Monday, 18 November 2013

Job Board Land - stuff happening

So the world of job boards as been quiet for the last year or so - but some interesting things have happened in last few weeks - they are

1. Stepstone (Totaljobs in UK) have bought SAON Group - which means that the major domestic products they now own are Myjobgroup and

2. Jobsite are centralising most of their verticals such as justengineers, inretail, incatering under/into the jobsite brand

3. Totaljobs Group closing SalesTarget

4. Totaljobs, Jobsite and Monster all seem to taking stock of their marketing and pushing more targeted messages rather than the blunderbus of TV advertising

So what does it mean -

I think its a really clear indication of a very mature market

- there is concentration of ownership to maximise profit
- there is concentration of focus on core profitable products rather than verticals that probably turn a profi but not a significant one for multinational media businesses
- concentration of marketing onto more measurable targeted forms rather than just brand, brand, brand and given the user's inability to distinguish between them - an eminently sensible move.

and finally it seems that Stepstone are massively committed to being the dominant global player (or challenging Monster for that position) and the Totaljobs acquisition was the start of something not the end game.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Anatomy of a new biz pitch gone wrong

Thought I would share an experience that did not go so well recently ( other than me - I wont share the names of those involved). Genuinely you do learn more from the things that don't go right than you do when all goes swimmingly and you think you are the Zen master of business. So.......

we did a competitive new biz meeting recently and were unsuccessful - here's why

1. Commitment - we umm'ed and aaah'ed about whether to do it at all as it was a bit speculative (we did not know the people but had been recommended) and we are very busy. But we did it but if I am being honest not in a fully engaged and enthused way. And you know what - you end up doing all the work required but feel very grumpy about it as you do and that maybe shows. So lesson 1 is - If you going to do something - throw yourself in - aim to dazzle - do it brilliantly - otherwise don't do it and wait for project that you do love.

2. Chemistry - (as in lack of) we messed this up a bit (possibly due to the above). Too many people were involved in it - it was a bit of decision by committee on our strategy and approach. Pitches are a dictatorial process - one person owns it - builds some form of relationship - directs the resources and delivers their vision.

3. We forgot the sizzle, it was all steak - We really knew what they needed and how to help them - but a lot of this stuff was really dry to present and as we all know these things are beauty contests - and you have to stand out with cool stuff that will never see the light of day probably, and most people want to have their heads turned rather than a clinical analysis of metrics and improving CPA rates

4. It was a long hour for everyone. If I am being honest, we were dead in the water 5 minutes in (I can assure you we flapped about for another 50 minutes like a fish on the shore) - a bolder person would have packed up their stuff and said our goodbyes much earlier.

as ever - there is much black comedy around these types of things - and the mournful lift journey down from the meeting - where we soundlessly looked at each other, shook our heads and slowly exhaled was almost worth the bad experience.


Monday, 30 September 2013

"so you save us loads of money on our media - do you do anything else?"

this is a direct quote to me from one of our clients last week - and yes it is a compliment, we had saved them an absolute fortune having recently taken on the account but behind my grateful smile - I was simultaneously thinking we do soooooo much more than the original model of being the best digital media planning/buying/optimising/campaign mgmt business in the universe. And in a thinly veiled act of self promotion - I have listed a few things below that we had live/made happen in September

- designed/produced Flashmob in Sheffield for viral video for major retailer

- Content strategy for social media programme for tech client

- Bought, designed and launched 3 separate LinkedIn Careers Channels

- new Pan European PPC campaign including 2nd tier territories such as Rumania, Bulgaria, Serbia

- Created 2 different apps for games for on campus for graduate recruitment season

- Comparative piece of research into Employee Benefits in retail sector

- Salary benchmarking research for Aberdeen/Inverness

- Website launches included new product to hit the franchising market and a mobile site

- Press adverts in Sunday Times, Economist, FT (which still feels a bit weird)

and more stuff too if I thought long enough. But just to be clear we did plan and buy a shedload of digital media at best market rates for our clients.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

LinkedIn UK Revenue

Warning - this post is a pretty dry analysis and estimate(posh word for guess) of what revenue LinkedIn are generating from UK businesses for candidate attraction/sourcing (inc career channels etc)

OK - so most recent public trading statement is here =- from this I reckon the following (my comments in bold)

Second Quarter Financial Details and Operating Summary
• Talent Solutions: Revenue from Talent Solutions products totalled $205.1 million, an increase of 69% compared to the second quarter of 2012. Talent Solutions revenue represented 56% of total revenue in the second quarter of 2013, compared to 53% in the second quarter of 2012.

This is OME's world (ie companies buying licences and recruitment products)

• Marketing Solutions: Revenue from Marketing Solutions products totaled $85.6 million, an increase of 36% compared to the second quarter of 2012. Marketing Solutions revenue represented 24% of total revenue in the second quarter of 2013, compared to 28% in the second quarter of 2012.

Selling the senior audience to advertisers (airlines/tech vendors/financial products) like any other media

• Premium Subscriptions: Revenue from Premium Subscriptions products totaled $73.0 million, an increase of 68% compared to the second quarter of 2012. Premium Subscriptions represented 20% of total revenue in the second quarter of 2013, compared to 19% in the second quarter of 2012.

Cash from the individual I guess some staffing agencies and some orgs - make the user buy this on own credit card (and claim back) but lets ignore

Revenue from the U.S. totalled $224.3 million, and represented 62% of total revenue in the second quarter of 2013. Revenue from international markets totaled $139.4 million, and represented 38% of total revenue in the second quarter of 2013.
Revenue from the field sales channel totalled $209.2 million, and represented 58% of total revenue in the second quarter of 2013. Revenue from the online, direct sales channel totaled $154.4 million, and represented 42% of total revenue in the second quarter of 2013.

So, now my bit
Assumption- that they make same proportion of revenue from talent solutions outside USA as they do in USA

- Therefore - LI made $78million in Q2 from talent solutions in rest of world ($312m over year)
- This figure is increasing as total LI revenue is increasing and the % of revenue from talent solutions is increasing
- UK market is biggest market outside US – how much is UK?
- My estimate is - as follows - UK represents 8.6% of LinkedIn users (outside North America)– I reckon that translates as UK represents 17.2% of revenue – variable here is I am unsure about Canada (and where that revenue sits) as Canada must be a decent revenue (not sure if figs included in US)

So - what does that mean

- $12m from talent solutions last quarter ($50m this year)

My top of head calculation LI would have been a bit higher than this - but one thing we all know is the numbers only going one way.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Instead of writing this proposal staring at me from my desk - I will talk about my random irritations in world of digital, recruitment and media

1. getting an email or tweet - upset that I have stopped following somebody on Twitter. The beauty of social media is that we are free to follow, connect, friend who we do or don't wish to. a "don't leave me" tweet is a tad needy I think (I am clearly largely talking about professional or acquaintance networks rather than our actual real life friends)

2. Everyone slagging off supposed "social media gurus" - what I see when attending events or talking to knowledgeable people is - in the main - people offering best advice (admittedly some of it is common sense). Very few in our circles offer untold riches by following their advice but they do offer a path to more progressive, innovative candidate attraction and engagement strategy. And the candidates/employees seem to like it too!

3. Still occasional "Invitations to Tender" passing our desks, Send a big proposal and get on a long list of 10-12 and more work and get on shortlist of 5, repeat and get on a shorter list of 2 and....hope you win. Just think of all that UNPAID work that goes into winning or (even more importantly) losing business. The world of recruitment marketing has generally moved on its about projects, a small list of trusted suppliers (refreshed of course over time)and is all the better for it.

4. Negativity - still loads of it out there. My opinion is the economy is getting better but if it isn't then there is sod all I can do about - so lets carry on doing the best job we can. and let the big stuff happen.

5. and finally my own power of predictions. I used to do a review/preview of the year when I started this blog and I would not have believed that in 2013 - we would still extolling virtues of great content/copy, PPC as an innovation, make it easy for someone to apply (user journey) - but I can assure you we all are talking about these things. Ultimately I think that these elements are constants not developments and we will always have to review and improve them.

So moans out of system - OME are doing great, British sport is best ever and the family is fine (did I get the order of priority right there)

Thursday, 27 June 2013

I have been out talking to people.......

a lot

I felt That I had not spoken at any events or attended any industry functions or conducted a training programme in a while and so spurred on by Kork (who tends to look at OME Biz Dev with me)- I put myself up for some stuff.

I thought 1 or 2 things might be nice but agreed to do everything (as you do) and so I am about as over exposed in the world of digital recruitment as Claire Balding on our TVs. The off the cuff little jokes and asides are stale and tired are beginning to lose their charm.

But, but, but getting out to talk to recruiters, clients, partners has been incredibly stimulating and motivational and has also caused me to rethink my views on many services and products (I long since gave up on my predictive powers in this messy, brilliant, exciting digital media landscape.)

So here's a few of the things I found interesting and seem to be broadly agreed upon(for disclosure - clearly some of these points I evangelise about but some come from the floor not me)

1. Twitter and Facebook are great. But they are engagement tools not about attraction so use accordingly. This is a sweeping generalisation and ignores Facebook PPC but largely holds true.

2. Facebook and Twitter cost - but largely in terms of allocation of (usually scarce) resource not ££. There is only so much you should be outsourcing to businesses like us. If its real, human, credible etc - there is a limit to what you should let a supplier/partner do for you.
I reserve the right to wholly disagree on this point if you pay us enough to do it for you.

3. There is a new consensus about innovation. We all want to do progressive innovative recruitment marketing BUT it needs to work. So people love Pinterest, we can drop Snapchat and Vine into conversations to look cool but none of us have a big enough budget to have some left over for fun stuff like this in 2013. maybe next year......

4. Quality of content and copy is still dreadful. Forget everything else and take more care over what you put out there and better results will follow. And this is not just banging the drum for SEO - it is about relevant, concise, compelling messages.

5. I don't like QR codes but some people love them - for purpose of clarity - they are wrong and I am right.

6. Whisper it quietly - but the backlash against LinkedIn is definitely building. LinkedIn are our biggest supplier now and I love the ROI that using it well can deliver for clients but there is not the sense of goodwill that existed when they were the new category busting platform. They have become the new Establishment that people sometimes want to throw rocks at.

7. Optimism is rife (ish). Its cautious and underplayed but we have enough evidence now that the private sector is on the move (a bit)

There are a few other things - but maybe for another day. Probably after the last presentation/seminar/training session in July!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

End of Year 7

So we just finished OME's 7th year in business and I think it is fair to summarise that it has been a good year but essentially a year of investment in staff/infrastructure that we want (hope....) will repay in profit over next couple of years.

Rather than bore with detail - here is top line

Revenues Up
Margin Up
% margin Down
bigger clients but less % margin

Costs significantly up
so gross profit pretty flat

So the Sumners retirement plan looks some distance off still but onwards and upwards!!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

OME Update

So whats new.....
1. Excellent first quarter in terms of billings (+22% year on year). I sometimes wonder what it would be like to run a recruitment focussed business in a healthy economy - be great wouldn't it! We all accepted some time ago that this is now the norm and you can succeed perfectly well in a triple dip blah blah but you probably have to try even harder.

2. New clients include Cisco, Cap Gemini, Ricoh and Giraffe. Tech has become our second biggest sector after retail. I wish i could tell people there was a strategy but it sort of grows organically (in a good way i think). Still if any very large financial institution wants someone to sort out their candidate attraction, engagement and associated issues, our doors are open.

3. Expanded team and have recruited Heather Brand-Williamson to further bolster account management structure. At same time promoted Stephen Oliver to Head of Account Management - his job is to make sure as we have grown that we maintain and improve our service standards. Without getting too precious - this is the thing that stresses me more than any other thing - how to maintain the energy, attitude and enhusiasm that we had as a new biz when we are 7 years old and £6m+ turnover business. Answer has to be good people and treat them right (so we have half of that covered.....)

4. New office - and refurb of all our kit. This is incredibly exciting and important for the OME staff (currently located in a bunker somewhere in N1) but very dull for anyone else - so no other comment.

5. And only 5 months and counting till the first (and may well be the last) OME wedding - Kork and Bethan tie the knot in September. I need to buy a hat....

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sexism in life/business and recruitment advertising

Going a bit off piste today but prompted by a great supplier and friend of the business not getting a job she quite clearly merited. Also this comes from a perspective as a father of 3 girls (and 1 boy) who i want to have dazzling careers as prime minister, rock star and curer of cancer (that's just the eldest one).

Here are the subtle reasons why business/career progression is sexist and in this diatribe i will ignore sexist twats or organisations (these will always exist so just avoid if at all possible) - 

1. Women actually have the babies - I told you it was subtle. In my mildly successful corporate career, i bumped along with a couple of promotions and reached Deputy/Assistant to Head of Regional Sales (or similar middle mgmt plateau) I worked in a business that was pretty much 50/50 women and men. and my competition for progression  and bosses were a lot of bright talented women. Guess what - my competition/bosses started disappearing to have babies, spending a year out, coming back part time. Suddenly within a year i got 2 step ups and my dream job (a bad dream i soon learnt). So when you are around 30ish in media - an averagely talented man can progress at a faster rate than a super talented mother.

Solution to this....i have no idea. I do know that life for a career oriented woman who wants to be a great parent is infinitely more conflicted and imperfect than for most dads.

2. Attitude to hands on Dads and hands on Mums. I have the great fortune to run my own business and this gives me a certain freedom so i have always picked up my eldest from school at least 1 day a week, and try to attend as many guitar concerts/nativity/cheerleading shows etc as possible. (ooh... aren't i great!). So i have left plenty of meetings early and stated i have to pick up my girls. The reaction to that tends to be overwhelmingly positive and unstated thoughts that its good to see a father being so hands on, how very modern (yes much of this may be just in my head). But my female friends tell me when they have to do similar exits, blow outs of meetings due to child sickness etc that there is a similar unstated thought process from bosses/clients. That thought process is "she does not take her career seriously enough" "she is not disappearing off again, is she..." "can't have someone who is not 100% committed for the big job".

Solution to this....i have no idea. Maybe another 1000 years of evolution

3. Seeing into the future. Probably the biggest handicap is the interviewer or boss or organisation looking ahead and anticipating all the factors above and not even giving people the chance. Now we know that is immoral/illegal but you can bet your arse it happens. Looking at 30 year newly married woman and thinking "well this is bound to happen..." instead "i will give the job to the 30 year old bloke who reminds me a bit of me"

Solution - another 1000 years

So - all problems - no solutions...reminds me of the meeting i had last week.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Service, Platforms and Enemies

Updates Updates

- Spring is in the air or is it "Winter is Coming". Without wishing to rehash various twitter debates i have had recently, i take the view that things are moving and getter better economically. A business like ours is not a bad bellwether for business - we deal with huge corps across multi sectors (Tesco, Cisco, Pizza Express, Anglian Home Improvements, Odgers/Berwick Partners etc) and they all are more active (with us anyway). So business will be booming from here....probably.....maybe.

- Expanding head count and recruiting someone for account manager. Its quite tough as at this level i know what good feels like but i dont what good looks like on a CV. The good news is the team have now removed me from process (but it's still my decision, right?)

- I headed this blog up service and platforms. As my view is that OME used to be a digital rec ad agency now we are a recruitment ad agency and that work can be social, mobile, telepathy or whatever's next. It will always be about understanding the market, media, clients and industry and how to practically apply to maximum effect. And then retain a fantastic service ethic. So if i were being a bit of an arse i would say we were platform neutral, media neutral and client centric (i feel a bit sick). More plain speaking way of saying this is that we guide our clients through the complex fast changing world of candidate attraction and engagement (no, still feel a bit sick)

- By popular demand - we re-introduced the OME Enemies book this year. Within its pages lurk our sworn enemies who we will exact blood curdling vengeance on. As i leaf through it - it appears to have only 4 names in it - the major crimes being rudeness on phone, and never coming back on time (maybe the vengeance should not be quite so blood curdling)

And finally 4 weeks to go - to get OME site live by end of Q1........

its not going to happen is it.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Woo hoo....OME getting a new website

like the cobbler's children's shoes - an ad agency website can be a poor version of the work done for clients and though our site did a perfectly serviceable job for last 2/3 years - it definitely needs destroying a refresh.

So thought i would take this opportunity to outline my thoughts as we are just in the first stages of developing it. My main issue is the following

What is the point of the brochure type website (which this is)? It can only be for potential new customers or bored suppliers/partners. Traffic figures are really low compared to social media - I will quote personal figures below but i can assure you that the truth applies across the board.
I posted something on here in December, i tweeted it, it was shared etc. This resulted in 200 visits that day. This is more than the corporate site that month.
Our LinkedIn networking group has over 200 members and is pretty darn social (for LinkedIn) and meets up every quarter. This works harder and more effectively for us than any site out there.

So what role does a corporate site serve?

Q. What do i visit these types of sites for?
A. to get the phone number or maybe read a bio.

So already we have part of our brief sorted - make contact details easy to get. And give some personal info out that won't maybe sit on LinkedIn/Twitter etc.

Testimonials - like endorsements on LinkedIn these are not really taken seriously are they? At same time - i think it is of interest the companies who you do work for. So lets think about how we can attractively present this info.

What it must contain.
It has to reflect OME's approach. Concise, no bullshit advice, guiding clients through digital minefield but not pushing the latest fad. As well as the ubiquitous - great service, motivated happy staff etc. So another challenge - how to get this across without boring the ass off everyone.

So this is going to be quite difficult - but the only limits we have imposed are
1. Max 6 pages
2. Call to actions aplenty
3. Provide links to social media presence
3. Minimal text
4. Clever use of video (testimonials/case studies here?)
5. OME personality/history/ambition to come across in above.

Piece of cake - yes?