Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The birth of the Idea

At MEC we pride ourselves on our bespoke strategy planning tool 'Navigtor' and last week I spent two days familiarising myself with the process which guides you from initial client brief to our final communication strategy.
Each team on the course was given a client brief with an end aim of generating a comms strategy. One aspect of the planning process which proved to be challenging was identifying the consumer insight from the background research rather than just making observations.
An insight is a creative and in-depth understanding of the "Why" behind the "What" of people's behaviour, it is something that is blindingly obvious to your consumer but comes as a revelation to the marketing department.

It is from insights that great communication ideas are born which the below examples demonstrate:

IKEA Facebook Tagging
KitKat Mail

One of MEC's award-winning campaigns 'Morrisons Lets Grow' was born out of a basic consumer insight. This being that for children to really appreciate fresh food they have to get their hands dirty. Consequently the idea of 'Lets Grow' was born. The campaign centred around a voucher collecting scheme whereby Morrisons would provide schools with gardening equipment enabling the children to actively learn how to grow their own vegetables by getting their hands dirty.

A good insight comes from a reality or deep truth which is why they produce great ideas and nothing summarises this better than Bill Bernbach's famous words: "At the heart of an effective communication philosophy is the belief that nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature; what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action, even though his language so often camouflages what really motivates him. For if you now these things about man you can touch him at the core of his being."

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Friday, 15 April 2011

How Entrepreneurial is your agency?

Ad agencies are rethinking what it means to be entrepreneurial and according to an article in the Evening Standard,  are considering two interesting ideas for increasing revenue and winning new business:1. Taking share options in a client's business in lieu of fees
2. Retaining some of the intellectual property (IP) rights of an ad campaign, rather than letting the client take everything.
Although these two ideas are not extreme, they are unconventional for an industry which typically generates revenue from a client remuneration system. This system is reliant upon fixed fees or man hours and very little on campaign results.
The two new trending ideas show great new business potential and are inextricably linked. An advertising campaign (based on IP) ultimately contributes to the success of your client's business (sales and profit) which naturally suggests that agencies should retain IP rights and pocket some of the business share.

However the article didn't really reference the value based model pioneered by Coca Cola which is founded upon performance related pay. Such models would incentivise agencies meaning the best agencies will earn the most.  The flaw with performance-related pay is the complex nature of determining the actual value of a campaign so I think there is room for a model which is based on both performance and fixed fees.

Another factor which has encouraged this wave of new business models is increased competition from smaller specialised digital agencies. Consequently the Evening Standard reported that traditional agencies will need to develop more commercial models which point towards new service offerings or venturing down a non-advertising route such as brand start-ups. Part of me thinks agencies should be stepping outside of the traditional service offerings as it encourages entrepreneurial spirit, but conversely I don't think they should try to offer and claim to be experts in everything. Demonstrating expertise in one or a few services is far superior than being mediocre at everything.

All-rounder vs one expert talent - What do you think?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

New Business: Charmingly Persuasive Bulldog

If I was asked 2 days ago to outline the role of new business within a media or advertising agency I probably would have blagged my way through a very brief description which would have said “it's just about trying to win new clients for the agency”.

However having spent the last two days on an IPA New Business course I am confident and more knowledgeable about what hides under the umbrella that is ‘New Business’.
One thing that has been embedded in my mind is the attention to detail and its significance. Whether this be in the initial prospect email, the chemistry meeting or the actual pitch; if you miss something or make the smallest of mistakes it will be the first thing the client notices and the one thing that will deter them from considering your agency!

The line-up of speakers on the course represented a breadth of notable talent and represented key new business figures including: 4 Marketing Directors of various advertising agencies, the Director of Client Account Team at the COI, CEO of the AAR (Client-Agency Relationship Consultancy) and our very own Business Development Director, Cormac Loughran from MEC.

When thinking about trying to win New Business we were asked to consider the process we would follow if we were spending £56 million on building our dream house. Where would we begin our research? What do we want to know? How do we want to be treated? What factors are going to sway your decision? etc.
A pitch could be won within the first two minutes but equally it could be lost. First impressions are crucial as the ultimate deciding factor for a client is the people and team they are going to be working with. The success of New Business is reliant upon relationships whether with the trade press who write about your agency, the intermediaries between you and the client, the chemistry between members of the client account team, and finally the relationship between your client team and the client themselves.
The pitch process is like dating, no date is ever the same so you can't apply the same formula, however before giving the client any piece of work or information be sure that it is relevant and ask yourself is it useful, interesting and entertaining?

Our learning on the course was assessed by a chemistry meeting with the actual MD of Heineken so it was challenging and daunting to say the least. In teams we worked into the night to generate the content and strategy for our meeting and put together a 15 minute presentation only being allowed to use the medium of voice and a flip chart! The following morning we held our chemistry meeting in front of all the course attendees and presented our initial view of the prospective business and how we were going to create initial standout in a cluttered market. Our idea was to completely defy the trend of the market and create standout by creating silence and we proposed a strategy based around long-term gain vs short-term presence. To top off the last two days I was over the moon when our team got crowned as the winner!

This blog has moved to www.laurarobinsonblog.com