Sunday, March 18, 2007


I'm officially a Mother.

I'm a Marketer On THE Run.

Which means we now have to consider the Mother Factor.

Since I got back into the corporate side 4 months ago, it's business as usual. Well, almost business as usual.

The big difference is that it's just so busy. All day, every day. Without a break. Long hours. Making decisions on the go. Not having enough time to think about stuff.

It's the same all over the company I work in. And when I talk to my other marketing mates in other companies it's exactly the same.

When I got to Sydney 11 years ago, things were different. I used to get taken out for lunch by the fragrance suppliers or ACP or Pacific Mags or some promo agency. Probably about once a month or so. I wasn't a bludger. It was just what happened.

And that was before the golden age of the 80's which I missed. Unfortunately.

Nowdays if I get taken out for lunch it just means I'll be working half of saturday to make up for it. Which annoys me because:

a) I like long lunches
b) the best deals are done over lunch and
c) great relationships with my suppliers are formed over lunch.

Tell this to a Brand Manager today and they look at you all funny, just before they turn away and keep writing the promo brief they're about to pitch to 5 different agencies. Including the one that just delivered record sales and response rates on the last promo.

Even the Christmas period is different. There used to be a wind down period before Xmas day. Then you'd ease back into it on Jan 10th and be full steam ahead by about the 20th.

Not nowdays. It's like stopping for a quick drink in the 100m Olympic Final.

So what does this all mean? What implications does the MOTHER factor have?

Call me. Call me now.
I love the strategic thinking. But I don't have a lot of time for it. There's a great opportunity for the agency to be pro-active. Start the conversation. Start the thinking. And then finish it.

I'm not sure the last time a strat planner rang me or my Research Manager to talk about an idea they had that they wanted to discuss further, or get some further insight into.

Hang on. Yes...I do remember it. It was 7 years ago. No bullshit. (Good on ya Cate).

Agencies have to be sleazy guys in a night club.
Sleazy guys who are out to pick up women don't take no for an answer. No means yes. They just keep going and going until the girl says yes.

Agencies have to keep pushing. Not on the creative idea. That's a given.

The agency has to push back on finding time. They have to make sure they know the business problem properly so they can formulate a strategic solution.

Marketers are so busy, finding 2 hours to just talk about the business seems like a waste of time. It's like nothing gets done. Of course that's not the reality, but it seems to be a non productive time in a younger marketers mind.

Don't Overwork the Waiter
Ever been to a restaurant where the waiter is really, really busy?

He's good at what he does, but he's the only guy working that night and trying to serve 25 tables. Everyone's pissed off. They're waiting too long. The guys not even getting the basics right. The guy might be trying his best, but hey....that's the last time I'm going to that restaurant.

It's the same feeling being a marketer and the Strat Planner is stuck waiting too many tables - 3 different clients and 9 divisions within them.

The guy's on a hiding to nothing.

Learn a Foreign Language
Marketing Directors need to force their team to learn a foreign language. The language of advertising and communication.

It's not a natural bent for marketers. Whilst we all want to travel to South America and learn Portugese and frolic on the beach in Rio for a couple of years, the closest most of us get to a Brazilian is when the girlfriend comes back from her beauty therapist.

Get the Brand Team to apply for Award School. Get the agency to run creative presentations. Run 1 on 1 workshops as part of the weekly WIP to discuss what other brands are doing. Start a marketing department blog and encourage people to contribute to it - brand team and the agency. Get the agency to be a sleazy guy.

Learn the foreign language of good creative. Just don't go overboard like Amanda Vanstone.

Look like Sydney Rail
A lot of marketing teams work in open plan environments these days. You want everyone to think you're always working really, really hard. No-one promotes a slack arse. And everyone can see when you're being one.

So it's hard to stop answering emails that no-one cares about and sit back and think. Even for 10 minutes. Sit back in your chair and think. Of course, people will think you've lost the plot.

But marketers are allowed to think.

Look like you're not working for a while. Look like Sydney Rail. And think about how to make things better.

Hire Good Mothers
Companies need to hire more experienced people who can make decisions on the run. Decisions based on years of experience.

Believe it or not, there are some Marketing Managers out there today who have only ever made one or two ads in their life. When things are going 150 miles an hour, it's gonna get sticky.

So when the 24 year old Assistant Brand Manager moans about not being a Marketing Manager on $150k a year, tell 'em they're dreaming.

Make time for the long lunch
Prioritise. Let small stuff slip through the cracks. Recognize the stuff that won't make a difference.

Learn that it's ok to say to some people 'that's too low on the list priorities and won't get done', and then go and have a long lunch anyway.

'Nuff said!

Amanda Vanstone - Super Mum and Dedicated to learning foreign languages


Gavin Heaton said...

Nice post, Vando.

Next time you have half an hour, pop on by for coffee. Hey perhaps we can shift to a quick beer after work?

Vando said...

Could do easter monday Gav. Not really getting out of work anytime before about 8 these days