I am now approaching the eighth week of trading, and it already feels as though everything has been established for years. I’ve made bookings in outdoor, radio and press, and the first TV campaigns are planned to go live in December. I’m very encouraged by the amount of business I’ve generated in such a short time - and all from a standing start.
Obviously, there are many, many more rejections than conversions, and I’m learning not to take this too personally - although this is easier said than done. That said, when something does come in that you’ve put a lot of effort into, it is a great feeling. In the afternoon, I go along to the star-studded ITV Upfronts for 2011 presented by Ant and Dec - the event promised to be extremely entertaining, and it doesn’t disappoint.
James Hooper, account executive at Metro, drops into the office for a chat about how the free newspaper is trading since the London Evening Standard boosted its circulation by going free. Personally, I think [the Standard’s move to go free] is an odd state of affairs, and one that seems to suggest people will pick up anything if they don’t have to pay for it.
I’m not saying the Evening Standard’s not a good title, but if people weren’t willing to pay a mere 50p for the paper, then did they really want or need it in the first place? Especially given the super-affluent audience it claims to reach.
Today is Board Meeting day, and the four of us - myself and my three fellow investors from a TV production agency - head to Carluccio’s below our office for a coffee. We discuss how the business is performing against projections, and I’m glad to say we’re ahead of where we thought we would be in terms of number of client meetings and turnover.
I am finding it useful to have people on hand to bounce ideas off. It’s easy to take being part of a team for granted in larger organisations, and although you might not always be on the same page, chatting to colleagues does help to temper your ideas and spot gaps.
For anyone in the same position, I’d advocate running your ideas past as many trusted people as possible. Paul Roberts, who works on the strategy team at cancer charity Macmillan, is a good muse. It’s amazing what someone outside a project can come up with.
Danielle Finch from the sales team at Ocean Outdoor is the first person to present to me on an iPad. This works really well actually - the slick use of video showcases Ocean’s expanding portfolio well, and the software seems to beat PowerPoint hands down in terms of production. More iPad presentations please.
Tim Hufford, sales director at atmAd, comes in for breakfast. I’ve known Tim for a while, as he has been a mover and shaker in the outdoor world for a few years - a little-known fact is that he used to be a dolphin trainer before turning to media.
Tim talks me through atmAd’s new Take Note presentation, which makes some great points. To be honest, I’d never really considered advertising on cash machine screens, so I was surprised to hear that recall of the core message can be as high as 50%. Next, Nick Rice, trading manager at News International, drops by to chat through trading terms and how The Times and the Sunday Times are performing, followed by lunch.
The rest of the afternoon flies by and, before I know it, I’m tying my burgundy velvet bow-tie and heading to the Media Week Awards. Over the evening I’m accosted by a few people who give me a good grilling about running an agency, which puts me on the spot. Everyone is supportive of my new venture though, which is encouraging. I’m already looking forward to next year, and I feel inspired to do everything I can to be shortlisted for an award.
Today is an odd day. Every now and then, due to the size of our business, we get somebody requesting a meeting because they’ve had a world-changing idea and they want to promote it. I’ve learned it’s a bad idea to dismiss these out-of-hand, because one in 20 will result in something. Unfortunately, today isn’t the day though. Apart from being illegal and immoral, this particular idea would need an act of God to get people involved.
Up early today to have breakfast at Smiths of Smithfield with Will Keggin, online account manager for Disney. Will takes me through the kids market to help me prepare for a meeting later in the day with a potential children’s book publisher client. Armed with a bunch of nicked charts from Disney, the afternoon’s meeting goes really well.
A potential client from the skincare sector travels down to see us. They’re being ultra-careful about every detail before signing anything off, which is prudent, although sometimes clients can go over the top and ask for information that would have little bearing on the result. This is where I can really add value to businesses that are new to advertising - by taking them through conversions and sitting with them with a calculator to show how the TV numbers stack up.
Clients are like buses - nothing new for a while and then three sign up at once. This makes today MarketPlace’s best day to date, and I start the weekend with a real spring in my step. I’m now finding that my work has shifted from concentrating on new business generation to account management and consultancy.
If the business is to keep growing though, it is important to make sure I keep feeding the new-business pipeline so there’s constant new work coming in. Although this will mean working even more hours, it’s all with the end goal in sight.
Next month: MarketPlace comes up against a client with some tough expectations.