Positioned as an answer to clients’ real business problems, Marks doesn’t sell advertising services, but finds marketing solutions through differentiating and providing efficient communication solutions. Marks provides leading edge marketing and business consultancy, positioning strategy services and communication, fostering simplicity. BR talked with Mia Munteanu, client service director, about the agency’s 2018, the Romanian marcomm industry and also what lies ahead for 2019.
By Romanita Oprea
How was 2018 for the agency?
Level up! It was an upgrade and it included a lot of involvement in developing our internal communication processes. Our goal: fewer emails, more one-on-one interaction. Fewer emails in your inbox means a better knowledge of the implementation steps for the entire team, regardless of their experience or the project they’re working on, and also a detailed knowledge of how the client’s business works.
Marks stands for Simplified Marketing, and this means a constant evaluation of the resources we have and that we can optimize: more with less. More ideas, fewer feedback loops, more completed projects, fewer conversations and delegating tasks to others.
Constructive feedback, internal evaluations, balancing expectations within the teams and between the teams. 2018 was the year when we learned that the outside results are influenced by how the inside works, so investing in your own team was a mandatory framework.
What was the situation like for pitches?
Our stance on pitches remains a firm one, from the time we were just a start-up: we only accept pitches that arrive following a direct recommendation and we refuse the companies that do not know why they are writing to us and who we are. Surprisingly, we still receive such requests, from companies that only wish to fill in the mandatory agencies list that they need for the acquisition process. In 2018, we only participated in 2 pitches, from companies that knew our projects, followed our results and understood what kind of team they were looking for.
How would you characterize the local advertising industry in 2018 in terms of budgets, campaigns, creativity, etc.?
Every time AdWeek arrives in the agency’s mail and I read it, I feel like we’re still in the Stone Age.
What were the most important changes & novelties in the agency in 2018 and how did they come to happen?
The Client Service department took over the social media project coordination, internal trainings for new skills in content writing, content development, content strategy and implementing campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I noticed that we wasted a lot of time and resources in transitioning from the creative concept and implementation to adapting it for social media. One account was being managed by different project managers, which meant going over the brief again, at least 3 times more internally, doubling or tripling meetings between departments or with the client. Most of the time the social media implementation looked different from the starting point of the campaign.
At the same time, the delivery rate in social media grows, while ATL decreases, less TV and radio productions, less campaigns for mainstream audiences, more productions for online and more messages for niche audiences.
What were the biggest campaigns you worked on?
The size of the campaign is not given by the budget nowadays, but rather by the time you dedicate for the implementation stage, and the biggest campaigns we had in 2018 were the ones that were also implemented in digital, from dedicated platforms to development in social media, where optimizations, reports and sometimes audiences can change from one day to the next.
What were the campaigns you admired in the local industry and why?
Locally, “Bucurestiul Intreprinzator” from BT. It’s real, it’s with people that change the city they live in for real. I discovered initiatives I never knew of.
What trends did you notice on the local market?
Content is the new era: Content marketing is a tool for all types of businesses, as it fuels all digital channels. It is becoming essential. Digital experiences, as well, as the technology evolves, AI could be a wonderful tool in the hands of advertisers.
Audio more and more: Podcasts, audiobooks more than ever. We lack the time and patience to read texts or long materials, and the download number for audiobooks is on the rise. Now I am connected to 5 podcasts that I constantly follow (at least!), and new episodes are released incredibly quickly. 2 hours per day are dedicated to listening.
Collaborative projects: Freelancers that work together, agencies that externalize a part of the resources towards extremely specialized people who gained certain skills, professionals from completely different industries who generate new ideas and projects.
Connection: We are more and more technologically connected, but less and less connected to ourselves and to those around us. We search for communities to belong to, or we shape communities around people who are similar to us. Private events, late meet-ups, study groups, involvement in forum conversations linked to communities. We are searching for a real connection, more than ever.
What do you wish for 2019 from this point of view?
Most sought after #hardskills in 2019 – cloud computing, artificial intelligence, video editing, social media. Most sought after #softskills: creativity, empathy, communication, time management. We are more and more connected to tech and less connected to our inner compass, how we manage to navigate between tabs and keep the information in the cloud and not our head in the clouds, that’s a real challenge. I wish for less notifications, and more real connections with our clients and partners.
What do you wish for the local industry this year?
More local gatherings and to experience exchange between agencies.