Monday, 30 November 2009
2. Had a very important re-tender last week which went successfully. Although - we were up against an individual and an organisation that i massively respect so my natural pessimism was partly preparing me for the worst. It has made me think that we have to a) keep innovating and progressing and b) keep the very high customer service/satisfaction levels in order to retain our competitive advantage. I think its fair to say the competition is coming - the bad news for them is that we will make sure we have moved it on again next year.
3. Have decided to have a massive blow out for company xmas do - everyone has worked so hard this year in difficult circumstances - we are going to Arbutus for lunch on Dec 10th and then onwards and upwards from there. There will be talk of going to a club and being out till 3 am - although i expect i will be a broken man and in a cab by 10.30.
4. Our most satisfied customer at moment is MinistryofWaxing - who have been quoted in Mail and interviewed on radio today related to Simon Cowell waxing story. The media found their details via our rather super SEM campaign. Have booked myself in for a pre-wedding treatment - probably not the Boyzilian though.
5. Presenting award tomorrow at IPAC awards - its a gentle re-entry into what was a large revenue stream of ours - where we advised media owners on their digital classified products (mainly launches such as key103jobs, supplychainonline etc). Its at Vinopolis - so have a feeling it might get messy - but then its December tomorrow isn't it....
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Anyway - in this process of meetings i have been able to see many other proposals from other agencies both traditional recruitment and digital specialists (non recruitment) and some interesting ways of making money seem to get slipped in to the deals. Most common listed below.
1. Campaign Management - these costs generally are far too high - either the agency is getting a bad deal from a 3rd party or they are trying to make the margin here. Reporting is incredibly important and a key part of any campaign we run but the costs need to be proportionate - i don't think there is any justification for 20% of media bills for this service - discuss....
2. Appalling media buying - again 2 possible reasons a)cant negotiate with media or more likely b) marking it up massively. Now in the interests of full disclosure - when we have achieved huge discount on certain deals i am sure on certain occasions we have kept part of it (with agreement from client) but its silly when you are trying to charge a big Monster 12 month deal out at 10% discount for instance.
3. Production charges. You absolutely need to charge a rate for work you do - but its silly to charge occasionally v high prices for 30 seconds work.
Interestingly - what i don't tend to see is proper charging out for the expertise involved in planning buying managing a digital campaign - that is the real value but the industry still seems shy to price accordingly.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
As of Monday our newest member of staff Bethan Trezise joined. She is ex Golley Slater and will be a great asset to the team - by accident rather than design we had become rather male oriented so i also hope she may bring a more civilised air to the office too!
We have added new clients in form of Ping Pong, Cote Restaurants (i can't work out how you put a circumflex over the o) and DSGi too in last month so this post catches me in a happy mood.
Also delivered a breakfast seminar on social media and recruitment (is there any other seminar topic at moment) to 5o retail HR managers recently which seems to have gone down really well and has generated some very exciting enquiries)
But the last 10 weeks of year are absolutely crucial in us having a good year compared to just an OK one. So one more big push for us all (we have pitches/re-tenders/large proposals aplenty - not all necessarily good things to be doing) and we can put this "interesting" year to bed.
Friday, 2 October 2009
Thursday, 1 October 2009
However less trumpeted but possibly more remarkable is the following
"Online classified advertising grew by 10.6% year on year to £385m" - this figure relates to H1 2009 (vs H1 2008)
I just don't believe that stat.
Lets assume online classifieds consist of listings (banners/MPUs etc are counted as display) for
Jobs, cars, homes, travel
Which of these sectors was up year on year in 2009?
Most media owner MDs i speak to say that they are down +20% year on year (and i think that is a decent performance - there is much worse out there)
I think we need some clarification from IAB/PwC as it would be a hell of a performance to out perform the UK economy in such a startling way
Thursday, 24 September 2009
- nothing much to say
- writing tweets is quicker and easier
- first decent foreign holiday in too long a time
But back in the chair now and just an update on us - the market and places in between
First the good stuff
1. May June July 2009 - was OME's best ever quarter in our 3 years of trading. That is more a testament to the hard work of our staff - the good performance of our clients and client acquisition (and retention) than any macro economic factors.
2. It is clear that any upturn will be in digital rather than non digital recruitment. The ROI argument has been largely won.
3. We are expanding - added one person to team (details to follow) with one more to follow in Jan i think now - lets be cautious...
4. Some dormant clients are re-emerging blinking from the dark recesses of recruitment freezes and lay offs and wanting to get some jobs out there and wanting to at least talk about social/bus networks etc
5. Really pleased with how we seem to be positioned in the market as results oriented - innovative - practical - no bull shit - great customer service ( i realise that this may be rather biased but it seems to be true)
The not so good stuff
1. What a hard year - it really has been running like a nutter in order to stand still - only on holiday did i realise how bone tired i was. Its good for the soul and nothing wrong with hard work but ideally it would be great if that work paid off in similar amounts of revenue and profit
2. The last 5-6 weeks have been quiet - perhaps a punishment for thinking we were doing so well and soon i would be lighting my cigars with £20 notes. The truth is as we all know deep down its going to be a long hard slog back to UK Plc prosperity.
3. I still know a number of people out of work and i really feel for them in current market - it is not easy getting back in to our business sector at moment - and i imagine a down ward pressure of remuneration has accompanied this.
Finally - 3 houses on my road have sold in last month - so housing market is back or i should close the curtains when performing naked yoga at night
Friday, 21 August 2009
Now here is the issue - we have case studies, we have read 1000s of words on topic, attended many seminars and advised numerous organisations (some even got good advice). The audience is a mix of experienced recruiters, with wildly varying levels of experience in digital and social/business networks. Time slot - 20 mins (+ questions).
So, i sit here pondering - where to start/end? - what to include? - what to to exclude? - keep it to UK or look at US too? while keeping it engaging and pitched at right level.
Clearly as i am lazy - my starting point will be a couple of other presentations i have done on topic that can be updated and then i have a fantastic recent piece of research that i can source/make reference to/ rip off (delete as appropriate)
I often think that the true skill in advising companies on emerging technologies/media is not to know everything and show how clever and expert you are but in translating it into bite size chunks of interesting and useful info that they can go away and use or at least tell their boss and impress him/her.
So in terms of structure - i tend to always revert to "Golden Rules" Top Tips" "Dos and Don'ts" and finish with "Do the following 5 things tomorrow" - its worked ok so far...
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
“Making Online Recruitment Work”
OnlineMediaExperts(OME) was the UK's first advertising agency specialising exclusively in online recruitment. In our three years of existence, we have helped our clients plan, optimize, and develop their online candidate sourcing activity. We have remained at the cutting edge of digital innovation while priding ourselves on “cutting the crap” and delivering solutions and services to our clients that really work not are merely clever or new! This approach has helped us to blossom and grow as a business in 2009 – hence our need to grow the team.
We look after some of the UK’s biggest digital recruitment accounts such as Carphone Warehouse, Odgers Berndtson, Game Stores Group, TheTrainline, Doosan Babcock and Verizon. We are now looking to expand the team by looking for an ambitious Account Manager with a background in recruitment advertising (in media or agency) and an enthusiasm for digital to help us manage our expanding client base.
· To be diligent and have a great customer service ethic
· To be able to communicate the complexity of the digital world that makes your client understand while not boring them to death
· to be open minded to new solutions/products with a healthy cynicism that means you want some evidence that it may actually work for our clients money
If you are interested, please email your CV to our MD at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him in confidence on 07973 865 637
Monday, 27 July 2009
Our head count maxed out in June 2008 and we trimmed back by 2 over the next quarter (sounds a bit cold as these were real life good people) - we then had periods of high activity but also a couple of months when the phones did not ring and we wondered how bad was it going to get...
So we now have had a solid 5 months of growth - an increase in margin on that revenue and some very stressed people including the MD. Also my major concern that when things are busy the new business generation goes v quiet and we concentrate on looking after our current customers (which is 100% how it should be).
So we should recruit at account manager level - yes? freeing up Directors to grow the business.
But...do we want to increase our fixed cost base? do we want to put ourselves in a position that we have to look at numbers again -as the market is very delicate?
I think 1 thing - my fellow directors think something different - i am sure we will make the right decision - as long as we all ending up agreeing with me.
Saturday, 4 July 2009
1. Its proof that the bad guys are not just the bankers/MPs etc. The actions of the Barkers board have to be highly questionable - the act of giving people redundancy payments and paying up notice when you had absolutely zero intention of fulfilling these promises takes some doing. I would like to think most of us would have struggled with those actions if we were ever in a similar position. Still they appear to have kept jobs/pay offs so that's OK then. Oh - and everyone has lost their pensions. Don't think its right to attach significant blame to Penna here but lets hope they can help.
2. The media have taken a bath - i have had figures quoted to me of £1million + from 2 media owners and many £100,000s with at least 10 others. The small media owners who have relied on this money coming in will be absolutely devastated - lets hope there is not a knock on effect. History tells us that there will be nothing left in the pot from the administrators when taxman/banks have had their money.
3. So why give agencies media commission? This is a little counter productive for OME (as we make income from this) but i am really not sure what the media get from offering agencies this discount. The reasons historically were
- Guarantee that you are going to be paid (NPA recognition and most agencies have insurance if clients go bust) - that guarantee is not looking too good after last week.
- Agencies are a channel sell - gives media the ability to sell to many clients via one point. OK - Stop Press - having worked on both media and agency side - i can confirm that most agencies cannot sell there way out a wet paper bag. Sure they could sell a Sunday Times advert for the last 20 years (but not now) but they have been useless at selling online or indeed any innovative launch - so i really do not believe the channel sell argument (unless you are must use/habit bought media).
4. The old agency model is dead. Media commissions wont ever again fund big teams of managers without revenue responsibility - everything an agency does and adds value to a client needs to be charged for and billed. The old model was horrible as it hid all the charges for the brilliant creative work/account mgmt/planning and buying and gave these away as free or nearly free as the cash could be made by over the table and under the table media deals.
The new model can work - sorry to blow our own trumpet but we are up year on year - our billing is completely transparent and i am proud that in some areas we are stupidly cheap and in some expensive to use (depending on how much work is involved).
But best to end this by sending best wishes to the ex Barkers staff and the media owners affected.
Friday, 19 June 2009
- Its clever
- Its logical
- It is not pretending to be something - its not. Its just fast neat realtime way of delivering jobs - like a souped up jobs by email
- Its innovative
- they appear to have got it done pretty quickly and will no doubt learn how to improve and enhance it in future
Clearly the job matching technology to the your Twitter profile is flawed and is not going to deliver perfect (indeed anywhere near perfect) jobs but its a start - and i think its a pretty darn good start!
Monday, 15 June 2009
1. UK digital marketplace is about 10 times more complex than virtually any other territory we book in. More sites more sectors - no other country has about 15 sites claiming to be the nation's leading IT Job board for instance
2. In other territories the general boards (Monster/Stepstone/Seek/Careerbuilder etc) are much more dominant over the vertical players than the UK
3. With all tracking and tagging done correctly - you have confidence that the campaign is set up and is running as it should be consistently across all territories (in olden times - there was always a fear of whether adverts ever appeared)
4. Time differences are no longer much of a problem - as people work more flexibly and can email acknowledge react at times above and beyond 930-530 local time.
Anyway an example of one of those things in life that is getting easier not harder
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
2. Launch a product for charging candidates to access jobs that are freely available elsewhere
3. Get depressed that everyone on Twitter seems to lead a more interesting life than me full of holidays, 30 mile bike rides and blissful family days out while i fall asleep in front of Britain's Got Talent having realised i need to purchase some new "naughty steps"
4. support a bunch of foreigners when i should be supporting OUR bunch of foreigners tomorrow night - i will be a once a year Man U supporter
5. finish the copy for OME website redesign (again...)
6. Pay too much for 2 contract renewals we have - the times are hard and prices for our clients will need to reflect that. May go down to the wire....
Monday, 11 May 2009
1. It was a mixed room of recruitment companies and direct recruiters (prob 60-40 in favour of direct) - and LinkedIn are pitching their commercial effort squarely at direct market which led to interesting Qs from the floor from the recruiters. It was almost like recruiters were a "necessary evil" (my phrase) for LinkedIn - but the direct model was the Holy Grail - probably a reflection on the US ownership.
2. Simon expressed some concern about how this message was going to go down but my view was surely we can all see that if LinkedIn allowed unfettered access to profiles to all rec cons it would be the surest way to kill their growth stone dead as the back lash to receiving loads of unwanted contact via LinkedIn would cause quality candidates to remove their profiles. To be fair most of the rec con attendees understood that fully.
3. Nobody was prepared to state it too loudly but there was an unmistakable air of slight optimism in the air - certainly compared to unremitting gloom of some January events i attended.
4. Yet more confirmation that these days it is all about a direct sourcing model for companies - reducing cost per hire etc. When OME launched 3 years ago - it was all about migration from print to online - it feels a bit quaint saying that sort of stuff in 2009
5. Telegraph is a great place to host the event - the delegates are all massively impressed with how modern a set up they have here and the paper, online, TV, Mobile products all work together.
6. Definite pick up in the amount of delegates doing some Search Engine Marketing activity - it has become part of the established tool set now for companies - however as we always say it is not just about doing it - its about doing it brilliantly!
Monday, 27 April 2009
2. Has provided me with yet another distraction from doing "proper" work. And with Twitter i can pretend its work - sort of.
3. Has made me blog less - despite how it seems on my blog sometimes - writing a decent interesting blog post takes time and effort. A tweet requires neither. I would like to think the quality of blog posts has improved.
4. Has shown me again the difference between business and social networks - i like having lots of connections on Linkedin - i restrict it hugely on Twitter - i use the following rules
who tweets too much
who exclusively uses it to promote business in a dull way
who uses it constantly to say how busy they are
celebrities (occasional temporary exception)
people i don't know in some connected way
It may not be how others use it but it works for me
5. Has made me question again the role of job boards ( i think central to the candidate attraction piece but others disagree) - i am not sure about job aggregation via Twitter but have a strong view but i want to know a lot lot more over coming months.
6. Has driven me to create an approach where clients can get benefit from Twitter while investing little more than time and effort or our time and effort for fee. I like saying to people that we think this is the right way to use it now but this is likely to move so fast and in odd directions that in 3 months time this may all change!
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
As we know Public Sector vacancies have been relatively robust at present and this has consequently meant that their share of the total market has grown from 20%(2007) to 40% (2009).
Now whatever government is in power - vacancies have to collapse as spending is cut in next few years to restore some semblance of sanity to government finances.
Sadly this will impact most hard on local papers as it is one area that has not taken a huge dive for them in last 2 years and online migration has not happened as quickly in other areas.
Lets all hope that the private sector's green shoots turn into full blooming economic recovery to mask the public sector recruitment dive.
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
However - we got called in for some remedial SEM work by a big corporate that had been done by one of the leading players (they would say THE leading player in the industry) and it was an absolute piece of Mickey Mouse work that really stunned me with how it could have been set up that way - tracked in that fashion etc.
The problems this causes are a complete lack of confidence in SEM (and consequently business/social network pilots) and lack of faith in all companies in this sector.
I felt myself coming over all PeterGold and ranting about those who claim to be "experts" when they are no such thing.
Now i know that this SEM company are extremely competent (if expensive) so what happened? probably boring old factors like a bad account manager, too busy, being oversold to customer, too big a spend in first couple of months and then always playing catch up while dealing with an unhappy client relationship. I am sure there may have been some customer issues too but i guess we will find out more over next few months but the key thing is to keep the spend down while those lessons are learned - well that's our approach and we are sticking to it.
Friday, 27 March 2009
The only thing furrowing my brow of late is i have spent a huge amount of time in long meetings recently discussing
1. social/business networks and
2. process improvements
3. what they should/could do right now in both areas.
Now some of that comes out as spend and proj mgmt fees but a lot is just a knowledge transfer that i am sure will reap rewards long term but hey - generally i prefer rewards to come in short and medium term.
We do have consultancy projects (largely for media owners) but possibly we should have a client consultancy arm and price it up accordingly. Are we giving the farm away? should we tease clients a little more? My current view is NO - as i think people buy into our approach and trust and relationships are built up - but its an area i am going to have to keep an eye on.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
I am sure Enhance will blossom given the great foundations they laid and am equally confident that surely both can't be waving goodbye to online recruiting forever or can they...
Thursday, 5 March 2009
- It is so rare to find an acquisition that goes right isn't it? (a round of applause for DMGT's purchase of Jobsite though!). The typical story tends to be large corporate has strategy vacuum but feels the need to do something. Consultants are employed and feel the need to recommend something. Both of these end up with "lets go out and acquire something"
- Now just possibly this acquisition's main purpose is for the page 1-3 story in FT of the announcement that indicates that company is getting all web - e-commerce - international - moving up supply chain (delete as appropriate)
- After Day 1 - the company then have to think "what the hell are we going to do with this"
- In FriendsReunited - it was lets stick a job board on it - and dating - and classifieds. That must have taken about 5 mins to come up with!
- Execution in all areas - pretty appalling - and short term view taken so parts are closed down
- Almost from Day 1 - the site is completely engulfed by better technology - proper Web 2.0 and presumably a complete lack of inspiration to pick up the challenge from ITV
- In all likelihood - all the board who bought it (and consultants who advised buying it) have moved on and it can be safely binned
- They have announced that would be prepared to sell it for £50m - any takers? - no - didn't think so - it would be like buying 34 year old crocked footballer who was once a star player - so ITV better hope Newcastle or West Ham are in the market. I cant imagine what the true value would be - but not a great deal for a product in terminal decline that does not have an established revenue stream.
- I saw this quote in one of the pieces "Last year ITV claimed Friends Reunited had doubled its monthly unique users to 5.5m after switching from subscriptions to an ad-funded model" - 5.5m monthly uniques - really?? - it may be true but does anyone know anyone who has been on this site for the last 3 years?
Monday, 23 February 2009
Overall it is clear now we are in the grip of a severe downturn in which no business - even a dynamic category busting business like ours - is immune. We are currently running spend and profitability figures which are pretty flat (+4% year on year) which in a normal business would be cause for champagne but given our huge growth historically is not quite as exciting. I am not looking at any market stats in this piece but these are the significant changes i have witnessed in last 4 months from my comments then
- Some of our day to day contacts have changed in both client and supplier communities. This is due to 1 reason - redundancy. When a client needs to reduce costs/headcount - they do not need as many recruitment managers - hence these individuals are cut at quite an early stage. Media owners all need to cut their cost base - hence headcount reduction. We are clearly trying to help where we can - keep our eyes open for any opportunities that may help people we became close to over the time of our working relationships.
- The gap between proposal and sign off gets longer - and some proposals sit out there - never being turned down but beginning to yellow at the edges. Caution and postponement become the name of the game - and i understand that perfectly.
- The argument about successful adoption of new techniques to reduce cost per hire etc has been won - however if there is no recruitment occurring - the decision to go online does not necessarily elicit any short term activity
- Some of our retail clients really inspire me by their determination to sell their way through these problems and carry on recruiting and expanding - yes they are more cautious but they see a big opportunity to grab m/s in this period. We try and have by and large been successful at OME in following this mantra.
- I am extremely thankful for the government work we have got involved with in mid last year. It is both great in terms of quality of client and interest of projects and also i know my taxes are not going to be wasted for too much longer long term by huge adverts every week in nationals and locals.
- However, Sean (my co-founder) and I used to have this 100% strike rate of meeting to some degree of spend/activity - for last few months all meetings are more speculative and tentative again understandably and i think our previous urgent almost impatient approach would be the wrong tack for the next few months. I made sure everyone at OME from Jan 2 knew the score and what was expected of them in terms of service and hard work etc but that should never come across as being over aggressive in any of our relationships with suppliers (and clients)
- Every media and agency one talks to - when asked the inevitable question "hows business?" repeat the same answer - "it is tough out there but we are doing OK and out-performing market" - presumably not everyone is telling truth but then would you - if the answer was "absolutely shockingly - at this rate we will all be down the dole office including me"
Finally - i think in October i did not really know anyone who was out of work - i now know of at least 8-10 senior-ish people who are - and none of whom tell me there is much out there at all in terms of exciting opportunities.
Anyway hopefully this was not too glum - as one advantage of being a bit older is i have been through it before and it passes and it can pass quite quickly - and ultimately there will be big big winners from this period of change - just make sure you are in the winners camp!
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
5 Things i Dont Like in My Media Relationships
1. Overfamiliarity. I just don’t feel comfortable with the chit chat until we have discussed some work/potential work and got to know each other a little better. Classic example being asked “how was my weekend?” by people I don’t know at all. As i have 3 young children – the answer is probably very little that will sound good to you when i tell you.
Oh and PS. don’t say Happy New year to me on Jan 31
2. Rudeness – i don’t like it in colleagues, clients or myself. But it always shocks me when a rep is rude to me or one of the team and it happens more than you would think. Now it may be that you are having a bad day or under pressure or we have annoyed you in some way. But i can guarantee you 2 things – 1. It won’t help you get any more ads out of us and 2. Your mum would not like it if she heard you – its just bad manners
3. Dealing with a “chocolate teapot” - no, Jamie – that’s not rude- I mean it in the context of “you are about as much use as a ...” Its absolute fair and reasonable to take timeout in a negotiation or have to discuss very significant things with someone senior. But don’t refer every single little thing to your manager otherwise just put your manager on our account as it cuts out the middleman and speeds everything up.
4. Bad service/Bad selling – there are brilliant sales people and brilliant account managers out there – dealing with agencies mean you have to be reasonable at both. Entry level good service is doing what you say you would do. That is hitting deadlines, checking work, listening to the brief. My key gripe on this is it makes us look shit if you don’t do it... Speaking for OME, good service significantly impacts some of our media decisions. Personally speaking – i also am not a big fan of the “nice” account manager who never sells to us. We like to know about your product enhancements, your expansion etc – and yes – we will mention these things to our clients where relevant.
5. Dealing with an “Olympic Flame” – so called as he/she never goes out. If we have spoken to you for a year – booked some ads – shared an occasional laugh. Then come and see us – we will even buy you a cup of coffee and a bun if you ask nicely.
Now being as I spent most of my career working for a media owner – I could start a list of what bugs people about agencies – but that’s for others to chip in!
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
It makes me feel better when i state things like i think Twitter is a load of old tosh and such like.
Ultimately a sign of how actually important our predictions are - was his response when called on this after Microsoft started putting $$$millions in to the web was "I was wrong, so what..."
Monday, 5 January 2009
I really think the direct sourcing /cost per hire message is getting through and that we are at a tipping point - but macro economic factors can obliterate the tip short/medium term so hang on as its going to be a bumpy ride.