Sunday, August 2, 2009

Marketing tips from your local butcher

What do cuts of meat and advertising have in common? Quite a lot these days.

A few weeks ago I was treated to a roast ‘shoulder of lamb’. I’ve never had the cut before. My host explained that it was inexpensive and pretty fatty. Fresh from the supermarket, the shoulder of lamb didn’t look that appetising. The trick, I was told, was to cook it for a long time, tenderising the meat and allowing it to roast in it’s own juices.

The result? Absolutely delicious!

Then I heard a café owner on the radio saying that he was using much more ‘shoulder of lamb’, and his customers loved it.
Why my sudden interest in Butchery and what does it have to do with advertising, you may ask?

The global financial crisis may or may not have blown over. (I’m old enough to believe that wars and recessions seldom ‘end by Christmas’)

In fact financial crises have always affected marketing and advertising in the same way. Clients cut budgets, advertising agencies and other creative suppliers cut staff. This is what has happened in all past recessions.

The difference this time round is that there are a lot fewer staff to fire. All creative suppliers are already cut to the bone.

Most large TV commercial production houses, photographers, designers, digital developers: in fact any creative supplier will be struggling. Several production houses and agencies have already closed.

So, you’re a marketer and the order has come in from head office to cut costs and grow sales. (Huh?) Your big creative suppliers just can’t do it any cheaper. What can you do?

The answer is meat. Scotch fillet makes a great meal, but it’s expensive. Shoulder of lamb makes a great meal, you just need to know about it and cook it properly.

It’s the same creatively. Let me give a recent example.

I took a TV script and a decent budget to a ‘Hot’ production company. These people had a big reputation for shooting well known TV commercials. They had an amazing office, cool people … and a crazy quote. Their ‘ballpark’ estimate was double my stated budget. Their overheads meant that their costs had a certain ‘floor’ that they couldn’t go below.

Luckily I had also approached a very experienced director who had left his production company and was working from ‘no fixed address’. I didn’t care. We could meet anywhere. I didn’t need a boardroom and a receptionist, I needed great talent at a good price.

He and his producer did everything by laptop and mobile. They had no fixed overheads. They hired suppliers as needed. They did the job on budget (which is half the price of the Hot Shop), they were keen and helpful AND the result was first class!

Steak or shoulder of lamb? It depends on your budget and your knowledge.

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Paul said...

Thanks Tony, it is always interesting and entertaining to read your views.

I think increasingly creatives will move away from the big agencies – an increasingly popular model seems to be employment 2-4 days a week for an agency (to pay the mortgage) with the other days spend on individual projects. This allows the clients who know how to cook a shoulder of lamb access to top quality creative a much more acceptable prices (that reflect the quality of the work, rather than the overheads of the agency). The best creatives can demand this (or otherwise the agencies will loose their top creative altogether), which also causes a problem for the big agency (limited access), which will stimulates clients to move to independents more often.

I think the GFC has been a fabulous catalyst for these and other long overdue changes!

Tony Richardson said...

Yes, things really are changing. Cheers Tony