Archive for September, 2009

My mother is a very bright, competent, entrepreneurial woman.

But, when I was younger, she used to embarrass me in shops by acting all helpless in order to get served more quickly.

She’d stand in the middle of a department store holding the item that she wanted help with in an outstretched hand, and assume an expression of bemused helplessness that would somehow conjur attentive shop assistants out of nowhere.

‘How can you do that to yourself?’ I’d ask.

‘Because it works.’ would be the reply.

I suspect that the same thing is going on when a certain type of client adopts a tone of bemused helplessness when asking why significant increases to the scope of a project can’t be accommodated within the original budget.

Like my mother’s department store persona, the plaintive, faux-innocent insistence on not understanding why it’s not a ‘simple half hour job’ can be hard to resist.

But not for someone with a mum like mine.


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As a ‘traditional’ television advertiser, faced with…

  • Media fragmentation.
  • Ad zapping technology.

…you’d think that a logical response would be to…

  • Explore alternative marketing communication models.
  • Make ads that people actually want to watch.

Well I tell you now, the latter of these two options just ain’t happening. Not based on the evidence of a rare evening of ITV viewing anyway.

There was a time when an average commercial with an average spend behind it would have a decent positive effect. Those days are going, going, if not already gone. ‘Safe’ ads are a much bigger risk than they used to be. So why are so many advertisers still churning out the same old bland, lazy, forgetable rubbish? It beggars belief.

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Fewer, bigger stepping stones.

The secret of a good presentation.

Each stone should be a big, significant, memorable point.

And what carries the leap between each one is the personality, the enthusiasm, the storytelling ability, the belief, the intensity, the passion of the presenter.

This way the audience has the chance both to remember what you said and to ‘buy’ you.

Most people, aided and abetted by Powerpoint, create presentations with as many tiny stepping stones as possible, placed as close to each other as possible.

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Old advertising industry adage

“Agencies are crap at advertising themselves.”

Whilst there are a few notable exceptions, this remains pretty much a universal truth.

And in its universality lies its protection.

Because no ad agencies are any good at advertising themselves, they all get judged on the basis of the work they do for their clients.

New digital marketing industry adage

“If they’re not doing it for themselves, how can they do it for you?”

There are lots of digital agencies that are very good at promoting themselves using digital content and social media.

No universal crapness = no excuse, no protection.

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I did.

By that I mean both that I did want to, and that I eventually did, manage a creative business. I was MD of an ad agency for over 6 years.

What I didn’t realise then but do now is that it’s actually a pretty shit job for a certain type of person.

As your career progresses in agency land, particularly in account management, you get promoted further and further away from doing the things that attracted you to the business in the first place. And the skills that got you promoted become less and less relevant.

I should have been a planner.

And now I am.

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Customer = organisation (e.g. Tesco) that buys from a manufacturer. Buy lots of product and have a direct impact on profitability. Think one to one, two-way conversations. Think capital C.

consumer = person who buys from a Customer. Buy small amounts of product and have an indirect impact on profitability. Think one to many, one way communication. Think small c.

One of the impacts of the social web is that manufacturers are having to rethink their attitudes to consumers. Consumers may still buy small amounts of product, but they can make a lot of noise, and expect one to one, two-way conversations with brands. Manufacturers need to think capital C when it comes to Consumers.

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The day that digital marketing for fmcg brands really takes off will be the day that supermarket buyers accept it as a powerful alternative to TV.

One of the most significant effects of TV advertising is its effect on this small but incredibly powerful group of people.

As long as TV support automatically = extra visibility in store, TV will inevitably be the lead marketing channel for these brands.

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