Mike Cleary of BuyMeMedia tells us about how they make media memorable and strategic planning unforgettable.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mike Cleary: My daughter has Cystic Fibrosis, and my wife works for the NHS, so it’s been frightening living through the pandemic, fortunately, they have both had the first vaccine now, so we see the light at the end of this tunnel.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded BuyMeMedia.
Mike Cleary: I have worked in advertising for 25 years, starting in the press, the onto Out of home, and then radio for some of the UK’s biggest media owners, starting as a telesales rep and ending as Head of Sales. After many years of people saying I should start up my own agency, I felt that with my knowledge, contacts, and experience, the time was finally right, and I started up BuyMeMedia 5 years ago. My intention was to have an agency that was hardworking, honest, and always putting the customer first. Even if it meant low margins, to begin with, grow relationships, and demonstrate our abilities in a very competitive industry.
How does BuyMeMedia innovate?
Mike Cleary: I always think you never stop learning and always encourage staff to keep up to date on new technology. I surround myself with talented people and reach out constantly to talk to industry leaders. We monitor what works well and have an open-door policy for companies wanting to present new media, new ideas. We take our clients’ brief and then discuss what will work best, look at ideas, encourage being brave, and often try it ourselves first to try and break it before recommending or taking it to market.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mike Cleary: Literally overnight, our clients who were using out of home paused everything. This meant a huge loss in revenue. However, most of our clients were still trying to keep going through the pandemic. We looked at types of media and shifted budgets to those that would maximize reach in difficult times. We, therefore, chose Digital marketing, eCommerce, radio, and TV. Helping clients tweak websites, build eCommerce pages, redesign and tweak where needed, embrace social platforms and look at how the new platforms will help with sales and revenue. This ensured they were ready to adapt to new buying trends and habits of consumers, whether that was B2B or B2C.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mike Cleary: I wouldn’t say they were difficult choices once we researched. It became a natural shift. We already used the media; it was just making sure that the consumers’ new habits would suit the shift of budget for clients. Many of our clients are seeing record-breaking months now, and we are looking forward to easing lockdown measures. Lessons learned are to have a good relationship with your media owners as it’s key when the market changes like this, and you have to look at contracts. Keep sight of your core values and work harder than ever. In the beginning, I decided to work 3 times harder just to continue at the same pace before Covid. We knew once through, we would be stronger as a business. It put our staff and me in the right mindset to get through difficult times.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Mike Cleary: We have a robust and detailed CRM system which has been key to keep on top of the changes. I use iCloud-based systems for sharing information between ourselves and clients, so they are up to date on all the new media. Reporting regularly is key, and we have a number of software systems that ensure we are current and up to date. For clients, we utilize everything from Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Programmatic advertising, PPC, etc. In terms of management, the most important thing is to be constantly assessing, keeping everyone informed and involved. Encourage dialogue and feedback.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mike Cleary: Our competitors are ad agencies (of which there are many); lots come and go, the important thing is to stick to your core values. Ours always puts the customer first, goes the extra mile when needed, and always tries and over deliver. Look after your staff and make sure they know they are appreciated for their hard work. Clichéd, I know, but I keep it simple.
Your final thoughts?
Mike Cleary: Work harder than anyone else, keep it simple and always look at your recommendations and ask yourself, “is that’s what’s best for the client.”