Lesson 3: There’s no excuse for shortcomings – Turn them into advantage
By: Ana Kovačević, Group Account Manger, Direct Media Montenegro
To overcome the shortcomings, you first have to be aware of them.
When I started working at Direct Media, it was quite complicated to explain to someone on the side the situation in the Montenegrin media market. Presenting the smallest and least developed market in the region, I had the feeling that I’m drawing clients, but also colleagues from other regional offices, decades into the past in terms of data deficiencies, the manner in which research is conducted and, consequently, the advertising itself.
Since no agency exists separated from the market, so we too saw the deficiencies of the market as our own. And then, over the next ten years, we have been a witness and a participant in the development of Montenegrin advertising scene, and us as an agency.
First, it was necessary to apply the basic postulate of our profession – that every proposal that comes from the agency be based on grounded insights, which were nonexistent in our market. I remember the moment when we said: “OK then, let’s make our own research. Let’s push the measuring of viewership, readership, listenership of the media, analyses of the attitudes and behavior of consumers, monitoring of advertising in key media …” It was a huge investment, because we often financed these research on our own – but the investments returned many times over. Both to us, and to the market.
At the same time, when you wear the label of a local agency that does not belong to a global network, we often had to answer the question how a local agency can keep up with foreign agencies when it comes to access to tools and research. It’s a disadvantage – many said – but not for long. Belgrade office was the first to start developing proprietary tools, immediately after its foundation, and the association with the regional agency enabled our office access to the tools and the know-how. Combining them with the data and knowledge of the situation on the local market, as well as creating our own tools, we reached success.
Today it might sound funny, but for us, at that time, it was a success when we could proudly announce to our client that we have an insight into consumer behavior, and their relationship to paid media, and how we come to the optimal and most effective media mix. Now we cross the data on attributes, values and personalities of brands, their relative position in the correlation maps compared to other brands in the category, we use data from all available sources … We are taking all measures in order to reach the most relevant decisions for investments of our clients in advertising. We succeed in that because over the years we implemented our in-house tools on the home market, behind which there are realistic databases with information from our market. The tools are based on field research conducted here, in Montenegro. They are relevant to our concrete market. And that was a shortcoming that we turned into an advantage, and at the same time it is our answer to that question of how a local agency network can “do everything like the foreign ones, and it can do it even better.”
However, the market itself is still underdeveloped and under-educated. Often it is not ready to replace excuses, justifications and concrete disadvantages with concrete solutions. When I started working at the Direct Media agency, I joined a team that consisted of three people. Back then I was years of work and knowledge behind them, and all of my previously acquired knowledge was but a first step into the world of advertising. And the most important thing to do was to look myself in the mirror and recognize the shortcoming. But education was not the most essential thing that I took that first year. More important were the unselfishness in sharing knowledge, willingness of people to come to my aid, infinite understanding and patience of colleagues, as well as their focus on my development and success during seminars and training sessions that followed. We continued sailing the Montenegrin media scene as a quartet. Today, when we are fifteen strong, I often think about whether it was a successful agency that created a successful team, recognizing the deficiencies and eliminating them along the way, or was it us, working on personal shortcomings, who educated successful teams and brought the agency to a leading position.
This is exactly what lacks in the market: more proactivity, understanding and support. That’s what we all need as a single team of different players in the market game, bust still a team that plays – we hope – for the win of the industry.