13th Studios Fz LLC
Since 13thStudios has a range of services to offer, the industry is large. One the most highly saturated market segments in the UAE, web design, development and hosting is offered by approximately 312 small to medium sized agencies (source: AMEInfo.com). Approximately 70% of these companies offer web design as an auxiliary or just as a secondary service to their main offerings. And only less than 30% specialize in web design; due to the obvious non-profitability of this as a core offering in the market. With the exception CyberGear and ELC New Media there is no specialized full-service web-design agency in Dubai; employing more than 25 designers.
AMEInfo.com, a leading specialist information portal lists 45 companies under the New Media category. Absolutely no agencies in the region specialize merely in 3D animation production; the offering is always auxiliary to video production. About 90% of the worthwhile animation in the recent past (Pepsi adverts, Cadillac, Palm Jumeirah, the World) have been outsourced to companies/freelancers in London or Milan. Print houses have agreements with advertising agencies to undertake design, wherever an in-house design team is not available.
Brand consultants in the UAE no longer restrict their core offering to brand strategy and brand mapping, but extend the branding onto extensions like electronic media; websites and CD-ROMs. As far as software development is concerned, they are the most abundant of 13thStudios competition and there is miniscule margin in software products, unless heavily branded and extremely specialized for the UAE market. These are the current trends in the industry. Arabic software is the only feasible market to enter, especially if web-enabled in functionality.
1.2 Industry’s Major competitors-
Companies such as M&C Saatchi, Aether Media, Oryx Films, T1-Productions, VFX are direct competition when it comes to production and 3D animation offering. The company has lost work to them at numerous occasions over the years. AMEInfo.com lists 286 qualified production companies in the United Arab Emirates. Only about 17 agencies are immediately recognizable or averagely well-known brand names. Dubai Media City’s Business Centre houses a total of 68 freelancers, of which 14 offer 3D animation consultancy. A staggering 736 small to medium sized advertising agencies are enlisted with AMEInfo.com corporate directory. Only 4% of the listing comprises of familiar names; including Octopus, Lintas, Bates Pan Gulf and Saatchi & Saatchi.
Agencies in Dubai pose a threat of each and every offering of 13thStudios, with the exception of software development. Print and Publishing agencies, which are the most traditional of media outlets, approximately 196 publishing agencies classify in the Dubai Commercial Directory listing. Most publishing companies either own or joint-venture with printing presses to be able to offer cheap printing rates. Leading brand consultants today include Gregg Sedgwick, Landor and CreativeIntelligence. Looking at software development companies, there are apparently over 550 software companies in the UAE.
1.3 Comments from the CEO-
The reality: Ad agencies view 13thStudios as competition, when the case is quite the contrary; they are potential clients!
The task: 13thStudios needs to actively promote itself as allies to agencies, and try and form agreements clearly defining their involvement of working in conjunction with their broader strategic design undertaking.
Print agencies pose little threat to 13thStudios, since print is their least profitable offering.
13thStudios claim to develop software is automatically met with, and easily dismissed against, the host of well-established competitors in the UAE.
Perhaps the fastest growing threat to 13thStudios is professional freelancers that offer everything on our portfolio and more, for far less than a quarter of our price.
2.0 The Service offering:
2.1 Customer requirements and expectations-
According to the CEO of 13thStudios, Mr. Danish Farhan the customer requirements are the needs in terms of the main deliverables or products that are created, which in turn is a wide range of corporate design solutions websites, films, presentations, print and beyond.
The 13thStudios range of offerings may be classified as:
-Web based solutions (HTML/Flash)
Static websites in HTML/Flash, email-setup, hosting setup. Development or redesign.
-Web based solutions (Database)
Dynamic websites, back-end development with custom-built CMS, email & hosting. Development or redesign.
-2D Multimedia (Flash)
Flash animation for online advertising, CD-ROM’s and video-loops. Includes touch-screen kiosk technology.
-3D Multimedia (3D Studio MAX)
3D Animation for online use, CD-ROM or DVD-ROM or touch-screens. Video shooting, production and post-production.
Design and publication of brochures, business stationery and advertising collateral; banners, posters & murals.
Design and development of brand-marks, corporate identity manuals. Extended either onto Print, Web or Multimedia.
Development of Windows-based software products. (Only vaguely includes SharePoint)
‘Our extensive portfolio is proof of our ability to deliver solutions on time and on budget. Our extensive list of loyal clients is a proof of our ability to exceed client expectations, consistently.’ – Mr. Danish Farhan, CEO.
2.2 Customer perception and satisfaction-
After days of intermingling with the staff of 13thStudios, we were able to distinguish the methods, tools and criteria used to measure customers’s perception of service performance and their satisfaction, and how all this is looked upon from a very different point of view. Over 50% of business is generated on the footing of their impressive clientele. Not surprisingly, within 3 clicks of visiting a design agency’s website, the user is in the portfolio or the client-list section. According to Mr. Farhan, ‘clients give experience extreme significance. Most times not contacting companies merely because the portfolio wasn’t recognizable enough.’
When it comes to expectations and satisfaction, it is worth mentioning Emirates Airline, DTCM, Giorgio Armani, DIFF, ITP, Nissan, O2 and DubaiLand. We felt that the level of customer satisfaction was quite high and is given a lot of importance as well. According to Mr. Visam Aumid, who is the project Co-coordinator of 13thSudios, ‘at least 60% of new business is aimed at to be generated from our current clientele.’ From what we understood, only a satisfied customer is the one who retains. Emirates Airline (4 projects undertaken in 5 months) and DTCM Government of Dubai (2 projects with 2 more in the pipeline).
2.3 Service offerings-
The tangible and intangible components of the service offering are quite diversified as mentioned before:
13thStudios: the Web Design Studio.
13thStudios: the Digital Design Agency.
13thStudios: the Animation Specialists.
13thStudios: the Print Solutions Company.
13thStudios: the Brand Consultancy
13thStudios: the Advertising Agency
13thStudios: the Software Powerhouse.
Unlike many odd companies claiming the same offering for half the price, 13thStudios have efficiently branded themselves ‘specialist’.
2.4 Marketing Message and customer problems-
An overview of the 13thStudios’ marketing message includes he following features:
-An explanation of the target client’s problem.
-Proof that it needs to be solved immediately.
-An explanation about why 13thStudios is the only company that can solve the problem.
-An overview of the benefits of using 13thStudios to solve the problem.
-Testimonials from 13thStudios clientele.
-An explanation of pricing structure and fees.
-An unconditional guarantee from 13thStudios.
Looking just at the features in chronological order, one may wonder if there could be any customer problems. Yes, customers will always be satisfied, sometimes not. Major customer problems in such an industry is that you cant really measure a service, so
What is the price to be charged for a service?
What is the criterion for reaching satisfaction?
We feel that these two are the main problems, and are looked upon as challenges rather than problems and tackled very effectively and efficiently in their running.
3.0 Service Processes:
3.1 Role of Employees and quality-
The 13thStudios is a well-structured organization with several employees, managers, interns, freelancers etc. This company is extremely flexible and innovative. In turn, employees are flexible and innovative. They are involved as one whole for the delivery of a service, including everything from the bid of a project to the design, and from the delivery to after sales updates. In such a firm, the level of quality is extremely high and the employees realize that as if it were their own. Unusual, but shocking, the 13thFamily has a sense of responsibility and mutuality between each other as if the ’13’ were part of their family name! Quality is given utmost importance by all at 13thStudios and is probably best measured from the eyes and experience of overlooking media standouts, such as the CEO himself.
According to hom, ‘There is little doubt that the quality of an agency’s work greatly helps secure work. But so does the uniqueness of offerings.’ Furthermore, ’13thStudios has been able to create a unique quality affiliated with all its projects in the past. It speaks volumes when demonstrating our portfolio. This high-quality characteristic is one of the strongest link for 13thStudios. Our competent multi-disciplinary Creative Director, Rami Makhzoumi has maintained the high-quality label we have worked towards establishing in the past.’
4.0 Customer loyalty:
As mentioned before, 13thStudios uses several strategies for getting and keeping customers. 13thStudios tries to identity their best (potentially most-profitable) customers. They target new customers with similar profiles-seemed like a very good and safe strategy. Generated by call-in/email inquiries through directory listing / advertising and direct marketing efforts of the Sales & Marketing team. At least 60% of business needs to be generated from the ‘current clientele’. This leads to higher chances of establishing ‘accounts’ with those clients. With mentioning again names such as Emirates Airline (4 projects undertaken in 5 months) and DTCM Government of Dubai (2 projects with 2 more in the pipeline) they do have a substantial retention ratio of current clientele.
Of the stack of projects won until 2004, a good 42% were generated from existing customers. 68% of the clientele are new customers.
13thStudios has a target segment; the ideal customer:
Specifically, the target market is:
A large enterprise;
Preferably in the Government, Hospitality, Industrial or Real Estate sectors;
Requiring 2D/3D Animation or Web based solutions (HTML/Flash or Database)
Contracting digital services for the first time.
Based in the Dubai City;
On querying about what is done or could be done to build customer relationships with 13thStudios, they seemed to have a sort out Marketing Action Plan already. Some strategies are as follows:
A) Communication Calendar
They are in the process of drafting a calendar prompting the sales team to contact each customer regularly.
13thStudios aims to undertake this initiative every 60 days – a long enough period in their industry, given rapid pace of new digital requirements. It ensures ‘front of mind awareness.’ This excludes the actual sales process (checking on delivery, invoicing).
They continually ask customers for feedback on the performance of 13thStudios (in the recent past, this has been difficult) and developments in the marketplace – including their own news.
B) Visibility to Hottest Prospects
For their best customers (and potential clients) there remains regular phone contact, if not in person, besides regular mailshots announcing developments at 13thStudios.
Corporate entertainment (deemed an unnecessary expense by management at 13thStudios) helps in building stronger relationships. The inability to do so dampens the initiative to spend out-of-office time with prospective clients.
Less important clients might receive mailshots via email, and an occasional phone call.
C) Purchasing Cycle Intelligence
13thStudios inquire about purchasing lifecycles of customers, to enable a timely inquiry, for example the Marketing Manager at Porsche informed them that their next digital services over-haul would be in September 2004, allowing 13thStudios a prompt to initiate contact with them again.
Customers whose new budgets start in April may plan the budget the previous October, so they need to approach them before that.
Some of the above mentioned methods are extremely effective and efficient to build customer relationships with 13thStudios.
5.0 Demand and Capacity:
Since there is a large ratio of retained customers, forecasting the upcoming business by existing customers is not that hard. Upon capturing new customers, hence aggregate demand, the company seeks to analyze current situation as well as events, apart from only other companies. For example, the Dubai International Film Festival was announced a year before it took place, this gave time for the company to bid for the project and handling f the adverts.
Since the company started, it was small and personalized. As years passed by, it grew bigger in strength and in capital. However, after our ‘interrogation’, we found out that the main running of the company depends on mainly eight staff member, including three members who founded the company, and five other employed staff. When work is a little overboard, the employees stress themselves to cope up and come out with good results, but in ‘overboard’ situations, in order to balance out the increased demand, their supply (project handlers) CAN become variable.
That is, the use of Freelancers. They employ freelancers, project based and on contract for a certain period of time only. This way in dire situations, to a certain extent, arrangements can be made. This is because, if the company is already working on three or four projects, but unexpectedly, a very big project is at bid, priorities must change and 13thStudios tries its level best to be flexible enough to do so. Mostly, this was they don’t end up with waiting lines, if in the unforeseen circumstances, they do end up with waiting lines, then they would try to ‘compensate’ by charging less, or issuing discounts etc.
6.0 ‘Speculation’ section:
In an industry as such, opportunities seem to be scarce, as competition and benchmarking is the trend. But as long as ‘innovation’ exists, there is opportunity. Hence, vice versa.
13thStudios, is working on a new concept of ‘360 Photography’ in collaboration with ‘Getty Images’. This concept allows people to break the barrier of one-angled photography. If methods as such are used, opportunities will flourish the company.
6.2 Future role and advice-
The future role of Internet and technology in the industry would evolve from time to time; as such an industry will always try to employ new innovative methods and will go to any extent of being ‘differentiated’.
After spending ample time with 13thStudios and its members, the only advice that we would give to a firm which plans to enter this industry is that, you need to have a strong base at first to start off itself. Recognition, quality, personal contacts are all high preferences. Competition exists on large scale, and investment is huge at first and might not reap profits to break even at first as well, but if you can establish yourself well enough, the sky is the limit.
In the end, we would like to thank the whole team of 13thStudios for their full co-operation and hospitality services. We wish them the best of luck and prosperity. 13thStudios Fz LLC authorizes all facts, comments, citations and references.