Bill Merrick has more than 20 years experience in international business, gained in marketing, advertising and PR – from packaged goods to infrastructure. He is now, from London, partnering with Darren Woolley to launch TrinityP3 UK – to bring all of their combined experience and insight to clients in Europe.
Life and lessons go hand in hand
When I left Ogilvy a little while back, I had been in sales, marketing, advertising and communications for nearly 40 years.
I had lived and worked in 10 cities in 7 countries on 3 continents.
I’ve had the luck to work with some great companies, some brilliant colleagues, and some very enlightened clients.
But I’ve also had the misfortune to work on some brands that no longer exist and with some clients who probably shouldn’t. Experience has taught me that one needs to see a lot of bad to be good in the marketing and advertising business.
Along the way, there are of course, lessons to be learnt.
The first one counted the most to me. This is a business with a very specific focus – selling things where the return should be greater than the investment.
The second is to learn to do this each time, more efficiently and more effectively, so that you get better.
And the third, is that to get better and better, you have to be very, very specific about who you have to talk to – and where and how to talk with them – each time you want sell something different to someone else.
So in 40 years I learnt that marketing and then advertising work on these questions:
Who do you want to talk to?
What do you want to say?
How and where will you say it to them?
And what do you want them to do as a result?
Simple. Not really….
How to waste everything
So I’ve grown into it believing that what we all do is not quite art, it’s not quite science and it’s certainly not magic. And it’s not successful when you work with assumptions, generalisations or guesses.
Above all, it has to make a difference to the specific person or people who are supposed to do something as a result of it. If it doesn’t do this, it’s a waste of every sort of resource you can name. Your client’s, their board, their stakeholders, colleagues, supply chain and every poor soul whose life it touches.
Oh, and all of yours as well.
So who’s to blame?
And if it what you’re doing doesn’t make a difference – and really measurably work, it seems to be that the universe has decided that the person to blame is the Marketing Director. So the orchestra can then shoot the conductor. Score one for the score.
So to answer the question of: “Whose fault is this then?” All the fingers always seem to point to this poor person.
But is it really their fault?
I don’t believe so, and I’m out to help prove it.
And so, after a career as an artist, retailer, sales person, trainer, Ad man, PR man and (maybe this is a pointer) – Marketing Director – with the help of a friend, Darren Woolley – I’m embarking on a new mission.
We know who’s to blame, so let’s round ‘em up
I’m out to get the Marketing Directors of the world.
Get them out of trouble, that is.
I’m out to extend their lifespan.
I’m out to get them the credit they deserve – and for the companies and brands they work with – the just rewards they can rightfully earn.
How can I hope to do this?
I’m partnering with the founder of TrinityP3 (Darren Woolley) to launch it in the UK.
Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Darren’s a bit like me – started life doing something quite different – a scientist – and then moved on to a career as a very successful creative director and now marketing change agent.
And he also wisely concluded – a long time before me – that there must be better ways to do “marketing.” (From now on, I’ll use that all encompassing word for what we all do as I’m sure your speciality can fit in there somewhere.)
And what better way than to venture forth together and evangelise that maybe there is some science – that there are “dark arts,” and that if used wisely, and in the right ways, can produce what would normally look like miracles.
Ah, the good old days! (When will they be back?)
Let’s go back a few years, to when life was simple and all we had was advertising agencies, media agencies, public-relations agencies, direct marketing agencies and sales promotion agencies.
Marketing directors and their direct reports lives were different then.
The world was a simple place and it’s where many of us began.
It was One Big Idea.
One campaign and one media spend – normally managed under one roof.
ATL and BTL. A wonderfully heady mix of TV, print, radio, outdoor, direct, sales promotions and PR.
So unless you had multiple brands – you had three or four agencies at most.
And what about internal relationships? Sales, manufacturing, IT, finance and HR.
Life was simple – not only were most other functions subsets of these few – so coordination was easier and more linear – but marketing directors and their agencies also lived in a simple financial world… Remuneration for agencies was almost regulated. The biggest disputes tended to be over courier charges.
And then along came complexity.
The hardest thing about fixing complexity is that it isn’t simple
The entire game changed rapidly before our eyes. Remuneration, relationships, structures, measurement, accountability and more – everything was coming undone.
It was all up for grabs.
Everyone in agencies became separated and eventually divorced. Even people within specialised areas became even more special and moved out. Agencies were not too good with the new math and started selling out to rapidly emerging holding companies.
Marketing directors and their teams gradually had new friends and acquaintances everywhere – externally and internally. IT added technology, and e-commerce – which morphed into digital. Procurement analysed in. Supply chain shipped in. HR supportively went into labour management, infrastructure, Health and Safety, Building and Talent Management. And Internal communications became Employee Branding. (Light the fires.)
The only thing that stayed the same was Branding, but it became a new sort of Branding. (It’s so clever it doesn’t even have much to do with branding anymore.)
And as we know, the web finally became truly social and has swept all before it.
But wait! There’s more… Then came along the Big Issues – Social Media, Big Data, Societal Change, The GFC, Austerity, Climate Change, Immigration and so on. Little voices turning into loud voices, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook – LinkedIn…and the volume and noise just goes up and up.
And sadly, as we now know from Facebook, the more friends you have – the busier you are – and time you spend gets spread out on people who are at best acquaintances. But less and less time is with the “real” friends. (There’s an incredible analogy to targeting here.)
And if you’re a marketing director, you’re supposed to be able to make sense of all of this.
I’m in marketing, get me out of here
The smart ones don’t get out, they just get even.
They’re the ones who’ve recognised the opportunities to make things even better. But these days – with this much complexity – they also know that everyone, including them, needs “A little help from my friends.”
But as many of us have found, when your initial objective is draining the swamp – it is sometimes completely lost when you’re up to your backside in crocodiles.
The industry and those it served has improved significantly. So I’m not going to fall into the trap of longing for the good old days.
The thing that I have longed for is a better way to manage and master this complexity for the mutual well-being of all – and make it clear that the blame game has no winners. So I started to shift what I’d been doing all my life into much more of this. But I found that here in Europe, I was a little bit lonely.
I think I can change, can you?
And that’s where Darren and TrinityP3 come in.
In Asia Pacific, where Darren and his Merry Band have been operating for many years – they have become best friends with many marketers – by helping them prosper in this “new normal.”
We met a little while back and found that we both wanted the same things and that there was an opportunity to take all that experience and put it to work here.
Darren’s success has been through a single-minded idea – take the complexity out of marketing and replace it with clarity, efficiency and effectiveness.
The approach has been to develop the necessary tools, design the right processes and bring together people who have successfully done this for a living. (And sometimes a lifetime.)
This means being able to help marketing directors and their ecosystems work better together with clearer specific objectives – purpose built processes, meaningful and real measurement systems and achieving planned results.
Is it OK to not know what you don’t know?
Yes it is. All it takes is to learn to ask. Answers can be found in building and managing the world’s largest database of agencies in all fields, then taking the time and effort to get to know them properly. This is so that when a marketing director needs to choose a new partner – we know the people who he needs to know. We can help manage the entire process from selecting the list of prospects, through the briefing, pitch and remuneration process to appointment.
We can help find better synergies in the roster of partnerships, align all of them (internally and externally) behind measurable and realistic objectives – tailor efficiencies, restructure departments, remuneration and incentive processes – all with the view of growth and not just cost savings.
We can also help you know what it costs to produce anything in all aspects of production.
Make friends and really influence people
How can we do all this? Because we have harvested the data, found the right people, identified the purpose, and then built the process.
So that’s why I’m getting together with Darren and we’re launching TrinityP3 here in the UK.
We just want to make it simple.
We just want to make friends.
And that, to me, seems hard to fault.
Our Marketing Business Alignment service strikes at the heart of our reason for being: driving enhanced marketing performance via alignment of process and commercial purpose. Why do you need this service? Read on to understand more.