It’s been a year since I started this little blog. I was blogging for my former employer’s two company blogs when the ax there fell. What I’ve never gone into here was why I left the agency. Seeing as how it is relevant to work you may be doing for your own business, I think it’s high time I did.
I’ll be keeping out the names of companies not so much to protect them as myself – if people who made bad decisions get called out I’m not that concerned. If I get sued, however, I’ll be more than a little concerned.
We had a client who did on line learning, and they wanted a brand monitoring report. This is a competitive analysis looking at how a company is viewed in the media – news, video, social, etc. It’s the sort of thing that’s terribly useful once you bottom line what all of these mentions mean.
Among their competitors were two state universities. Now, it almost goes without saying that two major universities are going to have a LOT of media mentions. But since we were looking at them as direct competitors, it didn’t (and doesn’t) make sense to look at all of their press mentions – it only makes sense to look at how their product is mentioned. In this case, that would mean how their on line learning courses were covered and mentioned.
The client had wanted to hear all of the press mentions of these two Universities, but as I said, I felt this was unnecessary information and suggested we inform the client of that.
Let’s say you have a coffee shop. You’ll want to know how people write about your competitors like Starbuck’s, Coffee Plantation, and Seattle’s Best. You’ll also want to know how they react to McDonald’s, now that they sell various coffee drinks too. But having the additional information about how people are writing about the McRib Sandwich, The Ronald McDonald House charity, and the opening of 100 new stores in China (which isn’t in your market anyway) does not relate to your product. Sure, people who become more familiar with McDonald’s may then go in and buy one of their coffees. But looking at the company as a whole, and from that trying to glean what people think of their coffee, is quite a stretch and defeats the purpose of doing the analysis in the first place.
If you look at a competitor with as large a brand identity as McDonald’s to see how you compare to them, you will loose. What’s important is how your product compares to theirs if they sell the same one.
Instead, a week later, I was in an office with two of my three managers (God help me, I had THREE managers!) informing me that my services would no longer be required.
It’s one of the major drawbacks of working for an ad agency, that what the client wants is rarely what they need, and that you don’t really tell them this if their checks are all clearing. Since then I’ve gone to work at a stable company with a clear, strong on line objective. More importantly, they understand the difference between what a competitor does, and what a competitor does that effects us.