Diversify, Consolidate, Rinse and Repeat

Whilst talking to my business partner about 2020, we didn’t discuss the negatives. We felt those were dealt with on a regular basis throughout the year and all that had to be said for uncertainty, loss and looming recession has been said then and there. 

Instead our conversation went on to discuss positive outcomes, some of which were unexpected. 

One of those was consolidation. We went through a few such events in the life of the company and whilst chatting we realise that consolidation that is done on one’s own accord is a gentle one. You tie up a loose end here and cut something there. Few small changes with an equally small effect. 

Once in a while, you are hit by a type of 2020 year – where the opposite happens: You cut everything whilst looking for bits that are crucial to make the company viable. 

As a business we were already running fairly lean operations but where we were over investing in the last few years was in the tech. 

We had a lot of headroom in terms of algorithms that we tested and some machine learning advancements but we were moving with the market which still operated in the traditional way. This meant that a human touch was overriding the tech. People were more important than software, whiteboards could be used to register who is working and what and how each client should be managed.

Then the lockdown came. Whiteboards move to google sheets and meetings to Hangouts and Team. 

All the monitoring and pacing algorithms now took priority over everything else. It wasn’t just about new revenues but managing the revenues we had, in a highly volatile environment. We spend 6 weeks rapidly implementing what we worked on over the years to make it more manageable for ourselves. 

During lockdown, footfall fluctuated. The patterns on how people moved and therefore how posters were viewed was changing., 

Campaigns sold based on the number of people became a great alternative to some of the marketers, but the challenge was: How do we predict the budget spend? 

Invest too little and your presence will not be significant to move the needle. Invest too much and risk waste. 

We looked into our own R&D to see what we can do to help marketers and more importantly empowered our own team. 

Over the following month we trained everyone in the company to assume the role of a campaign manager. The team collectively and individually took responsibility for the revenue and our clients’ campaign success. 

This in turn created a tight product, which is a whole category better than 12 months ago. ML and AI is now at the core of it – and if we can manage 68 campaigns with a team of 7, we know our clients can too. 

So to quote our Head of Strategy asked by a client what is our secret – “we have made it really easy for ourselves”. 

It’s so easy to complicate and over invest in a lot of different areas. When business is good, we see growth everywhere and it makes sense to diversify. Had we not done that, we would not have the war chest of tech to pick from. All of the fragmented R&D could now be integrated into a product which we just love to use.