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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Garbage in, garbage out

That's an old acronym from the computer business you probably recognise.

It sprang to mind not in the context of the mountain of half-truths concocted by the G20 cronies to kid us they are doing anything as a result of their mutual back-slapping, but because of a nagging professional interest

I just keep asking myself if by any chance the recession will get rid of the mountains of sloth, ignorance and stupidity in the form of human garbage that infects the marketing industry.

I wonder about this in a spirit of hopeful, but not optimistic enquiry. Not optimistic because here is a typical example of what happens every day all over the world.

My Australian partner, Malcolm Auld, is one of the best known figures in the industry there. His book, Direct Marketing Made Easy is a required text. For twenty odd years he's been speaking (very entertainingly) all over the country and in much of South East Asia on the subject.

I've even shipped him over here a couple of times and stooped to stealing one or two of his better jokes. So here's what happened to him not long ago

He was asked by an organisation to tender for some work – quite a substantial series of projects. Let him tell the story.

"They wanted full costings, typical timelines and potential discounts (creative and print) for briefing all jobs at once.

We submitted a tender because we’re already doing a major job for them.

They ask us to a meeting to answer questions, which I confirmed by e-mail because I wanted to make sure they weren’t looking for credentials.

We get there and they point to the data projector for our presentation. I say, 'but you confirmed we were here to answer your questions – how long would you like me to speak about myself?'

There were 5 women there. The lady leading it was English. Her first question was: 'How long does it take you to get the reverse brief back to us, where you convert our brief into your creative brief?'

Apparently that’s the usual way she works - obviously spent too much time in big agency land and has been convinced by her agency that clients cannot write briefs."

(Incidentally, I've never heard of this reverse briefing crap. Obviously an ingenious new way of wasting time and money whilst trotting out another piece of pretentious jargon)

"Then the events manager wants to know what qualifications I have in direct marketing."

(That was the bit that got me. Here's one of the very best known direct marketers in Australia, who's written the book - and this silly cow's never heard of him.)

Mal goes on:

"Then they tell us that only one of them has even read our tender response, so can we elaborate on it as they haven’t had time to read it."

(Interesting. No time to do the one thing they should have done; plenty of time to demonstrate their idleness and ignorance in a meeting).

"Then when I ask why they are changing agencies, they tell us they haven’t decided if they want to change agencies. Yet 4 agencies were meeting with them that day to pitch their business.

None of them knew we were already working with them and it was their Director who recommended we be put on the list for the tender."

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? How did they all find enough time to attend a meeting but not enough to do five minutes' homework?

I might add that this business of "tendering" is absurd. You can't evaluate this stuff on price. You're not building a bloody motorway, you fools. Only the results matter. So a test is the easiest, cheapest and only sensible approach.

How do these people get jobs?

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