Pitches, job moves and Brexit

In a presentation by a direct marketing agency a few years ago, the managing director said that the biggest challenge for the industry was marketers moving jobs every three years. He did not explain where he got the figure from, but on personal experience it just about lines up.

His point was this. A new marketing director will not just bring a new way of doing things. Often they will feel obligated to rip up the work of their predecessor, put a fresh stamp on things… And with that you have a new business pitch.

All very well. But across the board it brings short-termism. And it is not just marketing. Governments change frequently and reshuffles occur frequently within their timespan, too. So with this in mind, it was interesting to read a recent report in UK advertising journal Campaign about the effect of Brexit on marketing.

More uncertainty, fewer pitches

Research by the AAR found a 14.3 per cent fall in pitches between July and September this year, compared with the same period in 2015.

Brand advertising was especially badly hit – suffering an 18.8 per cent fall – but other areas included digital and direct marketing both showed a drop of around 12.5 per cent.

Whether you are making TV advertising campaigns for Christmas or 500 pieces of content for a technology brand, this can only be a good thing.

If your market share is falling and you feel your marketing is no longer working, then you’d be justified in calling a pitch. But change for its own sake is rarely a good thing. Moving business often means you lose a wealth of experience with regard to your company, market and brand.

Other issues

The decrease in pitch activity comes alongside a predicted drop in planned marketing budgets for the next few years.

Referendum repercussions are still shaking up UK life and industry across the board. Evidence for this – as if any more were needed – came earlier this week with the publication of the Bellwether Report, the quarterly gaze into the crystal ball on behalf of the country’s marketing sector.

Unsurprisingly, it makes difficult reading. Prior to the referendum, the same influential report had forecast marketing budget growth of around 3.3 per cent and 2.7 per cent for 2016 and 2017 respectively. Now this has been revised down to 0.2 per cent for 2016 and -1.3 per cent for 2017.

Simply put, recessions have historically prompted the marketing sector to learn new tricks or perform the same tasks with fewer people. The question is whether agencies will go for job cuts this time or try new things. It seems the latter could be on the cards, with talk of a more “performance-driven approach”.

Uncertainty, it seems, will make people stick to their guns – albeit against their wishes. The question is whether marketers will try to get their old agencies to learn new tricks.

Pitches, job moves and Brexit is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.