Thursday 24 January 2019

Michael Cullen: Learning lessons from online giants

Icad president and Boys and Girls partner Rory Hamilton with Elaine McDevitt, Icad managing director; below Vizeum managing director Conor Murphy
Icad president and Boys and Girls partner Rory Hamilton with Elaine McDevitt, Icad managing director; below Vizeum managing director Conor Murphy

Michael Cullen

Paul Dervan, senior director of global brand strategy with international recruitment group, said instigating rules of engagement around marketing in an online-based business comes down to an obsession about being useful, testing and learning and seeing search as key to growth, not a bolt-on.

The biggest barrier to innovation is certainty. Marketers should not naturally assume a theory is right. They must prove it and be ready to be wrong. Don't let ego get in the way and reward curiosity, Dervan added. Testing ideas promotes humility and prompts a more inclusive business culture. Get an answer to why?

Clare O'Mahony, head of growth at change consultants Stripe, said the internet economy is still so nascent that a lot of business models in Ireland have yet to be created. Marketers need to act with speed and decisiveness to get there. Like Amazon, start with the customer and work backwards. Show you're able to monetise convenience, price and selection.

Ask yourself two questions: "Is your business model of today suitable for tomorrow?" and "If not, what are you doing about it?"

Q Vizeum managing director Conor Murphy said seismic changes in media-buying forced the agency's hand in its client relations. They knew that with the likes of Deloitte and Accenture as competition, they couldn't lie down. "There's a critical moment - even for a well-run business - where things look different," Murphy said.

After an in-depth review of their business at away days, Vizeum knew they had to 'walk the walk' and do things differently. Take back control and help clients, regardless of budgets. One client talking about price was really a cry for help in growing their business. It ushered in a new approach, Murphy insisted, with a shift from processes to outcomes.

"Like measuring media metrics and reducing churn. Joining the dots between what we do and client goals. Measurability helps us move away from the old focus on transactions to being a consultant for growth," Murphy added. As regards Vizeum's strategy in ongoing support for client growth is concerned, he said it's vital to be open-minded and react to market changes.

Q The body charged with promoting standards in Irish advertising and design is celebrating 60 years on the go. Over the last six decades, the Institute of Creative Advertising & Design, aka Icad, has mirrored the changes in Irish society and helped shape values and lifestyles.

To mark the milestone, Icad is staging a series of special events and activities, using the theme 'Ringing the Bells of Change'. Bells relate to the gongs handed out at Icad award shows every year since 1958. The events programme includes this year's awards show at Christchurch, when church bells will literally ring out on Friday, May 25.

Details on Icad Upstarts, Icademy, Portfolio Lab and Symposium can be found at Plans for the Icad 60 wrap-up show in November will be unveiled at a later date.

Q And finally... Leinster Rugby became a commercial success and the squad's fortunes were transformed by improving the culture in the organisation, former Leinster and Ireland international centre Gordon D'Arcy said. Speaking at a business growth seminar hosted by media agency Vizeum, D'Arcy said a catalyst for change was the arrival of Joe Schmidt as club coach.

D'Arcy himself felt he was guilty of taking shortcuts and he chose to ask some of the older players he respected for some honest feedback, he said. Their comments were hard to hear. It was said he was "a bad person to have around" and his behaviour and attitude reflected the club's toxic culture at the time.

Leinster coach Michael Chieka's all-or-nothing approach was indicative of a man who hated losing more than he loved winning, he said.

Schmidt came in and he challenged the squad to be better at everything and proved less emotional than his predecessor, D'Arcy said. First team and academy players were told to greet each other with a handshake every day. Players were obliged to call club officials by name. Being on time for training and everyday club duties became a must.

Every player had their month's schedule mapped out in advance. Schmidt's thinking was that if a player can't decide on what gear to wear, how could they be expected to make a vital decision late in a game? The change in Leinster's culture was crucial at important times in big games. Leadership is about making others perform better and accepting that you can only control the 'controllables', D'Arcy added.



Michael Cullen is editor of;

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