Poor manners leads to poor business strategic alignment with suppliers
April 12, 2012
I am often amazed at the simple basic rudeness that is tolerated within marketing and advertising, but which leads to poor communication, poor alignment and a large waste of time, effort and resources.
There have been more than a handful of occasions where marketers have arrived 10, 20 or 30 minutes late. Or joined conference calls late, while participants around the globle are on hold.
Every one is busy, but not everyone seems to have the same sense of “entitlement” that pervades the marketing community.
My friend and colleague in the UK, Andrew Melsom at Agency Insights, wrote this article for the Marketing Society publication Market Leader (Quarter 2, 2012) titled “Who is entitled to be entitled?” which I have reproduced below.
Of all his examples of “entitlement” the one that stands out for me is “Keeping people waiting – the most acrid show of entitlement – in one case for 36 hours”.
Time and again I have personally experienced and witnessed marketers running late for meetings to the point that I now joke that if I am waiting less than 20 minutes then obviously they are having a good day.
But there is a cost of this behaviour and that is a blatant waste of resources and damaged relationships as while it may be caused by poor personal time management it creates and fosters an imbalanced power relationship and reinforces the buyer / supplier mentality.
Andrew talks about people being kept waiting 36 hours. I have had several meetings where the marketer just never turned up. Interestingly, these are often the same people who when made redundant in the latest organisation restructure are usually the first to connect to me on LinkedIn and meet to discuss the industry.
Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to meet to discuss industry and opportunity. But if you kept me waiting on a business appointment you will have to forgive me if I am a few minutes late to our coffee appointment.
After all I am a little busy.
Do you have examples of poor manners and entitlement behaviour? Let me know with a comment here. Of course names can be omitted to protect the guilty.
Who is entitled to be entitled?
“Parents who have brought up their children to say please and thank you and to introduce themselves to anyone by looking them in the eye will be sad to learn that, when those same children enter corporate life, their behaviour changes to a sub-prime tendency.
‘The default position taken by many client marketers and their procurement cousins has moved into new territory where agencies, in particular, expect to be treated slightly badly,’ said one agency CEO.
The excesses that demonstrate client entitlement behaviour include, but are not limited to:
- Pompous briefing for a first meeting with the question: ‘Why should you be on the shortlist?’
- Demanding a pen from an agency junior and then using it to stir tea.
- Creating a climate of permanent tension and the prospect of the agency being fired (often cultivated at brand manager level).
- Men remaining seated with a shortage of chairs when women are in the room (their mothers would slap them if they did this in civilian life).
- Not responding to days of exhausting work having completed, RFIs, RFPs and the like – documents go through procurement into the ‘dead zone’.
- The expectation that it will always be the agency that summarises the meeting held on a Friday afternoon.
- An agency gives an answer to a question about its capacity and capability in an introductory meeting, and the client says: ‘…or so you claim!’
- Assuming agencies pay at all times – most notable while travelling when some clients are reduced to the status of children on a school trip.
- Inability to conceal contempt for the creative process – not agreeing to face-to-face meetings.
- Keeping people waiting – the most acrid show of entitlement – in one case for 36 hours.
- Allowing people to eat during presentations (or emailing) – that’s very common in the international arena .
- Setting rigid time lines to agencies, and showing easy contempt for the deadlines set for themselves.
Etcetera, etcetera. Entitlement is even recognised as a syndrome in the legal profession where some lawyers fantasise about their unlimited brilliance and power and inflate themselves beyond anything their achievements would permit.
The suggestion is that, now times are harder, marketers can prey on agency insecurities through behaviour that would be unacceptable in any social sphere. When I was asked to go and see a client at a telecoms company recently, no room was booked, the person I was seeing continued on his mobile – encircling me in reception – without so much as a thumbs-up; 45 minutes later the meeting in the canteen was unproductive. The client was eventually fired and became an extreme user on LinkedIn.
There must come a point when a young marketer knows that, when they have not read the pre-read paper, or booked a room or if they pop in and see someone ‘on the way’ to the agency meeting that what they’re doing is against the basic polite doctrines taught in the nursery. So, what is it that turns them from beautifully bred agents of propriety into corporate ogres?
‘This is something that has happened over time, and has become endemic,’ said one client marketer who is aware that a dismissive attitude exists within his own company. ‘There are various factors like technology, procurement, poor induction and poor examples being set by seniors.’
Leading by example
It doesn’t help that a procurement department, for example, is taught to ‘squeeze them until the pips squeak and then squeeze them a bit more’. What does this teach young people other than contempt for their suppliers? One procurer, who has since moved roles, told me that the internal presentation of achievements at the end of each year was like the convention scene from the 1990 film, The Witches, with awards dished out for misery inflicted.
Given the scrolls of emails today, it is more or less accepted that they need not be answered. Place this in the context of a young account person desperate for work to be approved or just wanting the reassurance that his or her missive is being considered. Not replying is seen as an actively hostile expression of entitlement.
Is the agency world entirely guilt free? Of course not – everyone knows that. They can be arrogant, slow, expensive and inflexible. But you discover that, like children, if you just rail against their right to float about uselessly you will experience none of the joy (such as it is) that they can bring.
A guiding principle could be to take the definition of a gentleman that I was always taught: it is someone who makes everyone around them feel comfortable. If this ditty alone was imparted to young marketers at the point of joining, it would be a great start.”
From the Market Leader, Quarter 2, 2012 a publication of the Marketing Society UK
Turning advertising production costs into financial assets
April 10, 2012
One of the most overlooked assets are the digital assets created by the advertiser’s agency, design companies and direct marketing companies. It seems that for many advertisers the production process is a consumable one, with new advertising created with each campaign and then once run, usually relegated to at best a “guard book” at the agency.
What are digital assets?
Digital assets comprise photography, illustration, logotypes, design templates and the like. But increasingly this can also include moving digital assets such as film and video footage from commercials and corporate and training videos and music and audio tracks from radio, on-hold music and the like.
Basically any creative or production element can be now stored in a digital format on a server or similar storage system.
Why are they assets?
Firstly in each case there is a financial cost or investment inherent in creating these elements. The initial investment is often just seen as a cost of production, and if the elements are discarded then they are simply that – a cost.
Secondly, if these elements are stored in a system that allows version control, systematic access and cataloguing then these become assets that can be reapplied and re-purposed to create new materials with minimal cost, thereby realising the value and providing a return beyond the original investment.
Finally, these assets appropriately managed can add value to your brand and business. Likewise, mismanagement through incorrect version control and the use of old or out-dated assets can negatively affect the value.
What are the obstacles?
The obstacles to realising the value of these digital assets:
- These assets are created by external suppliers and often reside in their control. Some suppliers are unwilling to provide copies of these to the advertiser, even if they are contracted to do so, because they see that possession of these can provide assurance for the continuation of the relationship.
- The assets are often encumbered by poor negotiations and agreements regarding talent fees and copyright ownership, which makes the realisation of the value of these assets complex and costly.
- Few advertisers can justify the time or financial investment to collect the assets and populate a catalogued storage system because they are unable to determine the value of such a system to build a business case.
What are the opportunities?
At the ANA Marketing Financial Management Conference last year, Nancy A. Nelson, manager, Marketing and Communication Services, and Dale R. Bohnert, manager, 3M Brand Identity and Design at 3M Corporation provided a case study in how they partnered with their external creative partners to revamp the brand identity system, resulting not only in a lightning fast global roll-out and execution, but in solid business growth for all involved.
While there are many products on the market and many suppliers who can provide these services to advertisers, relatively cost effectively, the biggest issue is identifying the size of the opportunity.
What do you think is the value of all of your digital assets?
Another reason why marketers and procurement should engage a search consultant
April 3, 2012
Apart for knowing the industry and having knowledge of the agencies and their capabilities, culture and conflicts, search consultants are able to act on an advertisers behalf without alerting the industry to a possible review.
Recently this story appeared in AdAge and was drawn to my attention by Tony Quail, a business director here at TrinityP3. Tony was surprised by the fact that the company thought that they could make these approaches and that speculation would not arise?
We regularly have our clients ask us to provide a market search against their supplier selection brief. This is based on us being able to access databases including Adstrument, Adforum and our own TrinityP3 Global Agency Register.
Then we are able to contact the agencies confidentially and without revealing the client, get confirmation on the currency of the information we have. Because we are managing 50 or more of these searches a year it is almost impossible for the agencies to determine who the client is that we represent.
Just another reason to engage a search consultant like TrinityP3 when you are planning to undertake your next agency review.
When marketing pitch consultants get agency remuneration wrong
April 1, 2012
Had a phone call the other day from an agency CEO. It seems that they are in negotiations with a potential client and another consultant (a competitor) is managing the process.
The consultant has proposed annual billable hours of 2000 hours per year. The agency queried the consultant and said that they believed that the industry standard in Australia was 1600 – 1650 hours a year.
The consultant replied, in front of the client: “…we didn’t realise staff at your agency only worked part time…” Ouch!
Now if our competitor had downloaded our free business iPhone app the TrinityP3 Resource Rate Calculator they would be able to see their mistake.
Billable hours is the number of hours a full time FTE can work in a particular market. This is calculated based on:
- Number of hours worked per week – 37.5 hours is a standard in Australia, but can also be up to 40 hours.
- Number of public holidays per year – Including State and National holidays this is ten per year
- Number of days annual leave per year – 4 weeks leave or 20 days is the standard
- Number of days sick leave per year – 10 days sick leave is allowed. It may be sometimes less, but generally 10 days.
- Of course there is also a percentage of time given to staff training, professional development and agency administration etc, but lets leave this at zero.
The TrinityP3 Resource Rate Calculator shows that this adds up to 1650 hours per year.
To get 2000 plus hours a year, as the consultant suggested, you need to expect the agency staff to work through their annual leave, public holidays and never be sick. Not exactly a sustainable or even reasonable proposition. But then some consultants throw reason out the window in a desperate attempt to reduce costs.
Which is a real insight into the consultant, isn’t it?
PS: For those who do not have an iPhone, these calculators are available on the TrinityP3 website.
Strategically aligning your media suppliers to your overall communications requirements
March 29, 2012
Recently, one of Australia’s larger media agencies announced its intention to revamp its management structure with the objective of expanding its strategic planning expertise and building some ‘centres of excellence’ around the various and ever expanding media disciplines.
This highlights the very broad base of disciplines now encompassed by the term ‘Media Agency’ and the complex matrix of specialities, specialists and players now plying their trades in the market.
Most of the bigger media agencies have developed varying levels of expertise and silos of specialisation to suit the changing face of the market. Research, Analytics, Channel Planning, Technology, Consumer Insights, Sponsorship, Online, are just some of the relatively newer areas of proficiency and sit alongside developments of some of the older functions like ‘Strategic Planner’, ‘Trading Director’ or ‘Business Manager’. One could be forgiven for assuming that some of the latter are merely re-badged versions of more traditional roles.
Breaking It Down
Along with internal specialisation, there are the specialist ‘consultancies’ that concentrate in very specific disciplines and work alongside the more traditional media agency structure. The most obvious perhaps is the media strategic and analytics agencies that sit apart from the implementation and buying agency in order to provide their clients with advice ‘untainted’ by any suggestion that they are not ‘media neutral’.
They are ‘arms length’ from the media and their remuneration is in no way dependent on media channel selection so they can claim the high ground in this area. This view conveniently ignores the fact that many ‘full service’ media agencies are now also remunerated in such a way as to make the media selection process totally separate from the way they make their money.
Freedom of Choice
As the now long established ‘unbundled’ market originally resulted in the establishment of a highly competitive segment of ‘independent’ media agencies, it’s evolution has seen these specialist consultancies emerge to serve yet another ‘niche’ in the market. What does this really mean for the advertiser? Ultimate freedom of choice.
Like the look of a particular media agency for their buying ability? No problem, hand them just that function. Feel a good ‘chemistry’ with the strategic specialists elsewhere? It’s theirs! Want to use a specific researcher within another company? Or excited by the possibility of that analytics company? Have them provide you with a proposal.
The real problem for advertisers now is too much choice. How do you benchmark the abilities of your current media agency? How do you compare the efficacy of their specialist divisions with independent alternatives? Is it better to unbundle everything and take the best of each discipline or accept the ease of a ‘one stop shop? In a competitive review, how do you make sense of all the claims and counter claims across so many areas of expertise?
The Bottom Line
The fact is that there is no single solution for all marketers, just as there is no single strategic requirement. Our approach is to clearly the define the current state against the current and future strategic requirements and then identify the best model and structure to deliver this. We call this the TrinityP3 Strategic Supplier Alignment and it works across all disciplines or one discipline like media and channel planning.