Credit Crunch Illuminates Skills Crunch

From Hungry To Order Taker

From Hungry To Order Taker

Letter From Jordan

Not a credit crunch – more a skills crunch

I was recently asked by a Jordanian client what affect in my opinion has the current economic climate had on the communications business in Jordan.  Well, frankly the impact here is the same as the impact in all markets around the world – firstly, to set the scene, clients in Jordan naturally have become more demanding in the respect of insisting on more effective communications spend.  Yes, more bang for their buck!

What this means to us in ‘agency-land’ is that we need to better understand how communication affects business to ensure that the communication we create is more efficient in generating a behaviour change (whether that is attitudinal behaviour or purchase behaviour).

Junior and even middle-ranking staff in most agencies in Jordan have grown up through the ranks during the boom times.  Frankly, both clients and agencies have become too comfortable and certainly less commercial in their thinking.  Rarely have this generation had to ask the question: “will this piece of communication sell product”?

During recessionary periods clients seek business counciling from their agencies not just  communication advice.  This role for the agency means that client service teams need to better understand the world of business.  They also need to better understand how the various communication tools (advertising, P.R, digital, etc…) work together to create the most effective ‘brand call to action’.

By default account service teams need to be communication generalists – having a holistic view of business and communications.  They need to better understand how ATL and BTL work together on the path to purchase – for example how traditional mass advertising can drive prospects online to learn more about a brand, product or service – they also need to clearly understand that P.R, Word of Mouth and Experiential are all now mainstream, not niche communication tools.  An example being that mass communication should always work in parallel with a P.R strategy – P.R delivers a subtle foundation of brand credibility  underpinning all mainstream communication.  The discipline of P.R can also be used both on and offline.

So, going back to the question that was asked.  How has the current environment affected the communications industry in Jordan?  In my view I am seeing a lack of skill sets that allow agency staff to sit at ‘the top table’ when clients are discussing business issues.

If we are not there when these discussions take place, unfortunately clients will make budget and communication decisions (in our absence) which means that agencies become purely a tool for creative execution.  This is not where we want to be.  Creative communications agencies should also remember that it was during the last downturn when management consultants appeared in the world of communications and started to erode the turf of agencies. They positioned themselves as ‘strategic partners’ of clients.  They claimed to better understand both the world of business and consumers!  Do we really want this again.  Of course not, but, it does means that we need to either better train our existing staff or find recruits that truly understand the broad suite of both on and off line tools that we have to hand and how they most effectively work together to deliver business advantage for our clients.

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~ by rtymerej on September 23, 2009.

 
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