April 13, 2010
 

Deirelein on Business, Part 3: Some Advice.

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Edited by Paul McEnany

Earlier this week Tom got back into his "business uniform"! Part 3 of this conversation sums up the business side of Tom's and Tim's chat. This last portion focuses on asking what advice he could give to each us on our own personal careers.

Tom, on behalf of our readers and each of us personally, the very best of wishes to you and to your family for blue skies ahead!

Tim: Let's sum up what we've covered on social media. What's the one question individuals and marketers should ask themselves when it comes to using the Blogosphere?

Tom: How many people have read a non-friend's blog in the last 30 days?

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Tim: Interesting. When you refer to non-friend blog, are you referring to a blog that touts a philosophy or a point of view that is different or in disagreement with yours or are you referring to something else?

Tom: No, I mean literally a non-friend. Do you go out there and read people's blogs? Do you read specific subject matter blogs? Do you go track political blogs? Do you go track sports blogs? That's a lot different than your friend when writes a blog. They'll send you an email and said, "Hey, why don't you check in on my blog every once in awhile?" Because let's face it. There's plenty of people out there that have blogs.

Tim: I think what you're referring to is being "conversational media" these days. People reading ideas that agree with their own.

Tom: Right. That's not using the blogosphere as a research tool. Be aware of what's being said about what people who have different points of view than your own. If you don't know that that in your heart of hearts, then you don't know the direction that you, you the brand or your brand should sell yourself or the brands you work on. That's the baseline. What real estate do you own in someone's mind right now and don't own.

Tim: Okay, now about Wall Street-ification of Madison Avenue. Today, CFOs are running companies and focusing on the quantitative side of the business and ignoring the qualitative.

Tom: That's not entirely true. In most well-run companies there are three very distinct roles and responsibilities, the CFO, the CEO and the COO. CFOs speak the language of business. They speak the language that the investor and the board like to hear but that doesn't necessarily mean that they should run the business properly. That's the job of the CEO. CEO's have a clear strategy and vision for the company. And then there's the role of the COO. COO's should make sure that things are running not only effectively, but as efficiently as possible. To do their roles most successfully they should know who the consumers are, where to find them, and what messages are going resonate. The sales team needs to know how to close the deal. The manufacturer needs to know how to make a product as top quality as they can or whatever the strategy is.

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Tim: No one will argue with that.

Tom: But, in terms of the marketeer in the board room, they do need to be able to talk about pure metrics, numbers, and it can't just be, "I think that that was a good spend. I think that us sponsoring NASCAR was a good thing." No. How much did you spend on NASCAR and what is the return on that investment? And you have to be able to speak to that.

Tim: But how does that relate to individuals?

Tom: Well, it's easier said than done. I think you need to put yourself in each of their positions. If you disagree with them, put yourself in their position just as it relates to them and then see if you would make a different decision if you were them personally and at least for a moment, don't think about how it relates to you personally. That's how you're going to begin seeing the larger picture which is key to success.

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Tim: You now have about 80 percent of the major marketing companies, media companies and publishing companies, the three silos, if you will, publicly owned. Who's the real client there? Is it Wall Street or is it the company that you are working for? If you are Dynamic Logic or if you are any company, such as an agency servicing McDonald's, who is the real client? Is it McDonald's or is it the institutional investors?

Tom: I think any company that makes the mistake of servicing Wall Street and bottom line numbers only will have lost focus from their client and will eventually lose. I think the only winners in any game are the ones that are intensely focused on their clients.

Tim: How do you balance these pressures?

Tom: I don't want to get all "field of dreams" on you. You definitely have to make your numbers. There are definitely pressures in any business to make sure that you're making your numbers, but the single best way to make sure that you're making your numbers is to run your business well. And to me, running your business well means only one thing, taking care of your clients, both existing and potential.

Tim: Let's talk about just getting into business. Given the financial side has definitely crept into advertising, which was once entirely creative-based, what about someone coming out of college who's just entering the business. What do you tell those people today based on your knowledge and where things are going?

Tom: I mean the best knowledge that I can give to someone entering this industry or any industry is to immerse yourself. By that I mean, stay on top of all of the key trends, issues, transactions, and goings-on. Come into work an hour early or stay an hour later each day and do nothing more than read the trade journals and ask a series of "why" questions.

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Tim: What should they be reading?

Tom: You should know what's going on in AdAge. You should know what's going on in AdWeek, Media Week, Brandweek. If the question "why" doesn't come up when you're reading those four periodicals then that's not an industry you want to be a part of. That's how you understand really how your business is really operation. If you do, you have to really enjoy being a part of that industry.

Tim: That's interesting. What else?

Tom: The second piece of advice I would give is to network. Go to as many events and industry outings as possible because if you're going stay in any industry for any period of time, you'll eventually want to group with people with whom you're networked into. You can't be an expert in all areas. So you're going want a group of other people that can be mentors to you as sources of advice. So those are my two bits of advice. Study and read voraciously through the trade journals and then number two is network.

Tim: Boil it down to one word.

Tom: It boils down to two words, "read" and "network".

Tim: But if you had to pick one word what would it be?

Tom: Then I would have to pick, "read". If you're going to be part of an industry, you have to know what's going on. You have to be knowledgeable. It's the only way you're going to learn how to read between the lines.

Tim: You're right. I really appreciate this, Tom.

Tom: The pleasure was all mine. Take care, Timmy.

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Paul McEnany is a new media and marketing strategist at Levenson and Hill in Dallas, TX and works with clients in business categories ranging from logistics to QSR. He is a contributor to Beyond Madison Avenue, one of the most popular marketing blogs as well as his own personal marketing blog, Hee Haw Marketing. A budding activist, he can be reached at paul.mcenany@gmail.com.

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