So at the moment I'm currently like over 2 million other people in the UK - I'm unemployed.
Who knows for how long? There are various things floating around that may turn into something tomorrow, next week or in a few months. They may turn into zero. As it is, I'm very philosophical about it all and am using it as an education. How cliche of me.
When you're working in agencyland you become consumed by all the things going on in the industry. What I've decided is that I'm going to be a human being for a while. I've decided not to blog as much, not to tweet as much and to look at the industry from the outside as opposed to being part of it from the inside. Planning is about people, and I know it's a shock to some out there - but not all people work in agencies, give a toss about agencies and really couldn't give a flying fuck which agency has just won the account for FMCG Newboy. (There - I've said it. Make yourself a coffee and think over that for a while.)
It's really interesting how your whole mentality changes when you're in this situation. All my life I've been employed, worked hard, studied hard and added value everywhere I've worked and my CV and recommendations reflect this. Of course, you don't take it personally - especially when you're a Planner. To the powers that be, you're a number. You're Profit or Loss. To improve your chances of being Profit then you need to work hard and be managed well in a business where you're valued. Sometimes this doesn't work out and you end up being the fall guy for the mistakes of others. In the great scheme of things, this means very little. (The recession will sort out the wheat from the chaff: the leaders who make good decisions will thrive and the leader that make bad decisions will flounder. Natural selection.)
Ironically, one of the things I have found very interesting is how being unemployed is similar to being a Planner.
When you're a Planner, you:
- Interrogate brand values;
- Look at TOV;
- Conduct SWOT analysis on the brand;
- Question how the brand is positioned vs its competitors;
- Question the target demographic;
- Look at how much the brand can participate in engagement;
- Question the pricepoint.
When you're looking for a job, you:
- Interrogate your values: What is my integrity telling me to do? Do I ignore my integrity for money? Is my PoL more important than my values?
- Look at TOV: Am I relaying what I'm all about in the correct manner? Do people really get what I'm all about? Do I change my TOV for different audiences or stand up for what I believe in?
- Conduct SWOT analysis: What am I good at? Where do I need to improve? In my next role, what will make me progress?
- Question brand positioning: Am I really the level I think I am? What about all the people taking pay cuts? Can I add value at that level?
- Question target demographic: Am I looking at the right people at the right agencies to speak to? Do I respect them? Do I think I can add value to them, and can they add value to me?
- Brand engagement: Do I schmooze with strangers more, or would I be lying to myself by doing that? Would they want to be part of a conversation with me when it's obvious I'm feeling around for a job? What benefits do they get out of a conversation with me?
- Pricepoint: Am I worth what I think I'm worth? Am I being arrogant by not working for free on a 'placement' when so many others are?
Going through these questions has only strengthened my resolve.
I used to work on an FMCG brand that was the victim of trying to offer itself to too many people. It reduced its pricepoint temporarily and sales went up. When they increased the prices again sales slumped. More sales promotions ensued and it's now caught in a vicious circle of perpetually being on an offer of some kind. It lowered it's sights and is suffering. At this point, I don't want to do that. I believe in my product too much to put myself on sale.
What's more important to me, however, is that every good brand should benefit the people buying it.
If it is marketed well, fine. If it has a good TOV, fine. But, the proof is in the pudding. If the product is good, lives up to what it stands for, offers the consumer a benefit - then people will buy it. I wonder who will the consumer of my product? Time will tell...