Tag Archives: change

Time for a change?

It’s the end of the year, and the economy hasn’t rebounded to where consumers feel like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Forecasts for 2010 call for more of the same, at least in the first six months or so. Some feel it will take years to shake off the dust of this recession.

So what does a marketer do heading into 2010? Budgets are tight. Accountability, ROI, and metrics are the buzzwords that matter.

In 2009, only two media categories showed gains: internet display ads, up 7 percent, and freestanding inserts (FSIs), up 3.9 percent. I understand both being up, since they’re measurable in terms of returns. The internet also gives an advertiser the ability to change copy frequently to find out what’s working. However, last I looked, the click-through rate for internet display ads was hovering just under 0.1%. That’s one click (and only a click) for every 1,000 ads served (it doesn’t even take into account what the clicker does when he/she gets to the site). And can someone, anyone, tell me the last banner ad they remember? I hate to say it, but the internet is the SAFE way to advertise. And I never expected to say that.

Change is in the offing. But what does that change entail? It entails thinking differently and altering behavior. It entails a different mindset. If your results are flat, and I’ve heard that flat is the new up, then you probably need to change. Contrary to popular belief, flat is NOT up. Flat means you’re in the same spot. And the real metric that counts is sales. Engagement is fine as long as you can generate a sale from it. When was the last time you heard a salesperson say, “My engagements were up last month, but my sales were flat”?

There’s a saying that drastic times call for drastic measures. While some may feel that drastic change is necessary, I think that small, significant changes can have very dynamic effects on a marketer’s approach. Maybe it’s a shift from one medium to another or into a medium you’ve not used before. It may be a shift in how you schedule activity, or it might be a more tactical shift to supporting only very select trade shows or conferences.

In any event it’s a change in how you approach things. There’s a lot of opportunity out there. But we need to change focus if we are to truly see those opportunities. One of the effects of this recession has been a paralysis of sorts on a marketer’s ability to be bold. And these times call for bold action. The time for the “safe” approach is past. Safe gets you “flat.”

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1000 channels and we’re all on.

Recently, you may have seen a colorful chart comparing Advertising in the 1980s to Advertising in 2009. You may have had someone e-mail it to you, or linked from an Adweek article, or maybe it popped up on your TweetDeckTM from someone you follow. You may have even seen it if you poke around on Michael Lebowitz’s blog. He’s the founder of Big Spaceship, a digital shop in New York. He got it from another blogger in England. That’s the way these things spread.

I’m a big fan of Big Spaceship. I’m a movie buff, and they’ve been building very complex, very deep, integrated microsites for movies for years now. Just take a look at its microsite for the upcoming 2012, and you’ll see they’re not messing around. Now, Michael’s got a stake in making sure you know there’s a lot of “new media” out there, and he and his boys and girls in the lab are on top of it. In the vernacular of the current political atmosphere, I’m just trying to make sure we’re being transparent. And in that spirit, I’ll say that clearly one of this blog’s objectives is to say the same thing about Kilgannon.

At the end of the day, every day, there is “new media,” whether it’s color television, or tweets pushed to our phones and then bluetoothed to our sunglasses. As Dr. McLeod’s video series teaches us, there’s exponential growth out there. It’s as if someone has come along and added letters to the alphabet. The old letters aren’t going away (the oldest one even has a cool new name: “buzz marketing”), we’re just getting some new ones to play with. Here at Kilgannon, we try to incorporate our Low Flying BrandsSM model into a variety of channels, from old-school outdoor boards to social media solutions. As marketers, our language is expanding, but communicating is still our business. We need to stay fluent in the ways of old, and embrace the new, and use all the letters. We’ll need to if we hope to not only be a part of the conversation, but point it in the direction we want it to go.

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Change You Can Believe In

My grandparents used to tell me stories about what things were like back in the “olden days.”  You know… the simpler time before the television, microwave, cell phone, computer, and video game ruined everything.  Days when families sat together at the dinner table every night, and kids had to walk to school, uphill in both directions, with no shoes, in the middle of a snowstorm.

Their stories made me laugh, but as a child, I never gave much thought to how different their lives must have been before the technological advances of the past 50+ years.

With my 40th birthday less than a month away, I began thinking about how much different my life inside an advertising agency is today versus when I started in this industry.  It has only been 18 years, yet it is somewhat shocking to me how much the art and science of advertising has evolved in this short time.

On my first day as an Assistant Media Planner at Ogilvy & Mather, I was asked whether I wanted a typewriter or a computer in my cubicle.  This wasn’t 1970.  It was 1991.  Not that long ago!  I selected the computer, which came programmed with a word processing program, a spreadsheet program and a program to create flowcharts and input media buys.  That’s it.  No e-mail.  No PowerPoint.  No internet.  The fax machine (with rolled paper), regular mail and inter-office envelopes were staples of the job… and our only methods of communication.

I was responsible for generating media plans for some of the largest Fortune 50 brands in the U.S., and although I had some great tools to work with, it is remarkable how unsophisticated they were.  We had access to Nielsen, Arbitron, SRDS and MRI (not the nice Web version we have now – a version that required you to search for long and complicated codes in giant 3-ring binders!).  I’ll never forget having to calculate reach and frequency by hand!  For 1991, this was adequate, as the media options weren’t all that sophisticated.  Everything was about reaching mass audiences and screaming louder than your competition.  Cable television was still a bit “out there,” and niche magazines hadn’t taken off yet.

We have come a long way since then.  Not only have the tools of the job evolved (just look at what the internet and social media have done to the recent advertising landscape), but the job itself has changed.  It is now all about one-to-one communication, building relationships with your consumers, and outwitting your competition.  And everything has gotten much more strategic and measurable.  Gone are the days of throwing millions of advertising dollars out in the marketplace and hoping they reach the right folks and increase sales.  Clients now hold themselves and their agencies to a much tougher standard – every dollar and every message is scrutinized, and must be able to be tracked back to a positive return.

I was always amazed at how my grandparents adapted to change throughout their lifetime, and I never thought I’d see an era with as much change as theirs.  I’m starting to think I was wrong!

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Is Your Media Buyer a Closet Search Analyst?

Times are indeed tough. Even those of us who have been around long enough to weather a few recessions haven’t quite seen an environment quite like this one. Client dollars are shrinking, which means fewer employees are needed to handle the load. The economy has caused many companies, like ours, to close the door to new talent. Not because we don’t welcome fresh ideas and a little more help, but because, like so many other companies, we simply can’t risk hiring during uncertain times.

Despite having fewer employees on payroll these days, we don’t want to do “business as usual.” It’s not in our DNA. And, our clients, like yours, expect more. So, where do we go from here?

You have to dig deep. When we looked inside our company, we discovered untapped assets, including a search analyst working as a media buyer and a social media expert writing copy. In your organization you may find your next online manager answering calls in sales or your next data analyst fixing your laptop.

Talk to your employees. Know their backgrounds. Study their strengths. Learn their passions. And, don’t forget younger talent. Chances are good that your intern probably knows more about social media than your director of account management. Tap talent wherever you can. Don’t count anyone out!

Today’s environment requires that you develop a startup mentality again. Ask people to redefine their roles. In our case, we found real talent under our roof. We’re also finding employees who truly welcome the challenge and the opportunity.

Great companies don’t plan to just “get through the next year,” rather, they always plan for growth. And, like ours, maybe your company can also do it without spending additional dollars. Go ahead. See what talents and assets lie beneath the surface of your company.

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