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Chris Baine says educating clients is the best way to stay ahead of the game in the fast-moving digital space.

Bringing clarity to clients’ digital vision

SUMO is a Leederville-based digital agency established by Martin and Erin Grant in January 2000.

Created to be more than a website designer or developer, the small business's services encompass strategic planning, search marketing, mobile and Bluetooth development, as well as advanced web application development.

General manager Chris Braine joined the company, which employs 25 staff, because of its growth and strong brand name in the online solutions market.

Competing with the likes of Market United and Vivid, Sumo has grown to work with large national and international clients.

Mr Braine said despite some recent hard times, the digital industry and online applications were poised to overtake spending on more traditional advertising mediums.

“There is no doubt in our minds that this industry offers incredible opportunities for us and our clients," Mr Braine told WA Business News.

Since inception, Sumo has battled the misconception that website design and digital strategy are merely an IT function.

“We are constantly met with the term IT," Mr Braine said.

“Whether it is 'we have an IT guy', or 'yeah ... IT looks after that', this in our mind is right to a degree, but definitely not the right way to tackle a digital strategy.

“The IT department of a business may need to be involved in a digital project at some level like hosting, database connectivity etcetera, but the majority of the time they don't, especially early in the job.

“The initial planning of a new digital project should be done by a dedicated digital agency that not only focuses on the technical side of online, but also delivers the strategic and creative skills that put the client on course to meet their actual business objectives."

Mr Braine said Sumo focused on working with clients to build strategies that were complementary to the company's direction and objectives, which did not come from the IT department.

“Many people have an idea that online strategies are somehow separate from a business's offline strategies, and that is dangerous," he said.

Such a misconception highlighted to Sumo the need to educate its clients and prospects at a high level.

“A big push for us is our ability to attract digital specialists that can fulfil this role and engage clients at the right level at the right time," Mr Braine said.

“Overcoming this issue is all about educating potential and existing clients about the marketing emphasis a digital strategy needs.

“So in the early stages of a client relationship we work hard to ensure they understand what objectives need to be set for their business and we ensure everyone is on the same page before any creative work is carried out.

“A lot of clients find it hard to visualise what a digital offering should be; we bring clarity to this."

Mr Braine said success for Sumo came down to its account service team, which was hired for their ability to help clients see their vision and achieve results in this ever-growing medium.

They also focus on understanding a client's business so they can tailor all activities to suit the overall business goals.

“The digital space is a fast-moving beast and a big part of what we do at Sumo is educating our clients. We never assume," Mr Braine said.

“Since we work so closely with our clients, a positive side effect of this is our strong understanding of their business and their objectives, which means we can provide new ideas and direction which are perhaps outside of the original brief, but often give them an edge in competitive markets.

“Being aware of these types of issues and addressing them means we provide a better service.

“Being one of Perth's largest digital agencies, we have worked to keep our boutique feel, we deliver a more personal service that some of the others simply cannot.

“It also breeds a very trusting relationship with clients who often then give us more creative freedom because they are comfortable in our knowledge of their brand and business."

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