Magazine article Marketing

What the Clients All Want?

Magazine article Marketing

What the Clients All Want?

Article excerpt

Miles Young, managing director of Ogilvy & Mather Direct, shakes his head sadly. It's not his organisation that's at fault, it's the gap between what the West sees as glasnost and reality.

We are talking of Eastern Bloc markets. There had been rumours that it was difficult to talk turkey, since negotiators had a tendency to change from one meeting to another.

Young's view is the opposite. For all the talk of openness, he says, of winds of change, it is exactly the same people on the other side of the desk as before perestroika.

He points to a chart of direct marketing development in the EC. It is split into four, headed by countries like Germany, the UK and France, of sufficient size to try out new techniques.

Then there are the smaller ones, like Holland, Belgium and Denmark, who can adapt these techniques. At the other end of the scale are countries with fewer people, like Portugal, Greece and Ireland - the small late developers - and those like Italy and Spain - the large late developers.

He sticks his finger on the gap below the chart. "That's where the Eastern Bloc comes," he says. "The infrastructure just isn't there. It's going to take time. A long time."

It's the only pessimistic note in what is an upbeat discussion on European direct marketing networks. Clients, global clients,are on the increase, and since O&M Direct is probably one of the oldest network systems around it is picking up business both by referral and because of its experience.

That is not to say that running an international campaign is made that much easier by experience. "My job is to match the centre," says Young. "I ensure that our offering around the world meets the needs of clients, like the British Tourist Authority, and falls also into a localised plan."

For clients at a local level will always have different needs. To the American tourist, for instance, Britain has heritage appeal. They want to visit the theatre, too. The Germans and Swedes, meanwhile, come over for the countryside, the wild scenery, and are more interested in touring Scotland and Wales by car. So you can't have the same communications strategy.

What has developed at O&M Direct is an organisational structure allowing any of around 20 worldwide management supervisors, of whom Young is one, to handle such projects internationally. They will also, hopefully, deal with an equivalent international decision maker on the client side.

In fact, in talking of such beings, "the client need came first," says Young. "As clients developed in different markets so they started to develop a two-tier or Janus-type structure.

"They developed local operations in local markets, but retained the same type of management structure to keep them under control. Those clients are looking to their communications for two things: local excellence and international consistency and benefits. But they had 10 different markets producing 10 different strategies with 10 different executions. We would seek to provide a cohesive strategy, and local strategy according to local needs."

Yet this can be one of the toughest parts of international marketing. How do you ensure that a cohesive strategy does not come unstuck at a local level? Robin Lewis, client services director at McCann Communications, hopes to have an alternative solution.

"It is important that the client representatives in Germany or elsewhere feels comfortable with the agency they are working with on the ground," he says. "At McCanns, we tend to say, this is what our client is about, these are his objectives and strategy, don't translate it -just go away and think about it and how to make it work."

The danger is that a client will look at a campaign and turn his nose up because it wasn't invented in his country. Lewis has a counter argument. "We tell them this was not invented here but improved here," he says. …

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