Everything is gathering momentum, and I’m finding making new business calls is becoming easier - although some are hilarious. One recently involved a marketing manager who insisted she would never use a certain title, despite the fact I was holding a copy of an ad she had booked in said publication in my grubby little paws. This one might be a bit of a slow burn.
One of the most difficult things at the moment is working out which leads are going to convert into regular clients, and which are just budget-setting. I’m quite sure I’m asking the right questions, but some leads show early promise and then disappear after I’ve done a lot of work. Although this can be a little frustrating, in my experience it’s important never to write anything off.
On a different note, I also find out that the chap who owns my favourite local coffee shop, Reynolds, is ex-MediaCom. This could be a useful ‘consultant’ while picking up my orange mocha frappuccino.
End of my third week and I’m making MarketPlace’s first bookings with Open Outdoor, who I did business with while I was at AdConnection. Fung Peacock and Marc Gutreich are always excellent to work with, and the campaign is booked without a hitch. I decide I owe the guys at Open some doughnuts, so I head over with the Krispy Kremes.
I’m also on the cusp of booking some press activity, and the wondrous PPA rears its head. Obviously, I’ve got to be careful what I say here, but I’m not really sure what the point of the organisation is. The PPA recommends that an agency should get a percentage commission based on its financial health and bookings, which seems fair enough, but surely this is what credit insurers such as Euler Hermes are for? Perhaps I’m missing something though. My note on the business plan is to hit the targets to get affiliated with the PPA within 18 months - now all I need to do is find £200k to spend on press.
Blogging’s an odd thing isn’t it? Not long ago, budding media commentators had to rely on toilet walls or letters to the Sunday Times to publish their opinions. The quality of people’s output can be guessed quite accurately by the amount of effort they have to put in to get their thoughts published. Hence toilet wall material is lowbrow compared to the Sunday Times.
The reason I write this is that I’m finding maintaining a blog on my website pretty tricky. I almost feel pressured to keep one, even though there is already plenty of very good content out there already. I’m wondering whether my blog actually adds anything or whether I’m adding to the clutter on the web, shouting in a room full of other people shouting.
Up early today to catch the train to Portsmouth with Tom Langshaw and Richard Chilvers of ITV for a spot of sailing on The Solent. I have never really been involved with ‘helming’ before as it sounds rather unpleasant, but it basically means steering, which is fine.
At one point I thought I’d killed the lot of us as I turned the wheel and the ruddy thing lurched so severely we were almost all tipped in. All was fine in the end, although I can see where the phrase "swearing like a sailor" comes from.
One of the advantages of having a close working relationship with a creative agency [Feast shares office space with his business partners at a TV creative and production company] is pitching media and creative to clients simultaneously. Understanding the consumer together and sharing insight allows you to see the campaign as a whole from an early stage and come up with some great media ideas.
Our current project is targeting young adults, and working together means the presentation really comes to life because I’m not just pitching the spaces where the clients’ ads will appear, but the actual creative concept as well. Let’s be honest, clients always come alive when the creative concepts come into play.
I’d really recommend this approach actually - all too often, creative and media are pitched separately and the inevitable battle for ownership of the client begins. The creative agency tries to justify its retainer fee and the media agency battles to keep some sort of strategic foothold. Genuinely working together and having joint ownership of all ideas is refreshing and makes me wonder why full-service agencies have all but disappeared
Two pitches today, which means one of my business partners and I are driving to Harrogate and then on to Bolton. I read recently about Starcom’s training academy for its staff in Marrakech, so I decide to take this idea on board and stay overnight in Bolton.
Both pitches go very well – I’m particularly pleased with pitching the creative and media strategies together. The collaborative planning process means there’s a common strategy running throughout, from which every level of communication is developed. Now we just have to await feedback from the client.
I’ve worked with Steve Ramsay at Radio Experts for a while now, and have always found the company to be very good so I’ve gone ahead and continued working with them at MarketPlace. Today I place MarketPlace’s first radio campaign across a range of stations in the South East and South West, after just four weeks of trading. I’m a big fan of local radio.
Later this evening, I’m treated to a preview screening of The Social Network, which is excellent. The event is hosted by Chris Lauder of ShortList magazine and Peter Staines of Sony Pictures, who are both looking rather dapper.
Using regional media to achieve a decent weight in a smaller area, rather than a light national smattering is, in my view, a good way to get a client going. The issue is that clients sometimes say they don’t want to limit their reach, and that people across the UK will want to buy their product. I’m currently working on a good way to illustrate this to clients.
Having watched the new series of The Apprentice I’m now in a quandary. The show seems to imply that in order to be any good at business you’ve got to be an arrogant self-publicist, with few - if any - attributes to justify your overinflated ego. Alan Sugar’s circus-style rudeness is also totally ridiculous. There’s a difference between being a shrewd businessman and a rude show-off.
Channel 4 puts on a good show for its 2011 schedule launch in Covent Garden. I’ve never been particularly good at celeb-spotting, but even I can see the party is packed full of TV personalities. I notice a lot of people are chatting with the talent but I can’t bring myself to follow suit, so I opt for hugging the bar with Simon White and Tim Hedon of Rapp.
As I’m writing up my reports for the end of the week, everything is looking good. I’ve started making bookings and working on longer-term projects, and I’m getting really good feedback on the work I’ve done. I know it’s early to start thinking about hiring, but if things keep going at this rate, I’m going to need to start looking for staff within three to six months, which is seriously exciting.
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk