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Time management, accreditation vital

IF there is one thing we all have in common and makes us all 100 per cent equal, it is the 24 hours a day we are all allocated. No more, no less. Why, then, is it that one person can get so much done and the next person seems to struggle with getting almost anything done? The answer is how you manage your time, the most precious commodity in the world. Ask a rich man to donate money to your cause and he may gladly oblige, but ask him to donate his time and you will see hesitation. It follows, therefore, that the level of success you experience in your business is directly proportional to how you manage your time and how you put best practice to work in that allotted time. When trying to work on multiple projects at one time – and who isn’t – ask yourself how would someone like internationally recognised pre-eminent business thinker Peter Drucker manage his time to allow him to write 35 business books? He manages his time ruthlessly. There are many advantages to using best practice methods in your business, but these methods are only of use if you actually put them into practice. To make the most of best practice, you need a way to introduce the techniques and monitor continued strategies. Some of the key areas for implementing best practice are: • introducing key performance indicators (KPIs), that describe the ways that working with them can help improve the performance of your business; • employing basic concepts of benchmarking and its usefulness in small business – who and what to benchmark, and the availability of external programs that might be utilised; • benchmarking results can be better understood and used to improve your business strategy and performance if you include examples of improvements resulting from benchmarking; and • some simple form of quality assurance or certification is becoming more an essential of best business practice. Certification for small businesses, such as the ISO9000 series and the related process of total quality management (TQM) can sometimes become a time and expense impost for smaller businesses, so a simple, but rigorous accreditation program might be more appropriate. Not so long ago there was a great advertising campaign where a man in a Hawaiian shirt at a barbecue was asked what he did for a living. To deathly silence he replied he was a banker. Of course everything was righted when he explained he worked for a certain smaller bank that does business with its customers in a different manner to the so-called big four institutions. It’s a great analogy for the advertising industry. Most people in the business have stood around at a barbecue at some stage and been asked what they did for a living. Do they stand tall and say that are “in advertising”. What type of reaction do they expect? Accountants went through a similar time, but the certified practising accountant (CPA) program changed that forever. Now everyone appreciates that behind every great business is a great finance person. The same principle applies whether the business involved is architecture, building, the medical profession or the dreaded dentist. Customers and clients, quite rightly expect the professionals they deal with to be appropriately qualified. That opportunity also exists for people in advertising. Compliance and continuous professional development (CPD) through the Advertising Federation of Australia (AFA) best practice accreditation program, is part of the solution. Most in advertising spend the day concerned with the perception of client and customer brands, business and services. However, it is fair to say we have not concentrated the same effort in dealing with perceptions about our own business. So if best practice is all about standards, professionalism and transparency, how does this work in the advertising industry? What confidence and reassurance does the advertising industry provide firstly to its clients – advertisers and marketers – and secondly, to the wider audiences of business and the community? Accreditation is a significant step for an industry which has traditionally had no rules, no boundaries and no barriers to entry. It says to advertising agencies, that if they want to be accredited and use the accreditation trademark on their letterhead, then they have to show a serious commitment to the industry and staff development. This is in everyone’s interests. A recent survey by the recruitment company Aquent asked staff to identify their preferred incentives in order to retain them. Equal second on the list, above mobile phones, travel and even relaxation facilities, were training and education. The AFA best practice accreditation program, recently launched in Perth by the regional director of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Sam Di Scerni, is designed to address these legal, voluntary and ethical code issues. It also says agencies must have professional human resource practices in place so that staff can be inducted professionally, have their performance reviewed appropriately and feel they are on a professional career path. Accreditation also addresses the community expectations of advertising, with agencies able to demonstrate their understanding and commitment to advertising codes and regulation, the Trade Practices Act, the SPAM Act and other laws relevant to specific markets like financial services advertising. It will show that accredited agencies are working hard to better understand the environment in which a client’s business operates and therefore, greater likelihood that the agency can contribute to the client’s success. The Advertising Federation of Australia is the body for the advertising and marketing communications companies with 165 members across all states. It also offers training through AdSchool. Contact Ken Painter at wa@afa.org.au.

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