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Holistic approach to marketing services gains approval among clients

If you are satisfied with a service provided, why not try and get more services from the same agency. This is the reasoning behind the choice made by many clients who receive a well-rounded approach: media leasing, media planning, PR, digital, social networks, creative, etc.

Bojana Aleksić is one of the best connoisseurs of advertising in the region. As the Account Director at Direct Media, she leads a team of over 40 marketing professionals who daily oversee communication and media budgets of several dozen brands.

She started her professional career in air traffic as a flight controller – a profession requiring highly specific training in which safety and efficiency come first. However, Bojana swapped air traffic control for media, and successfully applied the acquired efficiency skills in the new marketing environment. In 20 years of working in Direct Media, she has gone through the entire system, getting to know every segment of the agency’s work. She has been part of campaigns for the biggest brands and thus gained knowledge in different industries: FMCG, telecommunications…

Bojana and her teams of account managers are credited with turning the budgets of Direct’s clients into measurable results. Most of them have worked in the agency for years.

Media Marketing: What can make someone change their profession and start working in a media agency after investing a lot of time and effort in becoming an air traffic controller?

Bojana Aleksić: We’re often not even aware of the background to our decisions when we are young, but I know, for example, that I’ve never shunned any responsibility and this has served as an incentive in both professions. At the time, I found it exciting and responsible to manage clients’ advertising budgets worth millions. Although these jobs may seem completely different, as an account director you also need to coordinate, monitor, manage a type of traffic – only in communication and this can be very dynamic in the media. Certainly, the then image of the marketing profession made me decide faster. Just like IT today, media and advertising agencies were considered to be an up-and-coming industry at the time they were developed. Even today, jobs and positions in digital marketing are among the most sought after in the world.

Media Marketing: During the twenty years you have spent in Direct Media, you have gone through the whole system, getting to know every segment of the work. What was the most exciting part of the journey to the position of Account Director, and what was the biggest challenge you faced?

Bojana Aleksić: No two days are exactly the same in this business. The most exciting are pitches and the uncertainty they bring. We think of a pitch as an opportunity for team building because working together, we learn a lot about each other, which is crucial if you want your team to achieve results. The most beautiful moment is when a reward for the effort put in comes at the end. At the same time the most difficult thing is when the reward doesn’t come. I still think that motivating people is one of the most complex managerial skills. This is why we tell stories, show support and encouragement and use constructive criticism when needed. We are not pushing challenges under the rug, we are dealing with them.

Media Marketing: How much have agencies changed in those twenty years?

Bojana Aleksić: People have changed while keeping abreast with the development in their field. The skills required today in the marketing industry are far more complex than those that were relevant only five years ago. Just think of the number of reports that are prepared on a daily basis for different advertising platforms, not to mention analytics and data reading. New technology-based skills are required. Agencies have changed periodically, first they became professional and, I can say without false modesty, they followed our example. As the market developed, so did the agencies introduce new services, and we did pioneer new services in Serbia and quite often in the region, too. Twenty years ago, agencies were narrowly specialized, and today clients again need a 360° approach in one place, which is in my opinion a key change not exclusively technological in its nature.

Media Marketing: And has the brands’ perception of agencies changed, what do brands now require the most from an agency? What is most valued?

Bojana Aleksić: We have clients with whom we’ve been working for 17 or 18 years and if I had to single out only one thing that they value the most, it would be the result, or quality. Proactivity, which the agency shows towards understanding their work, is in the second place. The magic binding all this lies in interpersonal relationships and mutual trust, but business is business and no one will keep an agency just because of the great relationship if the results of the campaigns are not good. Clients have changed the most in terms of wanting to simplify their daily work, and that’s the 360° approach I’ve mentioned. If you are content with a service provided by an agency, why not try and get more services from the same agency. This is the reasoning of many clients with whom a rounded approach is taken: media leasing, media planning, PR, digital, social networks, creative, etc.

Media Marketing: You lead a team of 40 marketing professionals who take care of the communication and media budgets of several dozen brands every day, and you are credited with turning those budgets into measurable results. Results are the reason why most clients remain loyal to Direct for many years. Who are the people working in Direct account sector?

Bojana Aleksić: First of all, Direct’s account team is made up of good people with a passion for their work. Anyone familiar with the situation in the market will tell you that our people are professionals and experts in their field and the most sought after by HR agencies and competitors. We consider this the greatest compliment because education and the experience employees get in Direct Media are an obvious benchmark for quality in the advertising market. The Direct’s account sector has its senior part or ‘old hands’ without whom our pitches and strategies would not be this successful, but also a lot of young competent people who are constantly learning from new experiences. This exchange of energy, the constant inflow of young talented people and the high percentage of seniors in the system, make us strong and, at the same time, vital.

Media Marketing: According to the Marketing Network research, Direct Media was named the no. 1 agency last year. How did you achieve such a result?

Bojana Aleksić: The success put a sincere smile of relief on our faces. Although 2020 was not an easy year for anyone, we realized that we are in a time of adjustment, and quick decisions must be made. The Chinese philosophy says: make a decision today and tomorrow you’ll have time to change it if it proves to be a mistake; however, you won’t be able to change anything if you keep postponing decisions. At the same time, it was fortunate that our clients realized that they had to continue advertising. They made this decision after the initial standstill period and at lightning speed. At the end of the day, the financial stability of the system prevails in every crisis, but there is also the past experience and years of work – the essential stability of the system that can already be considered proverbial in the case of Direct Media.

Media Marketing: As the Account Director of one of the largest agencies you have a perfect viewpoint of the regional advertising market. What do you think of it? How far are we behind the international practice?

Bojana Aleksić: The region, with a total media investment of about EUR 835 million annually, does not make up even 1% of the global advertising market. Although digital has taken precedence in the world, in our country television is still the dominant medium, so you could say we are lagging. However, I’ve never fully agreed with this. When it comes to trends and expertise, and knowledge exchange, the whole world has become one market where information exchange is easy and fast. If you want to learn and apply what you’ve learned, you can. This is the case with VIDA addressable advertising, which took off in this market shortly after its global premiere. True, not all markets are equally developed, there is a lack of quality research in some of the countries, but I repeat, the technology will keep pushing us to develop where necessary.

Media Marketing: Can Direct Media today provide its customers with the services that customers receive in countries with more developed advertising industries?Bojana Aleksić: Absolutely, but it’s not new. What is new for certain clients is that we are competitive, and offer a wide range of services as a full-service agency. We often receive an assessment from the brand headquarters, which is in one of the countries of the European Union, that our solution was chosen as the best. It is then a real celebration, it lifts our spirits and encourages us to be even better. Marketing today knows no boundaries. Digital, digital creative, programmatic advertising… provide huge opportunities to work outside the region, which we have already embraced as a new source of growth, revenue and client portfolio.

Media Marketing: Have you ever regretted leaving a very dynamic flight controller job?

Bojana Aleksić: In the current business landscape, working on accounts of several dozen clients, it is so dynamic that even the busiest air traffic controller would get tired😊

Media Marketing: Knowing our Direction: What is your outlook for the future of advertising?

Bojana Aleksić: The technological revolution, in which we take part, is becoming a golden age for anyone eager to learn, and I can see the formation of a critical mass of technologically educated marketers in the near future, which gives me great joy. We are due for the automation of marketing, greater connection or merging of agencies with technology companies and much faster and more purposeful data analysis. When talking about the relationship with clients, we’ll have to understand their needs in a new, more complex way thanks to insights we get from data analysis.

Anyone doubting the future of marketing and advertising agencies can now rest assured that we remain faithful companions and support for businesses – much stronger than before.