Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why am I called a Contrarian?

I really can not understand why people who focus on R.O.I. or Sales when it comes to advertising are considered Contrarian? Advertising is supposed to be about sales. Yes its great when creatives can do fun things and make selling fun or make your product or brand fun. But the reality is the CFO makes the rules. If the CMO can't show ROI the CFO is going to reallocate resources where the ROI is superior. This could be anything from R&D to Direct Sales. Or there can be a reallocation within Marketing.

I see often more buzz about advertising within Advertising Circles than outside of Advertising. My Finance background breaks down things to numbers very quick. I have written about this before. Creatives and Marketers hate that. But Finance is about maximizing returns (for good and bad). Owners and Shareholders demand this. I myself do not have tunnel vision. I feel businesses should take care of employees, their clients, and their communities before the stakeholders. But it is rare to find a Company that does that.

Now to be fair when I do bring up Sales, I am not slamming Creatives. I am an artist myself. I have many art and music friends, more than that are in the corporate world. So I know how hard it is to create and make great stuff. And your hamstrung in Advertising by the Product, your Client, the Media Buy etc. You can create a great TV spot that get's shown 3 times. Not the Creative's fault if no sales are generated from that. Or the spots could be shown to the wrong demographic. Or as I have written say the product sucks?! Advertising get's people to try something and if the client doesn't help with a great product its not the Agency's fault.

But if the Advertising Industry thinks being about R.O.I. and Sales is Contrarian then they are smugly and vainly telling clients they are happy to waste their money. And shame on the clients for allowing this. And yes when I pitch clients I do tell them bluntly 'If I can save you $10 million by cutting your media buy without reducing sales, will you give me $1 million of that'.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why us Finance Folks are Needed by Creatives and Marketers

Marketers are like Politicians. Its style and fluff over substance. It's about creating an image because that is their job. And for both when you peek under the hood it can be pretty scary. Remember a marketing or advertising agency is used to spinning things for their clients to get people to try a product, service or brand. Once that occurs their job is done. If the consumer tries something and the product, service, or brand does not fulfill expectations no marketing in the world can fix this.

Finance people don't like the fluff. We tend to be direct. We analyze numbers fast. We will use cost basis justification (proving superior value or return or investment). So when the news, marketers and politicians were spinning Health Care reform costing $1 trillion over 10 years, Finance folks immediately said: That is only $100 billion per year and less than our wars and only 15% of our Military Budget.

This week it was announced that Facebook users watched 250 million videos last month. The head of a BDA (see George Parkers Ad Scam link to your left to know what a BDA is) touted this milestone. I am a finance guy. I immediately took that number and divided by Facebook's 450 million active user number. And Whammo....0.6 Videos per active user per month. That is like me spitting in the Ocean and telling you the Ocean now has my spit. Its un-newsworthy. Period.

To see other Facebook Facts that are Un-newsworthy see my blogpost on analyzing the data:


Apple Sells 1.7 IPhone G4's first week:


Immediately I only care about how many units replaced old I Phones that were this taken out of service. See my comments on the Media Post Article.

So us Finance folks are needed to ensure our clients or the people we work for don't get taken in by spin and cut through to the reality. And it goes both ways. A Finance person is more likely to tell their client the truth, that their product or service or operations will impact our work. We won't promise sales to go through the roof just to win business. When I bid to consult on Social Media I do not bring up crazy numbers. I give them reality. But often they prefer the crazy numbers, and that means they aren't usually a client I should work with.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Vanity of Advertising

I think the Industry often does clients a disservice by not focusing on Sales. Yet at the same time patting each other on the back for great work that can not be proven has benefited the clients who paid for the work.

Glaring proof is the ridiculous number of Awards events. I know Advertising and Media is highly segmented due to mediums, formats, and technologies. But I have never once seen an award connected to sales. Shouldn't all awards for the most part be connected to either sales or customer retention.

And shouldn't the winners of all awards events be based not on the creative or the quality of work but the sales increase? If I helped a client increase sales 100% and someone else who wins an award can't prove they helped make a dime, doesn't that confuse our clients? Doesn't that do a disservice to our industry as a whole and have people view us as scammers?

In direct sales no awards are won unless you sell. And the ones who sell the most get the awards. And yes...THEY GET PAID MORE! And this whole issue of not wanting to be paid for performance because of the 'risk' and 'investment' is a crock of shit. I say that because businesses hire and train and support direct sales efforts risking much more money than advertising does with the same risks! Agencies should not be guaranteed a profit, but should have all their costs covered that includes the employee rate and everyone's pay. And if you are afraid you won't perform then that is the Agencies fault, not the demanding client. You don't have to take the work. Or if the Brand (see tomorrows post) sets you up to fail that is the Agencies fault too for being a sell out for some money.

Remember 9 out of 10 products fail in the marketplace. Do Brands stop product development because they know 9 will be failures? So for an Agency to demand always a profit is pretty damn vain.

My next post will discuss the Agency Bidding and Review process because its only fair I hold the Brands to account for their shortcomings.