What New Year resolutions is Callimedia making this year?
Funny really, as I don’t usually do “New Year’s Resolutions”. I believe that you’re either doing it right or not and if not, then you need to fix it. However the question has made me think about the past year, and what’s coming up in 2018.
Looking back over 2017 I probably was the “pushiest” that I have ever been in business, primarily in order to help customers see that change is a good thing when it’s based on a solid strategy, and I’ll look to continue that in 2018.
There’s a great story I’ve been dining out on over Christmas and the New Year, that for me typifies where we’re going in 2018. At one point in the summer I was told by a new customer that a contract we had been pitching for had been placed with another provider. Frustrated, I phoned up the next day and told the customer that they had made a big mistake. I said I could prove that we were the better option, before they’d even had their kick off meeting with the other company. The customer took up my challenge, and through some speculative work over a very short period of time we were able to give them valuable insight into their data. The insight we uncovered was beyond their understanding of their customers, which fortunately resulted in us winning the work. Phew!
So, I think “assertiveness” is mine (and Callimedia’s) New Year’s resolution, confident that our strategy, data, digital and print propositions will deliver highly positive outcomes. Even if we have to take some risks to get customers to see what it can do for them!
What really stood out for you in 2017, both in terms of the industry and Callimedia?
I’m very passionate about collaboration and trust, something that a few companies are starting to understand as they develop combined services propositions in 2018. Our customers still need to be assured they are getting the best price for the outcome they want, but as they increasingly understand the need for more intelligent forms of customer Engagement, Acquisition and Retention, there is also a need to combine service providers in a way not usual within the supply chain processes of the past.
I have experienced first-hand that with more collaborative and open initiatives we can deliver real value, and achieve outstanding results. We are even working to help printers deliver Enterprise service solutions to their customers.
In 2017 we established key relationships with several business partners to create an open business model (Marlixia.com) to support our expanded service offering into strategy, data and campaign delivery. We’ve won some interesting projects off the back of that, and have added some great value to customers as a result of the joint approach.
We’ve definitely not moved away from print, but have looked at how we can increase the value of what print delivers, by looking at data, strategy and multi-channel delivery. We’ve hired some great people too, and it’s an exciting growth period for Callimedia.
So, my standout from 2017 and into 2018 is Collaborate with key providers you can trust and be inclusive into the overall needs of your customers, you will be amazed at the results
What do you think the big opportunities are for 2018?
The first is definitely Data, Data, Data…….oh, and did I mention Data? Undoubtedly, with the emerging spectre of GDPR compliance, the commercial world is starting to wake up and realise that; 1) they have to make sure they have a defined and well-structured data strategy and policy in place, and 2) in data lies significant growth opportunities.
Further, making sure to blend all that data with Multi-Channel and Integrated communication strategies, specifically where I see growth opportunities for 2018 for Callimedia and our Group (Marlixia.com). More effective campaigns, driven by analysis, can only deliver increased value to our customers.
The second opportunity for 2018 is that Print is on the increase!
Already, as we plan our budgets for the next financial year, we have several customers looking to re-engage with print after previously stepping away. There is a lot of noise in the digital world, and as a result some of our customers are increasing their print budgets for the first time in several years. GDPR is also driving more interest in print as a customer Acquisition tool.
What’s different now however is that run lengths and quantities will be more aligned to the segmentation and profiling of customer data, and will be integrated more closely with other activity (such as digital and social) to deliver far greater ROI than before.
Are there any threats that you perceive for 2018 that people should watch out for?
With the challenge of Brexit and the resulting and less than favourable, exchange rate with the Euro the doors to Europe are largely closed with regard to sourcing large scale print work.
We have still worked in Europe during 2017; managing several projects in Germany, Poland and Holland, but in the main we are trading within UK borders. This could potentially continue to impact capacity in the UK, and lead to performance and quality issues during peak times, as we saw in 2017.
The primary challenge is clear; print manufacturers are still killing themselves to get revenue contribution and billed hours on their presses. This will undoubtedly lead to more casualties in 2018, either by way of closures or mergers, as businesses can’t sustain the pricing.
I believe this will further continue to place greater pressure on capacity as well as costs, as the supply chain balances out against the UK requirement for print. This in turn builds upward pressure on pricing and could mean that work is either taken abroad, or worse, moved into digital channels – never to return to print.
Where there any disappointments in 2017? What did you learn from these?
Procrastination and fear of change were the biggest disappointments to me in 2017. I personally think this comes from tight budgets, and a lack of risk appetite to take on a vision needed to move to growth, as opposed to survival.
But change is here, and the corporate world is starting to see that to achieve growth there needs to be a new strategic approach when enticing people to their brands. Leveraging data, being truly multi-channel and segmenting to increase relevance all deliver better results.
Doing the same thing year in year out won’t improve your bottom line, at best you’ll stay where you are, at worst you’ll experience gradual customer attrition.
My hope is that, as an industry, we gather together and make sure we have a cohesive message to market. We need to educate marketers about what’s possible from a technical aspect in a way that’s relevant to them and shows the growth that could come from it, to further avoid the price point proposition that so many of us have to battle with each day.
What’s the best business book that you read in 2017, that had the biggest impact on how you do business?
By far it is the Simon Sinek book – Start with Why.
I was abroad this year on holiday, writing the copy for our newly formed company Data Alien (www.dataalien.com), and by day two I had deleted what I had written and started again based upon the principles and teachings of this book.
The book taught me two things, firstly, that business typically communicate “what” they do, and may occasionally get around to why you should work with them, which limits their potential. Start with Why teaches you to start the conversation around “Why you do what you do”, defining your values principles and passions before anything else.
The second thing it taught me is that if your values are not aligned to that of the values of your customer then the relationship is unlikely to work, just like a sour marriage.
It has meant that I have backed off from some commercial conversations where, however much I have tried to cultivate business opportunities, our values differed greatly. Our efforts are far better rewarded when working with organisations and people that are more aligned with our thinking and the value we can offer.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
My dear Dad gave me two pieces of advice when I was young. 1) get yourself a job with a company car ☺ (when there weren’t the tax implications there are now) and 2) You will never be rich working for someone else. While not completely true (just ask some of Steve Job’s early colleagues), I think he wanted to provoke an entrepreneurial spirit in me to go and do things for myself, something I’ve always carried within me since.
I also worked for a photographer when I was 18, and one of the stand out things he said to me was: “when you are wrong, stand up on a chair and shout out loud that you are wrong”.
I have always done exactly that (although perhaps not literally!), and as a result I have found that not only do people respect you more, you waste less time on blame, and more time on fix. As long as you learn from those mistakes it makes you a better person and encourages others to do the same.
I have a 19 year old son, and am not averse to offering him advice too! I didn’t do particularly well at school and as I ‘ve got older I’ve noticed that there are a great deal of clever but lazy people in life. It’s important for young people to realise that you don’t have to have PHD’s or Degrees dominating your CV to be successful. I’m not knocking those that do, but that path is not for everyone. If you work hard, respect people and take measured risks you can have a great life regardless.
Happy 2018 everyone, and if you want to, catch up with me in December 2018 and I will tell you how it went, good luck everyone!!