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Posts Tagged ‘Advertising’

I know that you know what that means. It is EXACTLY how I feel today. WTF. As in WTF am I doing? Those of us who are brave enough to start our own businesses feel this on a regular basis. That sinking feeling like you haven’t done enough, reached out enough, applied yourself enough. What exactly is ENOUGH?

Enough currently for me is an account or two that help “keep bologna on the table” as an old boss of mine once said. I am not blowing the doors off anything, nor am I giving Doner or JWT a run for their money, but that is okay…its by design. So, why then, do I hit these spots of insecurity? I am trying to build a life OUTSIDE of my previous profession. As one who (in my mind) was so closely defined by that role, its hard to shake.

It manifests itself in unhealthy ways. Today I snarked at a friend who posted something online about small agencies. Its the second time in a couple weeks she has done that and left me out of the discussion. I replied with a ummm.ok…then she replied with a tag and said, “better”? I felt childish, because my response WAS childish. Either way, it was only my ego getting in the way. And, as a media professional, that was completely natural. 😉

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With the news last week that P & G (Proctor and Gamble) was looking at its media buying and subsequent agency spending, it reminds me of the shifting sands that people in advertising work upon.

This statement can send a chain reaction down the hierarchy of any business quicker than high speed internet…in fact – it is most likely through the emails and digital files that most people will get this information. Spreadsheets are flying, you can bet on it.  Makes me shudder just to think of the poor sap at the end of that chain, the person who is performing the media buy as instructed by the layers upon layers of middle management.  That hard worker bee will most likely be the first one to go if the account drops its spending or leaves altogether.

The exact wording from Ad Age was: “The move to review comes as the packaged-goods giant aims to cut $500 million in agency fees and reduce the number of agencies it works with, according to comments from P&G Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller on the company’s recent earnings call. Though P&G doesn’t disclose its total spending on agency fees, executives close to the company have estimated them at around $1 billion.”

I worked closely with some people who bought and sold ads for P & G…they are not extravagant media spenders, truly they were downright penny pinchers.  Looking at that revenue they are cutting just shows me the bottom line margin is shrinking and they – like most big business – are looking at ways to keep the top echelon earning their ridiculous bonuses while afore mentioned media buyer makes 35K and is lucky to leave work at 1pm on Fridays during the summer.  Just for the record, Bloomberg reports that Jon Moeller (the guys looking for the cuts) made $7,017,862 in total compensation. Of this total $850,000 was received as a salary, $897,600 was received as a bonus, $1,295,683 was received in stock options, $3,908,749 was awarded as stock and $65,830 came from other types of compensation.  7 MILLION dollars…really? That’s not a salary, that is the GNP for some small country, and he is only the CFO.

This revenue is shrinking because of the internet, the same exact way poor media buyer found out it was REVIEW time and cancel your summer vacation because Jon Moelller is ready to lose his bonus. Broadcast and other mediums are gasping for air trying to compete with free content and relatively low costs on social media.  The moral of the story here is that nothing, but nothing is worth any more that someone is willing to pay for it…and with all of the ridiculous TV programming and sensationalistic radio (yes, Rush – I am talking to YOU), this is why things like the net neutrality (internet equality) are important.  Internet CONTENT and drop down ads are just the tip of the iceberg…think back to dial up…THAT is how slow your favorite small site will take to load if they draw lanes in the digital highway.  Before the media can figure out a way to gouge you for surfing, pay attention.  Your vacation depends on it.

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I think in the business world, we become driven to succeed – or perform, always risking being trampled.  We have come of age in the world of many options, much information, and the innate desire to make a difference.  It starts out with the idea of being good at something, then – in my world, the competitive nature kicks in and you plunge forward. Over the last couple years of my business life, I have cycled through those feelings more than once.or twice…

When 2015 rolled around, I vowed (once again) to apply my skills and be the best version of myself I could be at the time. I know what I do like the back of my hand, but I felt the desire to create something new and different. I wanted to start a non profit. No small undertaking, and in paperwork alone can be a daunting task. If you are anything like me, I can make myself take the eye off the ball very easily by distracting myself with other “jobs”. I have continuously pulled my mind back to the focus – much like my meditation focus – back to the breath. As a result, there was a strong possibility I would lose a couple clients I currently work with and enjoy helping.  It was a risk, but I trusted if I just put one foot in front of the other and not lose focus, it would all work out.  THIS is a very unnatural state for me, and I had to work hard to maintain it.  I did not force, cajole, argue, debate, negotiate – I just let it unfold.  I was rewarded with renewals, and for that I am grateful.

All of this is great – for today, I just keep moving forward and TRUST that I am on the right path.trust word in letterpress type

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“I can juggle but I can’t spin plates”, This is a saying I use OFTEN…particularly with clients in mind.  Most of my recent posts have been on expectations, something that is extraordinarily difficult to manage when it comes to clients.  This point is even harder in the environment in which we are working and living, more and more people want more than they can afford.

Recently I had a large project that required many different components, something that would require a whole team of people.  In discussions with this group, that fact was brought up on several different occasions in order to clarify and manage expectations.  With the client being reluctant to negotiate a higher fee, it became even more paramount that we discuss a couple of the components that would take a back seat to some that were a higher priority, like location (?!), people involved, itinerary and a whole list of “to do’s”.  Everyone was on board, nodding their heads and moving forward with our partnership.  This was particularly important because the person who brought me in was a friend in a pinch, someone I did not want to let down, so ignoring my red flags, I proceeded to sign and move forward.

The project came and went with a few minor snags which were not within my scope – ex. pertinent information withheld by one individual who was a part of the board, and a very low level of participation by the very board that hired me to do the job.  Unfortunately that became the benchmark for the event, ignoring the success of the project in the top three areas of discussion.  While my main client was happy with the results, in the wrap up meeting some of these low priority projects were focused on as an area where I had “failed”.  While I had hit the mark on so many other facets, this one fact was the one that was highlighted in the meeting.  I never like to leave a project that I left everything on the field for, but the moral of the story in this situation is an unfortunate reality: I should have never agreed to the project, because I can juggle but I can’t spin plates”.Spinning-Plates

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A couple weeks ago I was lamenting the fact that I did not feel like I fit into any particular category within the current business environment.  This morning, while having a lengthy conversation with a friend/peer it occurred to me that I was not that far off base.

You see, I was thinking along the critical and self berating terms, when in reality I should have been kinder to myself as it relates to my skills.  Without sounding too pompous, I am good at what I do, I have great knowledge about my industry and I should just shut off the ass kicking machine and get on with it.  I decided 10 years ago to push forward and create my own place in the world because of the uncomfortable and skewed world of inter-market hiring practices.  Especially in my market where people seldom leave, and the same group of people just keep rotating the atmosphere while newer “stars” come up underneath and join the constellation that is Detroit Media.

Of course I am going to feel left out of a world that only hires to make an impact and buzz in the market, not what is best for the company.  Having been in the market for over 15 years – I am damaged goods.  No longer the “glamor hire” that will get tongues wagging.  Case in point: this friend I was talking to has enormous amounts of media smarts, she is good with clients, knows how to sell media and is well liked among her peers.  So, did she get the job?  No.  This company hired a young man with limited media experience who had “good contacts”….translation: a green media person who was recommended by a buyer, or who they could give a limited list to and have him harvest the rest.  Most likely someone coming from a smaller station, another medium, or worse a friend of a friend.  Did I mention my friend is in her early 50’s?  Hmmmmm.

Now, all that being said, it is easy to judge, easy to complain about the inequality of hiring practices, the bitterness felt when you get overlooked because of your age.  What I find most interesting is that all of these people doing the hiring are in that same age group.  I wonder how they would have responded if they were the ones in the interview chair.  Well, this I know for sure: within the next 5 years they will get their chance.  That’s how we roll.

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Can you feel it?  That rumble coming up from the ground?  It is the sound of creativity making its way into the hearts of people in the Motor City.  I am especially happy to living in Detroit right now because of it.

Sure, Detroit has haters…a LOT of them.  For some reason it is important to use Detroit as the benchmark for all that is wrong with the U.S.A.  We were too married to industry causing lack of public transportation, we had diversity until the riots of the 60′s sent a lot of people to the suburbs.  We are not what the media would have you believe however.

Detroit is quickly becoming the nerve central for all things creative.  Creative technology, creative thinking, creative funding, creative living.  We are sick and tired of you feeling like you haveIMGP0113 something on us.  I lived in Chicago for awhile.  When I moved back I felt like had to sell this city back to the people who lived here, they were believing the hype.  No longer.

For the record; Chicago has a 10.25 sales tax, think Kwame and Coleman were corrupt?  They actually auctioned off city jobs under Daly.   No offense to the Detroit Bad ass gangs – but Chicago gangs make ours look like West Side Story.

At the front end of all is this is artists.  Detroit and the state of Michigan over indexes the rest of the country in creative jobs.  Look, you will see it — Artists buying homes in Hamtramck, Artists living in New Center.  People like Dan Gilbert and others investing in a city that has all the same markings as any world class city and then some.  We have a riverfront, we have history, we have talent and we are running with it.  Do yourself a favor and look to Motown for your creative needs, we are ready for our close up.

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In the advertising and marketing business we constantly try to keep up with the trends and interests of the population so we can best serve our clients.  These days, its a little bit like catching mercury on a desk..just when you think you have it…it slips away.  It is especially difficult to catch the female viewer/listener/reader/follower.  I think women’s interests and triggers are as varied as their lipstick options, or as the flowers they plant, or jobs they juggle.  It seems as though, like women, we need to be all things to all women.

The ads we see on television are still focused on either the “average mom” in khakis with a mop in her hand, or the harried career woman trying to have it all.  There is no happy medium, which in my opinion, is what women are starting to achieve.  We see more women taking time to network – with EACH OTHER..or new “fluffy” social websites, like Pinterest.  No disrespect to Pinterest, but it is clearly a women’s social network.  Try as they might, you will catch the occasional male interest attempt amongst all the great recipes or patterns for pillows, but the dominate theme is women.  And that is okay, I don’t know about you, but I feel a little bit of a shift.  A shift not to a subservient role for women, but a mutual respect and partnership between women and men.

Now, I realize there are a LOT of exceptions, women still rank lower on the pay scale overall, but we are making progress.  It is important that we continue to remember that it is progress not perfection.  Today’s woman doesn’t kid herself into thinking she can have it all, she just wants what is good for her, and if it applies, her family.  She is willing to pay the extra money for a good hair product, if it what it says it is.  She is more discerning and pays closer attention to how you position your brand.  Don’t kid yourself by underestimating the female consumer.  She still makes the decisions for a household, sometimes with, sometimes without her partner.  She isn’t willing to compromise her integrity for the sake of brand loyalty, she wants to believe that the products she buys are as loyal to her as she is to them.

In the world of advertising and marketing it is always paramount to know your client, and in this day and age, you have to keep up with the changing landscape to find them.  Once you have them, don’t take for granted they will stick around by treating them like a number.  One great example of that is the CitiBank Women – they send out occasional (read closely – not obnoxiously regular) emails with great tips about finances.  Their newsletters are timely, thoughtful and succinct.  No three page dissertations, they understand how much time we have, how much time we are willing to devote to a newsletter, ( approx 15 secs – or ten words) and capture the reader with a bold topic, brief strategy and then sign off.  Follow their lead and the lead of other companies that successfully market to women.  By knowing them and their interests, their hopes, and their lifestyle you will not bore them, patronize them or lose them.

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