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Lessons Learned by an Intern

My summer here at Kilgannon as an intern has given me quite an education.  I’ve learned a lot about the advertising world, the way a business functions, communication, and what I want to do with my life.  Many of these lessons came quickly, like when my boss tried to convince me that a ‘wrap’ party involved togas (this was a lesson in e-mail sarcasm), others took time.  So, just in case you were dying to know what I found out this summer, here is a quick summary.

1- There needs to be a focus

Everything you do should have a point, and it should get there fast.

2- Keep good company

For a team to work well together the people in it need to be comfortable with each other.  Make an effort to get to know your coworkers, and meetings will be less awkward.

3- Plan for the future

Time moves fast.  Be forward thinking and plan for the changes you see coming.

4- Listen to people

Be attentive and be focused.  If you aren’t, you will miss something important.

5- Ask Questions

If you don’t know, ask!  It’s better to admit ignorance before the fact, than to apologize for it after.

6- Sugar vs. Vinegar

Sugar wins, duh.  Being nice makes everyone’s day easier – including yours.

7- Like what you do

This is the most important; if you hate your job, you won’t ever be good at it.  It would be wasteful to spend 40+ hours a week on something that makes you want to cry.

So there it is, what I learned this summer.  It is certainly not complete yet, but these are the lessons I will take with me when I start real life after I graduate next spring.  So thanks, Kilgannon, for teaching me the ropes; it really was a lot of fun.

— Lee Anne Murphy, Intern

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Keeping Score

New York battled Chicago Sunday afternoon in a game for the ages.  There was an overflow of raving fans in the stadium and a worldwide television audience.  They played many hard-hitting minutes into overtime.

Kansas tipped against Kentucky in last week’s finals in front of students, alumni and fans from around the country.  Both teams played a great game to the final buzzer.

Jimmy and Timmy lined up at the start line on a playground packed with kids.  Both sprinted the distance all the way through the finish line and were met with a cacophony of cheers.

So, what’s missing from the New York/Chicago game?  How about the Kansas/Kentucky tilt?  And Jimmy and Timmy’s run against one another to schoolyard fame?

Who won and what was the score?!?  How much further would you read any of the above without those details, as well as supporting information?  What were the teams even playing?

The same is the case for marketing (or any other business, for that matter).  Why spend the time and money if you’re not going to evaluate the work by keeping score?  A scorecard should be an integral part of each and every campaign or project, and CMOs around the world are now making these analytics a priority.

After all, without details of the outcome, how do you know who won?

— Gary Sayers, V.P. Account Director

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B2B: “Boring 2 Brash”

What is B2B advertising notorious for?  Print advertising and trade shows.  Lots of information, uncreative messaging, unimaginative layouts, and rational appeals.  Just plain boring, boring, boring.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s everything that consumer-facing advertising is not.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Case in point:

Manheim is the world’s largest provider of vehicle remarketing services.  They have set the standard for establishing a reliable environment for buyi ng and selling vehicles at auctions and online.  Their primary target: car dealers.  Like other companies, Manheim has traditionally reached car dealers via trade shows and trade pubs.

Guess what?  Times have changed.  Customers in the digital age expect dynamic and engaging communications, whether that target is a college student, a soccer mom, or a car dealer.  Not surprisingly, eMarketer predicts a very strong resurgence in online media.  Manheim is on top of this trend and has begun to shift the way they deliver their message.

Kilgannon developed a campaign for Manheim built around a brand video and interactive Web site.

The Web site provides dealers the opportunity to engage the brand: see and hear individual buyer and seller videos, download white papers, access other valuable resources, view instructional videos, check out upcoming events, vote in a dealer survey, and, of course, access Manheim’s online transactional tools.  Short versions of the videos will also run in news pre-roll and online flash banners across a variety of Web sites, including www.autonews.com, www.automotivedigest.com, www.autoremarketing.com.  Additional promotional elements, such as e-blasts, in-lane auction elements, and print, extend the presence and also drive dealers to the Web site.

But the new world of B2B marketing doesn’t stop there.  It must also be accountable.  Kilgannon will measure the effectiveness of the campaign via a Scorecard focused on a wide range of perceptual and engagement metrics, from readership studies and customized brand research to site traffic and video views.

If you’re still thinking that B2B is boring, be brash and think again.

— Gary Sayers, VP, Account Director

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It’s the Idea, Stupid.

For the first 70 years of the twentieth century, agencies were paid based on how much media they bought for clients. This imploded after the growth of television drove the cost of media (and consequently the amount they paid agencies) through the roof. So for the next 30 years, agencies got paid based on how many hours of service they gave their clients. This imploded after client-side consultants and procurement folks practically drove agencies out of business by process-engineering the costs down to nothing.

Problem with all this is that it has nothing to do with the core offering of an agency. What is that – Media? Not anymore. Services? Not really. Most clients hire agencies because they want help persuading prospective customers to buy more of their stuff. That generally requires a bright idea that gets effectively communicated to those prospective customers. So, do clients pay agencies based on how bright the idea is? Or how effectively it reaches the customer? Or if it helps sell more stuff? Nope.

A media transaction is a market-determined price, so it’s easy to value. An hour of time is easily measured by a clock. But, how is the brightness of an idea measured, or the effectiveness of communication? These are really fuzzy, non-touchable things to measure. In the land of lawyers they’re called “intellectual property,” and payments for them are generally determined through royalties and licenses.

Underlying the license and royalty are the basic concepts of “Use” and “Value.” If intellectual property has value, it probably is going to be used a bunch. For example, Microsoft Office creates a lot of value to a personal computer. I am using it now to write and post this blog. Our enterprise decided to use it a bunch by loading a version on every computer in the agency.  Even though the disc it came on only cost a few cents, we paid a couple hundred bucks for each license on each computer. The program had value; we used it a bunch. We paid Microsoft accordingly. Our procurement people don’t pay Microsoft based on how many hours their programmers spent developing it, or on how many bytes of media the program occupied on the disc. A similar use and value license is employed in the music, publishing, or art world. Back here in advertising, though, we are a little slow on the uptake.

Despite the difficulty of measurement, agencies and clients need to move to a compensation model tied to “value and use.” It more closely links to what we do and what clients want from us. Most every idea gets embodied into some kind of material (an ad, a banner, content, SWAG, etc.). Most of these materials get used (tv, radio, internet, events). Generally speaking, the better the idea the more it gets used.

The payment system should deliver money to the agency based on the idea’s use and the value it creates, even if the client is still using the material and the Agency is not providing services. Why? Because the idea is still producing value to that client and they are using it. In a Darwinian Adam Smith-type system, this would ultimately lead to good ideas and the agencies that produce them flourishing, while bad ideas and their agencies go the way of the Edsel. Isn’t that the most efficient market mechanism?

At our agency, we have spent a long decade trying to transform our compensation systems to ones based on use and value. In the long run, it’s the only win-win for us and our clients. It involves us identifying ideas, tracking their use, and putting skin in the game based on whether they produce value or not for our clients. Last year 25 percent of our revenue came from intellectual property payments. The AAAA’s met in California last week to discuss “transforming” our industry. Perhaps the only thing that needs to be transformed is how we get paid. It’s the idea, Stupid.

— Mike Reineck, Principal

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Ad Agency Sleepers

Unless you’ve been living in a cave this Millennium, you’ve heard of fantasy football. While you may not play it, appreciate it, or understand all the rules, you know it exists. An FX television show, The League, has even been created to mock this season-long event that has become a part of popculture.

There are a variety of fantasy football leagues, but the premise is simple: pick NFL football players at various positions to make up your fantasy team. Your chosen players’ performance in real life is how your fantasy team performs. If your fantasy team scores more than your opponent’s fantasy team, you win. Boiling it down, the team with the most wins, wins the league.

Most everyone who plays fantasy football knows who to draft. They are the superstars. You know who I’m talking about: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, etc. However, the fantasy teams that win may have a superstar, but many also have a “sleeper” or two. A sleeper is a lesser-known NFL player a participant correctly predicts to have a breakout season. The whole point of selecting a sleeper is to give owners a competitive edge with lesser-known players and a better return on investment. Sleepers are a good buy and are the difference makers in any fantasy league.

So, how do fantasy football sleepers relate to advertising, and why should you care? Well, sleepers can be found among advertising agencies, as well. You likely have a basic knowledge of the well-known agencies. You know who they are and their characteristics. They are entrenched in traditional media. They are group owned. They take a long time to get things done, and they bill at really expensive rates. And, you generally get what you pay for, which is good work.  Return on investment: even…at best.

The sleeper agency is the antithesis of the traditional agency mentioned above. It is an agency that may excel in one particular area that fits your category and business model exactly, as opposed to being something for everyone. It is an agency you may not have heard of, but you’ve found by taking your time to research and learn what each agency does well. It may be an agency like Kilgannon that establishes specific objectives and metrics, with a scorecard evaluation, for each campaign or project. Or, it could be an agency that specializes specifically on promotions and driving product trial. By taking the time to learn more about each agency’s strengths, you’ll be in a much better position. Return on investment: the sky’s the limit.

So next time you’ve got a project, challenge yourself. You don’t need to be selecting a new AOR. Do a little research, try out an agency on a project basis, and see if you can discover a sleeper agency to get the competitive edge and return on investment that you need in today’s dog-eat-dog world.

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