Goodstuff is described on its website as the fastest growing independent media agency. Partner Simon Wilden joined in 2006 to develop the agency’s data and insight offering. We caught up with him to find out what his average day looks like.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m one of ten partners at Goodstuff, a full-service media planning and buying agency.
Each partner is responsible for a different client team. One of my core responsibilities is running our direct-to-consumer (DTC) client base, this can take anywhere between 30% and 70% of my time depending on what else is on the agenda that week.
I’m also part of new business efforts, focused on creating efficient, effective, well-built media plans, which complement a client’s media strategy with broader thinking and ideas. Over the last six months, I’ve also spent a lot of my time focused on our data product, utilising state of the art data insights to make our clients’ campaigns perform better for them.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
In the short-term, my priority has been team management. Working from home is a small adjustment for some, for others it can mean isolating in a six-person house-share with people they potentially don’t know very well. So in the first instance I’ve spent more time getting in touch with my team to make sure they are alright and then making sure they’re okay with client workload.
Lockdown has so far had a limited impact on the new business element of my role. We still have a lot of clients looking for agency support and often those conversations begin three to six months in advance of planned activity – especially if the brand is new to the market. In addition, we’re seeing changes to client plans and it’s my role to support the team while managing client media negotiations.
At Goodstuff, we’ve introduced an agency favourite Media Thursday to keep the team socially connected, afterall Thursday is the new Friday in the media industry. The team has also continued with the bigger social events by using tech in inventive ways to stay connected and have fun. The biggest being an 80-strong fancy dress, digital bingo evening to raise money to support a bar near our office – one of our designers even created various bar-themed backdrops.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
Personally, I’ve returned to the phone. Video conferencing is great and has its place, but the phone is accessible to all (no matter their wifi speed) and provides flexibility when working remotely. For instance, I can take a walk while on a call and sit by the river – confidentiality permitting of course.
I will admit I was more of an email man before so while this isn’t the latest technology, using the phone a lot more is new for me.
Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?
Those who have completely pivoted their business offering – whether it’s a gin company that now makes hand sanitiser or a restaurant that’s launched a grocery and meal kit delivery service. It’s excellent to see versatility and adaptability especially from those that have moved their business to a consumer facing model. As someone who works largely with DTC brands, the uptake in delivery is a massive positive and for those dealing directly with their manufacturers, they are finding this model has many benefits.
What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
We’ve been sharing regular market knowledge and consumer sentiment insight updates – we used to send on a monthly/quarterly basis but we now share weekly to help track changing consumer patterns.
We know that TV viewing is up while revenue is down, and in turn inventory costs are also down. As an independent agency, we don’t have long-term deals that require us to split spend in a certain way, so we can take advantage of the market conditions on behalf of our brands. We still have clients on air, and a number of them are paying 40-70% less than usual. I’m motivated to find good opportunities for our DTC brands to thrive, which in turn helps funnel revenue through to media owners and fund quality journalism. We’re lucky to have a diverse client base with quite a few brands that are still keen to advertise.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
There have been some interesting pivots from companies that weren’t able to operate in the way they normally would. Some of our clients are taking an advisory route, providing content and platforms to help others. For example one of our clients which would usually provide a service to small businesses , set up a small business helpline offering financial, legal, and HR advice before the UK Government announced its support for SMEs. This flip to become helpful to its clientbase is a great way for the company to deliver on its purpose.
There are a whole raft of initiatives, whether content or product led, that are helping consumers to have a better experience during lockdown and it is fantastic to see brands understand how they can genuinely help people at this time – and act on it.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
Now, more than ever it is about striking a balance between the short and long-term thinking. There is the temptation to be totally consumed by the here and now but rather than just taking advantage of the situation, the focus should be on balance, – especially as the short-term situation is incredibly dynamic – but ultimately brands and businesses need a longer-term vision.
Not all brands are experiencing a downturn, many DTC brands have been lucky enough to generate additional income from the new demand for their service or product. That revenue can be used in part to test marketing activities, we’ve seen brands who’ve never used TV before turn to the platform to access the current influx of viewers. With costs down and audiences up now is a good time for marketers to find out if there is potential in the medium for their brand. For this we are reliant on TVSquared – the global leader in digital and linear TV attribution – which is at the heart of helping us understand why, how, and where brands can carry on spending to generate awareness and results.
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?
In practice it looks like scenario planning. A mindset towards minimised costs doesn’t help anyone, the key is in choosing your most viable option at that particular point in time. At Goodstuff we’ve started to think about next year and we have what we hope is a reasonably reliable forecast. It’s pessimistic for this year, however it hopefully means we can take everyone with us on the journey and take us to the point where we can focus on getting back to the growth levels Goodstuff has experienced throughout the last 10 years.