An incredible panel of seasoned, uber-achieving ad executives that are known for shaking things up and delivering massive results was asked, “What is the elephant in the room?” What are the HARD conversation we need be having in our staff-culture sessions? What do we need to focus on to get us back on track and with rocket fuel? Gemma Greaves of The Marketing Society puts each panelist to the task.
“Inside a corporation, the fact that you use the word “digital” drives people to look at all the WRONG metrics.” – Zaid Al-Qassab of BT When a corporation focuses on the wrong metrics, such as cost-per-click, cost per message, “likes,” or the cost of digital marketing which has nothing to do with the message or the customer. When in reality, all marketing today is digital – there’s no getting away from it. Just going back to the focus of “who’s our audience and what do they want” will allow for good digital marketing to happen on its own.
Lucien Boyer of Vivendi succinctly sums up the need to break down marketing silos between in-house and firm, digital and traditional, etc. and hints that possibly by even ignoring the existence of silos and focusing on the lost believe that it’s not about “consumer Johnny,” it’s about real people with real lives, will bring us all back around to better marketing. Having a powerful, cohesive narrative arch across the messages journey will “attach people to something that will touch the emotion.”
Time is finite, a nonreplenishable resource, and moves so fast, the importance of candor and “straight-talk” is of ultimate value, according to Lisa Gilbert of IBM UK & Ireland. Straight-talk removes ambiguity, but can have negative connotations as being rude, or abrupt, and in some cultures is not even acknowledged without the precursor of conversational niceties. It’s much easier to keep quiet, or “just say something nice” that may not be genuine to avoid having to muster the fortitude it takes to have candor and honest conversations about what may or may not be working.
David Wheldon CMO RBS, and president of the WFDA, and actually keeps a large elephant-figure in his meeting room, says everyone needs discuss transparency including to where money is coming from and where funding is going. As a bank, RBS is held to account, and David would like to see transparency, in particular in media and in campaigns, but also in rewarding people for the good that they do.
Dave Trott of ECD says “clients are trained, we are trained.” Dave says more senior people need to be on the front end of the decision making, not on the back end. Dave suggests too much junior employee “diplomacy” is getting in the way of hiring an expert in the first place. The problem is agencies are working too hard to keep clients happy at the cost of doing good work that the expert, in this case agency, was hired to do in the first place.
At the end of the day, Lisa framed it best with, “Every agency gets the client they deserve, and vice versa.” To get the best out of these hard conversations, be open, be honest, and keep your creative team very close.