Monday, 3 August 2009

Credit where credit's due?

Yesterday manufacturing output was up, order book strength saw its biggest increase in 13 years and the pound gained strength against the Euro. The FTSE surged to a 10 month high. House prices rose for the third consecutive month. This recession, once alleged to be the deepest for 60 years will apparently be over, for the UK at least, within three months.

The reason? According to the Wall Street Journal "the prompt fiscal stimulus package and bank recapitalisation scheme in the UK helped the economy speed ahead in the race towards recovery. This swift decision-making and timely action has been lacking in the Eurozone which will lag significantly behind."

Did we just get a really big, global thing right?

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Negotiation - nature or nurture?

Yesterday my wife completed a tricky, complex negotiation successfully. As a result my seven year old son found himself eating an additional helping of his "five a day" every day for a week, in return for a limited increase in his PS2 (PlayStation to the uninitiated) time. However he turned the tables shortly afterwards in a gloriously intricate manouevre that secured a trip to the Pier at the weekend AND some goalkeeping gloves. The strategy involved a 24 hour charm offensive and some reverse psychology followed by the ultimate close - flowers (bankrolled by dad in a separate but no less impressive negotiation founded in emotional blackmail)and the unprompted tidying of his room.

I shouldnt be surprised. He spends alot of time with his mother. He's learnt from the master.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Leaders and the Led

There is often tension betwen marketing and other disciplines as the battle to decided how an organisation should be "led" is played out. Should the organisation be true to itself or simply follow the latest research-led finding on audience attitudes? The truth is the two are not mutually exclusive. A successful organisations believes in itself, its values and finds compellingly different and special ways to articulate them - to find fulfilment both for itself and its audience. Its not led, it leads.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Marketing Myopia

A company I had hoped to work with contacted me last week to say that their biggest client had gone into administration and that it was " all hands to the pump" at the moment. As a result they couldnt undertake the marketing planning exercise we had talked about. Is my world just so marketing-centric I've lost touch with reality, or should they have been saying "can we bring the marketing planning exercise forward as now more than ever we need the right strategy to deal with our difficult challenges"? I dont understand why people dont understand - when your market is contracting you either need to take business from your competitors to survive at their expense,find new products to sell or markets to sell into, or sell more to existing customers. The success of any of these strategies is dependent upon your ability to get your marketing strategy and tactics right. Or is it just me?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

New Reality

This is a phrase that's cropping up more and more in media commentary and political speeches. Will it replace "Credit Crunch" - let's hope so! The latter has taken on a depressingly popularist life of its own and makes me cringe everytime it rears its ugly syllables in broadcasting, advertising - everywhere (if another restaurant offers me the opportunity to "crunch through the crunch" I will not be responsible for my actions).
So what is the "New Reality"? It seems to depend, as always, what your agenda is. For me its the realisation that we all need to sharpen up our marketing act to surivive let alone thrive, and that there's no room for complacency any longer. Politicians being politicians it means a view of the world that suits their agenda at any given moment.

What's your New Reality?

Monday, 16 February 2009

The power of focus

I was with a client the other day. We've been working together for a few months now and were reviewing what we'd achieved. The business has gone from basket case to odds-on survivor in the last quarter and its clear why. FOCUS. The first thing we did back in November last year was look at where we could gain the quickest profitable return for our efforts whilst simultaneously opening up more opportunities with a short time-to-market. Analysis showed this clearly wasnt in the client's core market, which was tender-obsessed, cash-strapped and high maintainence for little reward. We spotted one opportunity in a market where the client could complete an existing project easily with the right amount of FOCUS, create instant opportunities to cross-sell, benefit from first mover advantage and replicate development work already completed to roll out on a reasonable scale. He piled all his limited resources in this direction and now has a delighted client-turned advocate lining up new opportunities for him. He's turning down opportunities to tender in his traditional sector.

Isnt it great when a plan comes together?

Friday, 6 February 2009

The media revolving door

I've been driving around alot today and I'm awestruck by the media narcissism of our radio output. All day I've had to listen to news, comment, phone -ins, text ins and email-ins about the shinanag-ins of assorted media commentators. Clarkson, Thatcher, Ross, Brand - spokespeople from Stonewall (and not a gay insult in sight - uh?), versus oiks from satirical web channels - not to mention the listening masses picking apart the minutae of the golliwog/scottish idiot subtext, and how it represents a window into the depravity of our broadcasting culture,etc etc.
Please. We're in recession, hurtling towards depression. Get a life and a grip on the real news agenda, before its too late for all of us...

Oh God (with no offence meant to anyone of a non-christian persuasion) - I've just blogged about the media. Its all over....

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The rise of the Crunch Collectives

More and more people are starting up their own businesses. For some its because they've been laid off, others are just fulfilling an ambition to be their own boss. But the rise of the independent practitioner in the marketing and creative industry has given rise to a phenomenon so suited to the times it could change the face of the sector and signal the demise of the mid-size full service agency.
Crunch Collectives are loosely associated groups of professionals with complementary skills. They come together in whichever combination is required to meet the client brief; their overheads are low and dispersed, so the client is only paying the costs associated with the specific project and not, for example, funding the fixed costs of an agency team irrelevant to his or her current requirements. Designers, PRs, Strategists, SEOs, Event Production Specialists, Photographers - they are all collaborating and combining to provide a perfect skills match for a client's project with a great value proposition and the ability to switch their service off and on as required.
Full service agencies - beware the Crunch Collectives.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

A time for David....

I read today that a small local company has just won its largest contract in 37 years. A Lancashire-based workwear minnow Simon Jersey has taken on the might of the Corporate Catwalk to land the Emirates airline contract to design and manufacturer all their new in-cabin clothing. On my local high street no sooner was the Monolithic Woolworths sign torn down but B&M Bargains, an established but comparatively diminutive retailer, moved in and opened within days. Yesterday it was packed. It seems recession is no time for Goliaths. So rise up all you Davids and rush headlong into fray,slingshot in hand, picking fights with the big boys. There's never been a better time ......

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Its inauguration day and the USA is in a state of euphoria, the glow of which is even permeating the recessional permafrost of Europe and the rest of the world. One observation, two questions (neither of which I know the answer to): Observation - how precarious and unpredictable can financial markets be when the dollar draws more strength at the sight of Obama being sworn in, than when the US Govt pumped a gazillion dollars into its toxic financial markets (or do the speculators know something we dont?). Question 1 - could someone like Obama every rise so quickly and spectacularly through the BRITISH political system without being someone notable's son, daughter, pal from Eton etc? Question 2 - how long will the US public give him when they realise he cant wave a magic wand, make a "Berliner" style speech and reverse the meteoric rise in home repossessions and job losses single-handedly?

Answers on a postcard.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Shop local?

I've never subscribed to the view that you should select suppliers on the basis that they're local and you therefore support the local economy and keep local citizens in work etc etc. Dont get me wrong, I love to see the town centre flourishing and my kinsfolk happy and prosperous - the problem is, I also want the best job done for my money and sometimes that cant be done by companies on my doorstep. Better we all strive to win business because we're the best at what we do than winning it because we're part of the local charity effort. Dont get me wrong, I'm happy to play the "and I'm just round the corner so you get the best possible service" card whenever I can, because in some instances proximity may be a powerful selection criteria and a big advantage to the client. Put "I should have your business out of loyalty to your town or region"? No thanks. If the central platform of your sales pitch is an attempt to appeal to some premeval tribal instinct rather than a passionate presentation of why your outstanding value, you deserve to lose out.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

To participate, or not?

A networking evening and the dreaded 30 seconds to talk about your business and why people should send business your way. "My name's Julie and I refuse to participate in a recession" announced a delegate, as if she had stumbled into a branch meeting of Credit Crunchers Anonymous. A laudable attitude I thought, a robust rejection of the negativity surrounding these dire economic times. But hang on, will she be saying that when she fights for the remaining scraps of Woolworths stock at 90% off, or when her mortgage company reluctantly reduces her monthly payments in line with the interest rate plunge? Surely we all participate - its a question of how. As Paul McGee said "within every adversity lurks a seed of equal or greater opportunity".

Happy New Year

New Year, New Start... New PR Agency?