What are the growth plans for your business?
The media landscape is being changed hugely, by technology predominantly, so there are different ways people consume media. As a consequence of the change, lots of opportunities are emerging in terms of the roles Mindshare can play.
Over the past 15 years media agencies have gone through iterations of having to develop search products – to work with Google – and with the development of opportunities to work in mobile, you’re seeing a greater requirement to understand the applications you need to build for mobile phones.
Also you have a landscape that is constantly being affected by data. Technology is creating a lot more understanding of the ways people consume media, and therefore products and services are being developed to understand all that information and figure out which bits of that data are valuable for clients and their marketing strategy.
This landscape is an opportunity for growth and what we’re trying do is identify what our clients need as services, where are they not being fulfilled, and how we can develop products to do that. But also we’re trying to attract clients that don’t work with us today and thinking about how we are showing that a media agency can evolve to make sense of this rapidly changing landscape.
How do you cope with the need to recruit new talent?
Media’s going through quite a big re-engineering. The business’s main skills used to be in handling client relationships and working with people, which obviously had a trading aspect and a media planning aspect. Now, because the landscape has got these new features in it, we are having to recruit a far more diverse base of talent – both in terms of its craft skill and academic background. I’m hiring a larger proportion of people from mathematical, statistical and analytical backgrounds. We’ve also seen a diversification of the types of talent specialists we need.
One of the big challenges for the organisation is how we bring all those kinds of people together to deliver a coherent story back to our clients.
What are the biggest cash-flow challenges your company has faced?
As an agent, a fundamental part of what we do is trading media activity on behalf of the clients working with media partners. To a certain extent we have very robust financial processes to enable us both to collect that budget from the client and pay it back out to the media partners from which we secure media. Any agent in any sphere of industry needs to make sure if it’s buying on somebody else’s behalf then those processes need to be as robust as they possibly can be.
How important is technology when managing growth in your business?
Our business is being led by technological change. In order to move more real-time information about how media is affecting our clients’ campaigns, to allow us to optimise the opportunity in real time on behalf of those clients, we have to make sure information is flowing around our business more effectively. We think an organisation that builds its own tools and technology will better fulfil that function and give people around the business a more consistent view of everything.
What is your biggest challenge?
I’d say it’s an opportunity, because there is a myriad of things emerging on a regular basis and obviously you can’t do everything well. You have to focus on what opportunities you should prioritise and where you invest time or money to develop a service.
How entrepreneurial do you feel UK businesses are compared to other countries?
I actually think they’re hugely entrepreneurial. I think while it seems like a slow trickle, a lot of that comes from younger communities and there are some amazing entrepreneurial initiatives going on at the moment. I was at an event recently called Pitch at the Palace, which is supported by the Duke of York, to try to get investors and wider business networks to get behind technology entrepreneurs in this country.
But I think probably the bigger question is how do we get established business to support entrepreneurial and growing businesses. You can see that’s starting to happen more with the government’s Tech City initiative; you can see it where private businesses are increasingly building venture operations in places such as Shoreditch. Google Ventures is a very good example – supporting startup businesses by giving them space, a networking opportunity and determining whether or not it wants to make investment funding.