Friday, 21 December 2012

What I learnt in 2012 - Part 2

1. There is brilliant work going on out there...but it's not the sort of work that gets recognised by awards. To
transform your recruitment to a direct sourcing model saving millions
get technology to support your activities in a seamless user friendly way,
up the quality of the people you attract with the same budget

So I will take this opportunity raise my hat to what i shall call STUFF THAT WORKS.

2. a lesson we learnt very, very, very slowly was that concentrate on what you do well as a biz and outsource the rest (which is pretty much what we advise our clients). Finance, technical and some IT have gone into hands of excellent suppliers and the business strips leaner, fitter and more profitable because of it. and Sean (OME co-founder has regained his sanity and enjoyment of life)

3. OME is not a business that needs to obsess about things are clients will maybe use in 2 years (Pinterest, Instagram or similar) we are a business that cuts through the crap and advises on what can be effective for clients over next 12 months. we must NOT disappear up our own backsides with what people CAN do - its what they SHOULD do.

and finally

4. my expenses from last 6 months will not get done again this month....January maybe?????

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

What I Learnt in 2012 - Part 1

OK - no end of year predictions (2013 - year of the mobile anyone....) but these are things i learnt this year...

1. OnlineMediaExperts is a very old, clunky name for our business - its OME now. Now if i did not fear that i may disappear up my own backside - we would probably re-brand ourselves to much better cover the full service nature of our business but i fear that most (all?) clients don't care - they just want great service from people they trust. (but the new website is on its way in Q1!)

2. Good things do come from adversity. In 2011 - we lost our first major client, It caused us (after i sulked) to re-assess what we did, concentrate more on structured biz dev and maybe...maybe...just maybe try a tiny bit harder. This has meant a great year for client acquisition and existing client growth which was made even better when the old client asked if they could come back in May.

3. There is a lag between stuff that we talk about and stuff clients want to invest in. We have known it since day 1 - but we will talk about PPC, SEO, social, mobile for ages before it becomes a profit centre for this business and an effective ROI channel for our customers. PPC became properly profitable for us in about 2009-10 and this year social became a non loss-making part of our business (i still hesitate to call it profitable given man hours that go in at this end).
And this "lag" will always be the case i think.

4. This industry is and will be for foreseeable constantly in flux and that's why we love it. It must have been so dull when attraction channels were so fixed for 20 years. We all know that job boards are under pressure from aggregators, LinkedIn etc (see previous post for why i think they will be fine), we all know that FB in some way shape or form will grow stronger as a recruitment channel, we all know that mobile comms are vital for recruiters to engage with users. But, and i think this is brilliant, none of us can say with any real certainty what it will look like in 2014 let alone beyond. We can have our expert opinions but you know what they say about opinions

Part 2 to follow next week

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Times They Are A Changin'

Been reading some really interesting posts such as Reconverse and others on social vs job boards and launch of Facebook job board (clue its not really a job board)etc and it seems as ever in this industry we are at another big turning point..

Let's declare our credentials first - OME are about (or one of) the biggest buyers of digital recruitment media in UK so i think though we will always be ahead of most of the industry - our stats will be a good indicator as to what's going on "out there".

1. We have been advising/consulting on LinkedIn strategy for 4-5 years but we used to spend a negligible (i am talking under £10K) amount of our clients' cash with them. In 2012 - LinkedIn became our biggest single supplier. Why? well firstly they charge (or charge more) for everything now and secondly it works as a recruitment tool and is increasingly important as a branding / engagement / platform / communication (delete as appropriate).

2. At same time - our spend with the major job board media has grown but this is more about our client acquisition i think than any increased demand from the recruiters. The growth here is less than social, less than PPC as would seem logical given job boards are a pretty mature market now.

3. This spend is under pressure - due to the economy being "delicate" - if we are doing more PPC or want to pilot some small activity in mobile - it has to come from existing budgets.

4. Facebook PPC almost scares me - it is so cheap and has worked really well - largely with our retail and catering/hospitality clients.

So all the chatter - all the cool conversations are about everything else other than boards/postings/CV DBs/HTML emails - does this mean a meltdown or the same thing happening as happened to press. I will reiterate my view which is absolutely not - why?

Press was destroyed as it was so inefficient - it took the recruiter and candidate days/weeks to run an ad and apply respectively. A great job posting (well written, attractively displayed) on the right board (relevant, right audience, good search functionality) works brilliantly. And the candidate can search and apply in 30 seconds from desk, bus, sofa. So there is not a problem that needs to be fixed.

So i think these channels will co-exist (but not happily in terms of commercial pressure and client spend)

* i have been wrong as many times as right - so its just an opinion rather than a prediction!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Happy Thoughts

OK - so here goes and with the stuff below this - i could easily be making a fool of myself. But ultimately - i think just possibly - just maybe - that things economically are getting better. 

I have two thought patterns as to why this could be the case

1. Stuff We Know

  •  House prices up
  •  Unemployment down
  •  Euro crisis possibly worst could be over
  •  Tad more confidence out there
  •  New Client and Campaign requests significantly up at OME towers

2. Stuff I Feel
  • It just seems more positive out there - can i define that? nope
  • We have bumped along at this level for ages - markets always bounce back - don't they?
  • Recruitment is an early indicator - and again there are bumps and nods that the beast is beginning to re-awaken
  • I just want the above to be true - so wishful thinking maybe playing a part
So buy stocks, sell long, buy a house, start a business, take that new job, buy sterling and do whatever you do with derivatives, swaps, hedging and leveraging things.

* for those followers of my financial advice (currently a group consisting of zero members) it is important to note that investments can go down as well as up and that in fact overall on balance they are much more likely to go down.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Confused of N1

Have been visited by the great and good from the digital media industry over last few weeks and all are preaching similar concerns - to summarise
1. Most ad agencies' media spend is falling
2. Most ad agencies say it will continue to be of less importance to them
3. Many clients are going direct
4. Will their spend be eroded/replaced by social/direct recruiting etc

To be fair this tallies with the rare conversations i have with peers/competitors in industry (always noticeable still in 2012 how reliant some are on print billings for any healthy margins)

The "Confused" bit comes from that this conflicts hugely with our experience at OME -

1. Media billings going up ie more direct recruiting
2. LinkedIn spend replaces spend on rec agencies not necessarily media
3. They want a holistic approach to outward employer/recruiter messaging/process/engagement. Negotiating media deals is not the hard bit - its having an metric led approach that ensures you continue to deliver efficient results while simultaneously being innovative and managing the whole process (using the right MI).
4. So desire (not need but desire) for the right supplier has never been as high or as useful i think

So what to think

1. we are wrong (possible)
2. the old industry is so fragmented that no rules apply across the board. You have big trad agencies desperate to reinvent themselves (RPO/Marcomms/Strategy), small players wo have found a niche and doing fine and many in the middle.
3. I dont think we fit any of those categories anymore - so will concentrate on delivering a product to market that people want to buy.
4. Critical we stay on top of what is happening out there but not so far ahead as to be offering non practical advice for clients in next 12 months.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Events and Awards

Now i have tendency to be cynical about attending too many events and award ceremonies but i do have to say how pleased i am that Mike Roberts is organising the 2nd Social Media Grad Conference and Awards

It took brave organisations last year to stick their head above the parapet and let peers, competitors, cynics view their work in social media but as we all know - there is now some brilliant work (with tangible results) going on now in this sector and i think the event will go from strength now.

Now we need to see if Mike will invite me back as a judge this year.....

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Tectonic Plates Are Shifting

We love digital media, in fact we love most media but.....
most of the schedules we put together now are not classic postings on jobsites, emails etc.
they are properly integrated with press, radio and (for us) the big element of SOCIAL. I am going to try and share our billings splits between the various parts of our business and i think, as a biz that was so concentrated around classic digital rec media, i think it will make interesting reading.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Content over Style

I have had a week of presentations and feel a little bored by the sound of my own voice and the relentless self promotion unsubtly disguised in presenting research, trends and case studies (and yes i am aware of the irony that i am writing a broadcast blog post bemoaning that i have been talking too much about OME).

Last month - i overhauled the content and how we present and sexed it up a bit - i felt happier with what we had created, all good yes?.....

Nope - all the consequent feedback though quite positive is that people want the info displayed in a clear structured way (that they can quote, re-use....copy and paste) and also not to go too bleeding edge with examples and advice.

Organisations want to know what they can do practically and what they can get done in no longer than the medium term (define - medium term?? i think it is a time period that covers when the decision maker is likely to still be in the job)

So this week - it was back to clear directional advice (not you could do this or you could do that or that etc), how to kick it off, resources required and how to avoid it all going wrong.

Feedback much much better

Lesson of the Week
Don't get too clever and forget its about what your clients want not what you want to give them

Now all i need is for someone to remind me of this, say maybe every hour.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Mind the Gap

so this is the longest gap between blogs since i started - which is remiss of me- so here is what has been happening
- i went on holiday
- i did jury service (turned down big murder trial due to lasting 6 weeks, sat on jury for an hour, sat around and then went home just about covers the 2 weeks)
- both of these events caused grumblings from my fellow OME'ers as we are very very busy
- i have written and delivered 2012 version of trends in recruitment marketing and digital stuff (i think it needs a better title)
- new clients include AndrewDKelly (exec search), St Helena Government (remote island in South Atlantic), Social Workline (new appraoch to social care recruitment)
- new staff member Penny Howson has come on board
- we held our 4th Hospital Club event (networking group spawned out of LinkedIn)

and that is about it

Monday, 14 May 2012

S o t U Part 2

6. Due to expansion, we just hired a new account manager (Penny Howson) who starts next week. The idea is to train her up on the nuts and bolts of what we do. And then gently introduce her into the more straightforward accounts. We invest quite a lot of effort into getting our induction processes right as i think it is so critical the core standards and service levels of the company are shown, coached, learnt from day 1.

7. As i have mentioned before on this blog - bizarrely the biggest growth line is press advertising. This is driven by our move to full service but also by the statistical quirk that this revenue comes from an extremely low base.

8. I seem to have become increasingly a part time account director - as i am doing a lot of speaking at seminars, running projects/training on site for clients. I do enjoy this but an unnamed client did say to me that they thought i was "above" getting involved into their day to day stuff. I did not feel good about this. But i have to be sensible and OME's sell has changed - we dont offer hands on involvement of the founders to all clients and its kidding ourselves to pretend otherwise.

9. The investment - future proofing of the business is occurring predominatly in following areas

social (of course) - i still hear other orgs talking about what you "could" do. We can show people our clients work and results (the good and even the disappointing). The margins on most of this work is miniscule but we feel way ahead of the game.

mobile - i am bored of hearing myself talk about this - but everyone needs to know that this is what will be transforming (has transformed) the user journey. What this means exactly in terms of opportunity/threats for recruitment businesses - i dont think any of us are sure. But dont wait for others to get competitive advantage.

Most importantly - i am going on holiday next week - as i feel completely knackered!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

State of the (OME) Union - Part 1

So this is a purely inward looking post in what has been a great 2012 so far but, of course, as ever there are a few bumps on the road. So what is happening at OME....

1. Business is very strong. Combo of new clients, a major returning client and increase in our product portfolio mean that the revenue line has continued upwards (+30%) in what we thought would be a challenging year. New clients include Tesco Plc, Jamie Oliver Group, Odgers/Berwick Partners, Telegraph Media Group, IHS,,

2. Margins are pretty constant. We make no bones about the fact that we charge fees for the work we do, rather than hiding them in media buying or similar. As we have taken on some larger accounts this margin we expect to tick down a bit this year due to volume discount but its the figure we most closely watch i think.

3. However - our overall profitability will not increase a lot this year. sean and i made the call to invest in the business (we are naturally very mean). So all finance/bookkeeping has been outsourced, new staff, new IT equipment, office re-furb. Now we know these are growing pains and this is a grown up decision to help us expand further over next 2 years but spending money still stings a bit.

4. Office vibe. Its changed, its not what it was. I hope people still enjoy themselves and can still piss about when appropriate but most days i sit here - its all tapping away on keyboards, a million phone calls, out on client calls etc, rather than "who do you hate most in industry and why?" - "if you had to lose a limb, would you rather have 1 leg or 1 arm?".

5. Blimey - just realised on basis of post above we need to go out and have some fun. Will come back later

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Totaljobs bought by Stepstone

Here is my very quick reaction to the news here that Stepstone have paid £110m for Totaljobs group (i presume that means Totaljobs plus Caterer, CWjobs etc)

So here goes - firstly, I am not surprised

1. RBI have stated for some time that they don't really want these advertising led, cyclical products in their portfolio. They want to sell information, licenses, research, subscriptions.
2. Stepstone (Axel Springer Classified) do not have a UK job board product (well, not since its first incarnation went pop in about 2002)- so its a nice fit with Germany, Benelux, Scandinavia etc)

As for the price

Time will tell whether its a good or bad deal - i would have to guestimate about their turnover and profit and some of that info i am privy to has been off the record so won't speculate about multiples. Jobsite was bought by DMGT for £54m in 2004/5 (great deal) - Hotrecruit by Trinity Mirror for £55m a year later (absolute shocker other than if you were the people selling it). So that would tell you that you were probably paying a much more inflated dot com premium back then as TJ's figures are much more robust in 2012 than those orgs 7 or 8 years ago.

What will it mean?

There will obviously be changes over time but i dont see much short/medium term happening. They have bought a product and mgmt team in a country where they have no presence or similar competitive business. So no rationalisation needs to occur right now. Clearly the international offering (TheNetwork) will be strengthened and i am sure some cost alignment may be considered but as we all know the bulk of recruitment advertising is very much a local/national approach so very limited as to what they can do internationally on costs. I guess maybe we will see more investment and innovation with a new big player in UK market as it has been a seemingly mature sector devoid of launches in recent years.

And my final comment is - i am still not seeing many people queueing up to buy all those B2B magazines based in Sutton - now that would be a tough sell....

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Flawed Concept of CPC Media Planning

I am aware my comments below are a big over-simplification but here goes - We are a metric led business or to be more accurate - we advise our clients based on a set of metrics that we hold or have access to on their behalf. However - this very puritanical form of measurement and evaluation of campaign success or media performance cannot and should not exist in isolation. I was debating with Kork earlier who works with a product agency on one of our accounts who wants to select media for next campaign based on pure CPC basis (or to be fair a CPA) basis as they would do a consumer campaign. All sounds good.... The big signifcant difference between candidate attraction campaigns and selling product campaigns is that the ideal response to a single job ad (or any number of jobs) is 1 (or 1 per job). That 1 being the ideal candidate. All further response has a cost (a sift, a phone interview etc) however minimal that would be. For purpose of this i will ignore building talent pool/database etc. The ideal response for a product/service sales campaign is as many as possible. Somehow qualitative data or insight has to be introduced and planning decisions weighted accordingly In summary - metrics, CPC/CPA are critical measures but in isolation can lead you down a very misleading road.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Why I Love Media in 2012

i was enjoying a twitter exchange last week with @mattbigg and @mattallder about launching a highly dubious pinterestjobsearch product/running a webinar etc and charging a kerjillion ££ for a barely credible product and it reminded what i adore about what we do (not the silly stuff above) and the market we now operate in - so these are my reasons why working in recruitment marcomms is so much better now than (please insert date 2008/2005/2000/1995 etc). 1. Recruitment media used to represent such goddamn awful value for clients and huge profits for newspapers, rec cons and ad agencies. 12 x 5 in Times for £15K, 26% agency commission. B2B magazines ( i know as i used to be publisher of one) running 100 pages a week at £7.5K a page. Now all media is much more realistic (including print) about pricing. 2. Recruitment media was deathly dull and working in an agency had as much in common to a sausage factory as a creative/strategic biz. job spec in - copy and setting - book 12 x 3 in Essex Chronicle. Next...and repeat ad infinitum. Sadly some businesses still operate in this way. 3. We don't know all the answers. we have (dare i say it) expert opinion, we have evidence, we have stats/MI but things are moving so fast that maybe this nonsense new product (insert flavour of month) is the way forward. Maybe TJ's link up with Branchout will be amazing? maybe Monster's Beknown is a game changer? Will LinkedIn take over the recruitment world? just how clever is Targeted Facebook PPC going to get? and i have not even mentioned Google yet... 4. Clients are doing it for themselves. We have RPO and rec agency clients but the trend to direct sourcing is a really positive move. The quality agencies will thrive and body shops will/have reinvented themselves. So what we now do for our clients extends to employer brand, engagement, recruitment process (prob what we understand better than anyone), attraction, retention etc as all of this is the bedrock to a great recruitment and retention strategy. 5. Innovation. So much you can do, our advice is always to do one new thing and do it brilliantly rather than lots in half arsed fashion. But it is really easy now to pick a growth media and exploit/gain competitive advantage. And you know what - you don't even need an external supplier like us for soem stuff - just do it, measure it, enhance and repeat. And finally - a selfish one - the market is incredibly complicated so what many (well....enough) companies want is a supplier/partner/sounding board/consultant/procurer - who can cut through the maze and make the whole piece work. And that's where.....i think you know what i am about to say here.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

whisper it quietly

but we dont make any money from most of our social media work. Its a difficult one for us as we have two conflicting forces at work Force 1 - a drive for efficiency - we want to reduce cost per hire, we want to improve quality, we want to build/improve employer brand. All can be summarised as value for money - delivered with brilliant customer service. (a bit salesy i know but it's the truth) Force 2 - a passionate belief in social - a knowledge backed up by case studies that it can work - and an "expert" view that it will form the central tenet of most attraction and engagement work in the future. The problem as of 2011 and maybe Q1 2012 - social is not efficient as defined by Force 1. So it leads to us not charging enough for the time we put in to help build social programmes for clients. So are we being idiots as we should charge for our work? or are we being canny in that we know what the future looks like and we have build up a really good body of work (and learnt along with our clients and why should they pay for our education) which means the profit will come later. Answer - have not got a clue as usual

Friday, 13 January 2012

We won't be pitching in 2012

Got chatting with some people last night #SoME2012 (grad awards) and heard some horror stories of money spent by agencies on pitches and the work which goes in without any payment or guarantee of return.
So i have decided that we wont pitch for ANY business in 2012. Here are my rules and reasoning in more detail.
1. Long lists of pitch suppliers is surely a sign that the client does not really know what they want and i dont want to pay for someone else's journey of discovery.
2. The creative beauty parade. Accounts being won by through the showing oodles of creative work is misguided at best. Creative is key but is an output of strategy and that comes from working closely with a client not in a restricted environment (which a pitch process has to be)
3. We (by "we" i mean "me") are tight. I love the fact that we are still (5 years in) extremely careful about how we spend our or our clients' money. And so the thought of spending time and money with no fixed return goes against what we are about.
4. I like the sound of it. It makes us sound like a quality company and a business with a bit of cachet if we are able to say - i am sorry but we don't do creative pitches/tenders of this nature.

Let me be clear - we will continue to offer people
1. A (mostly free) digital audit of their rec comms
2. Proposals as to how we can help them
3. We will come and meet you anywhere/anytime and discuss openly without any strings your needs and suggest solutions
4. Seminars and training to educate (be educated) and discuss what is going on in industry

But we just wont go down a long winded, long list - chemistry meet - short list - presentation - final 2 - visit to offices - special videos, party hats and fancy dress etc etc. *1

*1 this policy is subject to constant change dependent on business needs and if you ask us really nicely. But i am probably
categorically going to stick to this in 2012