Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Back To Basics: Robert Campbell.


From the sublime to the ridiculous. Next up in the back to basics series, I'm delighted to present the birkenstock-clad Robert Campbell - a man who makes up in original thinking and humanity for what he may lack in urbane dress-sense.

Robert is co-creator of the cynic advertising empire, a provocative irritant to the rest of that industry and runs a new venture called Sunshine in Hong Kong. He swears a lot, has won many awards and, as with Seth, he's someone whom I initially met and shared ideas with online, but came to know in real life too. His terrific answers approach the questions not only from the perspective of someone who runs his own business but also as someone who solves marketing problems for others. Here they are.

How do you get new business?

In my experience, the ad industry tends to lose about 30% of its revenue annually so they need to continually fight for new business just to stand still.

When we started cynic, we thought this was a mad situation to be in so rather than simply chase money, we decided on a strict criteria regarding new business, they must be either [1] run by an entrepreneur [as we are more likely to be attractive to them] [2] be 3rd or 4th in their respective category with ambitions for disproportionate growth and/or [3] trying to understand culture outside of their core category [either for NPD/business development/research purposes]

We also try to deal with people who sit beyond just a marketing role – or at the very least – hold a senior board position. We do this because we believe we can only show our value if we address fundamental business issues rather than simply discuss marketing and advertising – which is why we incorporate a royalty scheme within our remuneration proposals as this helps demonstrate we’re happy to put our money where our mouth is.

Of course there are exceptions to this – but all in all, we have stuck to these rules and it has enabled us to build a fairly solid foundation of business that has allowed us to grow and expand into a variety of areas – often in conjunction with our clients.

How would you advise others to do so?

Don’t fall for the trap of only evaluating a new business prospect by the money, the creative opportunity or the chance to get a bigger slice of their marketing spend down the line. Those elements play a part, but it shouldn’t be the only part.

How has this changed in recent years and why?

Adland loves to go on about how they’ve lost their seat at the ‘big table’ … but that’s because more often than not, they talk about things that the ‘big table’ doesn’t give a flying **** about, ie: ads. {I told you he swears.}

The sad truth is that in a lot of cases, companies don’t value their marketing director nearly as much as they once did – which is why the emphasis is on driving business, not driving advertising – which is why those who can think creatively without the need to link it to an advertising channel [established or new] have great potential for future growth.

How would your advice differ for someone who is just starting up?

Deal with the top and deal with what they are focused on achieving.

Be knowledgeable about their company, their category and society as a whole. [Including how political, economical and social change is affecting the attitudes and approaches of society in relation to their business]

Create interesting, energised and executable ideas that can quantifiably fulfil their commercial [and emotional ambitions]

Remember turnover is vanity, profit is sanity.

How do you balance this with keeping existing customers satisfied and coming back?

We treat all clients like they’re new clients – it’s the lifeblood of our survival.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what the fuck were you thinking dodds?

at least you get brownie points for calling his asia adventure by the wrong name which keeps you from falling off the cred edge.

3:25 PM, January 06, 2010  
Blogger Rob @ Cynic said...

I'd like to thank my copywriting team for making me sound a teensy-bit intelligent.

Thank you John - and just for the record, the Asia company is called 'Sunshine', the "hello" bit is just to show that despite the swearing, me and the guys are house trained.

4:38 PM, January 06, 2010  
Blogger john dodds said...

The hello bit also features in the url - as I keep telling you, someone in your IT dept needs a good talking to.

I'm uessing the previous comment came from one of your adoring and supportive business partners, though the fact that he or she thinks I have credibility makes me doubt that.

2:37 AM, January 07, 2010  
Blogger Rob @ Cynic said...

OK, I'm bored stupid of my face - can you write a new blog post please.

5:14 PM, January 12, 2010  

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