Monday, 23 February 2009

State of the OME Nation - Q1 2009

I wrote this piece back in October about state of the market/economy and OME. And i thought having just had a week off to reflect on things - i should update and revise.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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)

  7. 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

A Gentle Dig at Certain Media Sales People

OK – a bit if a context first – we at OME love our media relationships – and most people we deal with are absolutely great. Let me also be clear i personally don’t mind beng phoned loads, being chased for biz hard or being expected to justify our media planning. I am also aware that i may just be a grumpy old man or worse... But here is my -

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!