company and the team, some on our clients and others will reflect on the work we’ve created over the years. Some need my input and today I have to remember to keep making notes for my ‘day in the life’ article! So, I note down what I’ve done today so far and my intention is to update my notes every hour. That’s the plan anyway!

Meanwhile, Goldie has just sent through the updated artwork files. I double check that the requested changes have been made, which they have, so I can send them to the client. Job done and on to the next…
We completed the build of a single-page website (holding page) last week. We were planning to host the site for the client but they’ve just called me to say they’ll do it themselves. I just need to supply the details for the A record and CNAME record, so it’s a quick email and yet another job completed!

Over the past few months, I’ve been looking for a suitable replacement for our existing CRM system. We’ve relied on it for the past 15 years, it does everything we need – quotations, invoices, purchase orders, time sheets, team & task scheduling, document storage and so on – but it’s being discontinued and no longer supported. As such, we need a replacement by September at the latest. Working with Kelly, our Finance Manager, we compared two shortlisted systems and agreed that one suited us better than the other. I arrange for a two-week demo to come across to me tomorrow so that I can familiarise myself a little more with the product and thought I’d make a list of functions to explore during the demo period. That was the plan anyway but I’ve just spotted several emails that now need my attention…

For the past 14 years, we’ve produced a quarterly magazine for Global Underwater Hub, the industry body for underwater business sectors, and our client has just sent through some images to be featured in the next edition we are currently working on. As well as print and PDF versions, we also create a version in In5 software, enabling us to add movement to the pages, particularly the front cover and the featured articles. The next edition will be 32 pages and the front cover will feature six images that appear one after another and slowly merge into a montage. Artwork needs to be with the printer by the end of the week, so my next task is to look at the images supplied and agree with the designer which ones will work best for the front cover concept.

That done, I return to compiling that list for the CRM system demo. I’m looking forward to having a play but am well aware that swapping to a new system is going to be quite a task – data collation and reduction, transferring, onboarding, training, it’s all going to take up a lot of time. But it is so essential to the future smooth running of the business.

Lunchtime already!

1.15pm and time for a quick lunch break. I’m keeping it healthy – soup and some fruit – though I very much doubt it will help me be beach-body ready when I go on holiday in two weeks!

In the half hour I’ve been away from my desk, two new jobs have arrived via email – an eNewsletter template to be designed & coded and a range of social media adverts to be created to promote a community event. I add them to the system, update the work schedule and send emails back to both clients with requests for content.

My next meeting at 2pm is with a marketing consultant who is working closely with me to create a digital marketing strategy. As they are a specialist in our client’s field they are a perfect addition to the project team. The strategy will help shape the direction and breadth of the digital marketing activity, which will include the build of a new company website. We have a kick-off meeting with the client on Thursday, so this meeting is to agree and finalise the agenda – we get this done in 30 minutes.

Next, I jump on a quote request. A client for whom we have created an animated explainer video has asked for a cost to add subtitles. We’re also building a new website for the client and this video will appear on it, pulled through from YouTube. If the video is only to appear via YouTube, a simple tweak to the account settings will mean subtitles can be automatically created and, as such, it won’t cost anything. However, I do also provide a cost in the event the video needs to be used independently, for example at an exhibition. The client confirms that it will be the latter and is happy for us to go ahead – so that’s another job to add into the system and I also raise a purchase order because we’ll be outsourcing to a third party.

On with the creative hat

Now I need to turn my attention to law and order. We work with a local Police Force, supporting them on wide variety of creative and design requirements, including advertising campaigns, event promotion, direct mail and so on. We also publish their internal newsletter, which comes out six times a year.
Whilst Nick, one of our designers, provides all the creative work, I have, for the past two years, taken it upon myself to devise the back-page puzzle. It’s something I really enjoy – I think puzzle creation is an art form in itself. I never make them too difficult but I do like to come up with puzzles that are well thought out. The next issue will coincide with the Queen’s Jubilee and I’m creating a themed word puzzle, all the questions relate to royalty and one letter from each answer will help spell out a well-known royal phrase. All goes well until I need an 11-letter word that features an H, along with a three-letter word with a G! After some head scratching, I find the words I need and send the puzzle to the client for approval.

Another check of emails and another designer has sent me the final designs for a new advertisement for a sports equipment company. They have recently manufactured an innovative drinks bottle for big gloved sports, such as boxing and this product has just been awarded Licensed Accreditation from the International Boxing Association (IBA). This is the first such product to have received this recognition – big news for the client and something they are more than happy to shout about.

We came up with the core concept some months ago. However, we need to reformat the design to feature the approved accreditation badge. I send the print-ready artwork files to the client and, with their approval, I take time out to promote the story on our own social media and our portfolio.

And breathe…

Over the years, Design Inc has built up a large and loyal client base. They know we are here for them and have a direct line to both myself and Dan when they need us. However, it is important for us to keep in touch with them from time to time and so, with a lull in the email inbox, I spend the next half an hour emailing a few clients.

It’s nearly time to clock off and I realise that my intention of recording my day hour by hour has rather fallen apart. As is so typical of a busy agency, client requests and project demands have to take priority. So it’s a case of thinking back through the day and getting it all written down. My final task of the day is to update my to do list – looks like tomorrow is going to be another busy one!

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