Tag Archives | strategy

Good Advice

The thing about really good advice is that you never really know how good it was until a while after. If you knew it was good advice at the time you probably knew the answer but were fudging the decision. It’s when you are in the moment, on a track hurtling in some direction when you just think you need someone to reinforce your position.

My old boss gave me a couple of great ones when I left the comfort of the payroll 6 years ago.

1. To be really great you have to make tough decisions when things are going really well

2. Make sure you pay yourself properly

Both fairly intergalactic in their own right. The first we could talk about for along time and something I really believe in, but its the second that I often come back to. For any new business its key that you get to a position where you start to pay everyone their market value. If you don’t its fairly easy to run a business getting a £100k plus people to work for £15k, it just doesn’t last very long. I fell into the trap with a business a while back – thinking I was “reinvesting”, but the reality was that I was becoming more and more detached from the value of the business and the products we offered. The “reinvestment” plan made it all a little make believe vs feeling every penny you spend which is what a small business should be feeling.

Where I see this happening more and more is not so much in small businesses, but big organisations who are looking to change, or innovate with their products.

The advertising industry historically grew by around 3%. Essentially it didn’t. This made most agencies  try and differentiate from the competition – you had to, it was about stealing. Then along came digital. the growth charts were phenomenal, it was the saviour. New products and services were launched things grew like mad, but the independents (media or creative) grew faster and innovated quicker. Why? They paid themselves properly. They charged clients properly, they paid their people properly, they paid their dedicated management properly and they had a crystal cler idea of their product and how to manage it and importantly grow it.

The “traditional” agencies, were trying to protect legacy revenue – TV media or production, the army of planners who sat in mild panic hoping they wouldn’t get asked a digital question by the client. Money was taken from digital to invariably prop up the old model. Why? because clients didn’t feel they needed to pay for this but agencies felt as though they should – so they took the money, thinking the strategic high ground would be safer than the commoditised trading or production. Clients want the job done, not save money on the money they give you. Its lack of belief in we do that makes it start to be about the money.

It all comes back to being paid properly. Having the tough conversation, being clear on what you are worth which makes you focus where you allocate you resource and why.


Business model canvas

Looking at how digital technology can truly integrate into an organisation, one model that I came across was the business canvas which has been developed by the guys at Business Model Hub – a community and rattle bag of what appears to be some very smart and open people.

The model maps out key organisational components – value on the right and operational efficiency on the left. Money in vs money out. Value proposition in the middle. Great.

Couple of things came out. Firstly how does or could digital add value or efficiency into each area. Starting on the right.

Customer segments

Who are our current customer segments. Normally we define them by how we reach them. Young men who eat 4 bags of crisps, like to go out with their mates and are thinking about buying a car, are invariably distilled down to 18-24 year old men as that’s the only size brush you have to paint with. With digital we can get into community areas, passion groups … and reach them.As Clay Shirky said

“Tools that provide simple ways of creating groups lead to new groups, […] and not just more groups but more kinds of groups.”

Customer Relationships

What is the nature of your relationship with your customer? Just sell to them? Ask them? Involve them? Meet them afterwards and talk to their friends


This is really where most head resource gets used and most money spent. Which are the usual channels to reach our usual customers, So fairly easy, how are you using (getting excited about) digital to reach your customers.

I won’t go the whole way across the canvas, but you get the idea. How are we engaging our resource? assets? people? Suppliers?

As you go through the exercise you realise that where digital technology really comes into it own is to start to facilitate and link boxes, that don’t historically get linked. Using suppliers as a channel? Customers as a resource? New relationships through how we change activities? but some great work comes out when you link them up (I’m a huge fan of arrows and turning them round and thinking – “What would that look like”

Trendwatching.com show this perfectly when they look at how the canvas can describe emerging models.

.. but its the organisational effect that is very exciting. How do you decentralise digital thinking? How do you get your people and customers empowered and involved? That’s where the opportunity of mapping out really helps.

The first 10minutes of this great video from Best Buy nails the point of how if done well, technology really starts to break down the inter-departmental boxes.

1. Getting customers to review your advertising

2. Suppliers to act as a route to market

3. Your team to develop your product

Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson in conversation with Peter Hirshberg at Google Zeitgeist from peter hirshberg on Vimeo.

This isn’t new, but what I thought was great was that it gave a framework to engage an organisation and to map out value and actions. Planned brilliance vs an occasional cry of “Ureka” coming from the ghetto.

As always any feedback would be more than welcome.


Can a brand ever create a digital strategy?

It’s a big question really and something much of the “client side” marketing community look upon with horror.

You can hear the board meetings “We need a digital strategy, what’s the role of digital?”, eyes on marketing .. a tentative nod and then the fun begins. The reality is that for any marketing team to create a “digital strategy” is nonsense. Its like saying we need to review how we are using plastic or “Bob? Where is the role of paper report within the marketing function I asked for?”. Doesn’t have quite the ring to it does it.

We all see digital as a transmission method (internet, web, email, radio, TV … watches), yet we keep on trying to give it a strategic objective. Most companies will have a very clear idea of what they need to achieve, how they create and execute a plan and fingers crossed measure it. Whether its above-the-line, promotions, PR, on pack or focus groups for customer input, the roles are clear and robust. We should then be asking “How can digital help the bit I am doing / or not”. In essence digital needs to be slave to the function and should never sit as a strategic objective.

Many companies have used digital to develop or launch new products or services,  driven some great awareness, gor customer feedback or sold more product but all of these were locked onto an existing area (NPD, advertising, insight and sales) and any digital thinking should ultimately be coming out of those teams, not some dude on the top the floor with “Digital Strategy”  stuck on their door.

If you try and tell most people that if all goes well there will be no digital strategy, just digital helping to deliver the existing strategy, they look at you like you are crazy. Time to decentralize it and get everyone thinking.


Marketing executive survey, on social media trends in 2010

Recently MENG, and Anderson Analytics released a report highlighting the importance of social media in the marketing world. MENG is a national network of top-level marketing executives.

A few point, which grabbed my attention were: (full presentation available below):

  • Social Media usage. Most large companies have presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter but obviously not using Myspace as much. 92% of executives had a LinkedIn presence, but only 13% maintained a personal blog.
  • Internal or external resources. More and more companies are looking to hire internal employees to strategies and implement social media, followed by social media consultants.
  • Online or offline. 45% of the spend will be online as oppose to 55% offline spend. Smaller companies are more likely to spend higher online, 48% of them as oppose to 30% (2000+ employees).
  • Relevant and Importance. Marketing ROI, customer retention, brand loyalty, branding, customer service etc are still the most important topics for marketing heads. Mobile, social media, word of mouth, blogging etc are channels they are using increasingly to achieve these objectives.

Anderson Analytics MENG 2010 Trend Report Final