10 Reasons to Hire an Intern

It’s never too late to hire a summer intern. They can offer enthusiasm, energy and a willingness to learn at a bargain price – isn’t that what we’re all looking for? And if you live close to a college campus, sometimes those interns can work through the fall semester and continue to add value as the year comes to a close. Don’t underestimate their knowledge. While they may not have the same level of experience as your junior employees, they are learning the latest in industry trends and practices and could offer a fresh perspective on strategies. Here are a few reasons why we think interns are great contributions to your team.

  1. Professional internships can supplement your current staff with an infusion of energy, new ideas and different skills. The students often bring with them a ‘can do’ attitude and an enthusiasm for applying their university-gained knowledge.
  2. Interns are highly motivated, short-term employees that can help you complete projects that you don’t currently have the bandwidth to accomplish.
  3. By securing or payrolling interns through a staffing firm, you can save the time and money needed to acquire and administer these resources. If your FTE budget is frozen, classifying interns as temporary employees might allow this expense to be applied to other available budget lines.
  4. If your business could benefit from foreign language skills, universities are a great place to find them. It should be fairly easy to find a student who is fluent in English and one or more foreign languages.
  5. Internships are an ideal way to increase the capabilities of a small staff with little additional investment. Traditionally, interns were seen only at large corporations, but many of today’s students are interested in entrepreneurship and seeking a small company experience.
  6. Internship programs help an organization identify potential future hires.  The CIO of the Young Presidents Organization uses internships as a low-risk recruiting tool to ensure a strong IT organization in the future.  “It’s a good idea to develop relationships with the schools,” he says, because “in a few years their graduates may be in high demand.” By working with professors at local colleges and universities, he is able to attract some of the best and brightest students to his IT department.
  7. Interns are more interested in building their resume than building a nest egg, so they are diligent workers. According to Eric Farr of Brigham Young University, interns are engaged and will go the extra mile to ensure that you provide them with a glowing reference.
  8. Interns offer inexpensive, skilled labor without adding full-time headcount.  They are a good alternative when budgets are tight, especially considering the fully loaded costs of a full-time employee (which include salary, bonuses, payroll taxes, and benefits).
  9. Interns can be assigned to newer managers to further their management training and experience.
  10. Interns help your business stay agile and competitive by matching human resources to current business requirements.  As temporary or part-time employees, they reduce the burden of layoffs when business slows.  On the flip side, interns who are available full-time during the summer months may be able to work 15-20 hours a week during the school year if you still need them — but the option is always yours.

In addition to these advantages, internships are a wonderful way to help build the workforce of tomorrow.  If you are thinking about augmenting your staff with an intern this summer, most local universities have an organized internship program with directors who can help match your organization with the right candidates.

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Accelerate Your Marketing Momentum

Twice a year, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business pulls together more than 400 of the best marketing minds in America and asks one essential question – How are you doing? 

Connote-Duke-CMO-Study-StatsOkay, there are technically a bunch of questions, but the general tenor of the survey remains: Let us know what’s going on in your neck of the woods. Marketplace dynamics, social media, organization, and leadership are all covered, as are a multitude of other topics.

The topic of momentum, and how it applies to the workplace environment, has never been more relevant to marketers. As companies continue to climb — or attempt to climb — out of the Great Recession hole, they’re relying more heavily on their marketing teams to beat the bushes and truly know their customers.

These circumstances bore themselves out in the most recent CMO Survey. Respondents are more bullish about the U.S. economy than in recent quarters, up nearly 20 percent since February 2009. At the same time, marketing hires have dropped: 4.7 percent of respondents planned to hire in the next 12 months, down from 6.2 percent in 2011. (B2B companies, though, expect a hiring bump.) Companies are also still experiencing difficulty implementing social media and analytics into their marketing strategies.

Here are some tips from CMO Survey Director Christine Moorman on how to keep your marketing department challenged, and to keep the momentum you’ve earned.

GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE, AND THEN INTRODUCE THEM
This is especially important in the analytics world, the survey finds. Respondents were asked how challenging it was to find the right marketing analytics talent on a scale of one to seven, with one being “not at all challenging” and seven being “extremely challenging.” More than 83 percent selected higher than a four. “This is why IBM is going to India: We’re not producing enough people,” Moorman said. She suggested the General Mills model of constant recruiting.

Once the talent has arrived, it’s necessary to incorporate the team completely. Instead of having a separate area for the analytics team, Proctor and Gamble seats business analysts with brand managers, forcing them to interact. It’s reminiscent of Pixar, whose Steve Jobs-designed headquarters only has one set of bathrooms, in the building’s main atrium.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO LEARN FROM OTHER INDUSTRIES
Take Mexican cement company Cemex for example. They were having trouble delivering a ready-mix cement to job sites in a timely fashion, so they looked outside their industry for help. The natural fit, strangely? FedEx. FedEx ships millions of packages worldwide annually, and has the infrastructure to ensure the deliveries are done efficiently. Since there was no overlap in industries, Cemex and FedEx officials were able to meet and share best practices without risk of competition. “Part of this is, who has the momentum?” Moorman said. “Don’t be narrow-minded in the way you search for the right kinds of insights.”

USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS A TOOL, NOT A REPLACEMENT
Social media is not going away (Proof: social media spending is 7.4 percent of marketing budgets today, and respondents expect that to climb to 18.1 percent within the next five years), but companies are still having a hard time determining how to integrate it into their marketing strategies. Less than 7 percent of respondents said it had been integrated “very effectively,” the highest option on the survey. That level of integration has stayed nearly constant since 2011, indicating that, despite social media’s continued growth, companies still don’t entirely know how to use it. The most damning stat: Nearly 50 percent of respondents said they “have not been able to show the impact” of social media.

Part of the confusion, Moorman said, is that marketers need to realize social media is the new tool, and not to confuse that with marketing fundamentals. Who is the customer, and what do they want? Who is most valuable? Those questions sometimes get lost in the sea of likes and retweets. “A lot of CMOs have caught on, but the question is how to really develop a capability in this area—pulling it off for the long run—that’s a repeatable process,” Moorman said. Marketing departments need to be able to replicate social media success, not just hope to catch lightning in a viral bottle.

MAKE ALL OF YOUR EMPLOYEES “LISTENING POSTS”
Marketing budgets are rebounding, yes, but companies would also be wise to utilize their own employees more efficiently. Marketing department employees are paid to keep their ears to the floor, follow the most recent trends, and react. But what about the salesforce? The sales department is an often under-tapped resource in companies, Moorman said, and should be turned to for insight more often. This is especially true at B2B companies, where the salesforce is often gathering competitive intelligence anyway, and could easily share with marketing.

For more information about The CMO Survey, please visit cmosurvey.org.

This article was originally published in Connote Magazine by Bradford Pearson.

Bilingual Production Artist Helps Client Reach Global Marketplace

CONGRATULATIONS!

APRIL EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH

Lyndsay Ottosen, VP of client services; Ivonne, April  Employee of the Month; and Kim Cook, Senior Manager of Talent Solutions

Lyndsay Ottosen, VP of client services; Ivonne, April Employee of the Month; and Kim Cook, Senior Manager of Talent Solutions

Congratulations to Ivonne, Freeman+Leonard’s April Employee of the Month. Ivonne is an extremely talented Bilingual Production Artist that is a joy to work with! What started out as a few month contract position has extended into the long-term. Thank you, Ivonne for all that you do! We truly appreciate you.

Why We Need to Restore the Momentum of Trust in the Procurement Era

Client-Agency Relationships

By: J. Francisco Escobar, Freeman+Leonard Game Changer

Much change has taken place in the marketing services industry since the year 2000. The advent of the “Procurement Era” along with two severe economic shocks—the dot-com bust and, more recently, the “Great Recession”—have taken a toll on the most important component of marketing services relationships: the element of trust. Three major areas are responsible for this erosion of trust between marketing clients and their agency partners—transparency, equity, and the interpretation of value. Without agreement on standards and guidelines in these vital areas, individual marketers have been left to their own devices, while individual agencies have been somewhat defenseless against a hodge-podge of interpretations and practices that threaten the very fabric of commerce.

TRANSPARENCY

As the spend-based commission system has become virtually irrelevant as a total form of agency compensation, the predominant use of labor-based models has opened the door to client-side procurement and strategic sourcing to exploit transparency in the interest of lowering the cost of services. The use—or, rather, misuse—of benchmarks, all in an attempt to get agencies to fully disclose their proprietary financial information and business economics, has at times been ludicrous. What our industry clearly needs are rules of the road for what is acceptable and unacceptable, in what may be called “limited full disclosure.”

Trust is eroded when a client feels like its agency is withholding information, or when an agency feels like its client is over-reaching (e.g., requesting individual salaries).

We must heed the wise words of business guru Peter Drucker from his 1954 classic, The Practice of Management, “… the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer; the business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” So long as we allow relationship stakeholders to view marketing as a cost to be reduced rather than an investment to be optimized, the issue of inappropriate financial transparency and benchmarking will NOT go away.

More recently, the subject of transparency has been at the center of two burning issues in media remuneration—rebates and programmatic buying. The former is an age-old controversy, and the latter a new-age dilemma.

REBATES

Media rebates are a totally normal and acceptable business practice in many countries. In some cases, they are the dominant form of income for media agencies. Thus, it boils down to just two issues of transparency in any given client/agency relationship. First, has the media agency disclosed to its client the markets in which it is receiving rebates? Second, has the client expressly written into its agency contract(s) how rebates will be treated? A lack of either disclosure or specific contractual language creates an opportunity for, and perception of, foul play.

PROGRAMMATIC BUYING

In the rapidly expanding digital media space, programmatic buying, real-time bidding, and other activities generated by demand-side platforms (DSPs) have created significant revenue growth opportunities for technology providers and a host of marketing/media services providers. The capital investment required by these firms to play in this exchange marketplace is significant, coupled with the clear risk associated with carrying media “inventory.”

Large players in the industry have taken differing positions on the financial transparency of their “trading” companies, from full to very limited disclosure of profitability on individual and cumulative transactions. There is currently no right or wrong answer; it is up to individual clients and agencies to ensure they are having sufficient dialogue in this area so that there is a clear understanding about current business practices as it relates to their unique relationship. Anything less will keep a client wondering if they are being exploited, further eroding trust.

EQUITY 

There is no greater enemy to trust than the lack of equity in a relationship. When it comes to assessing fairness in client/agency relationships, one needs to look no further than the contractual agreement between the parties. While there are way too many instances to discuss the subject of equity in contractual matters, there are three areas where the greatest transgressions take place.

1. AUDIT

When a client/agency relationship begins to exhibit trust issues, the contract is unearthed to ascertain what is contained in the audit provision. It is vitally important that this provision be so unambiguous as to not be subject to liberal interpretation by either party. At minimum, audit provisions should include the following:

  • Reasonable notice period and conducted during business hours
  • Require an audit plan with clear objectives shared with agency beforehand
  • Auditors under nondisclosure with agency
  • Mutually acceptable external audit firm, not compensated on a contingency basis
  • Restrictions — no access to personnel data, agency overhead/profit, other client data
  • Limited to one audit every 365 days (unless there is evidence of contractual breach)
  • Findings favoring agency go to offset findings that favor client
  • Audit results shared with agency prior to finalizing report to client
  • Reasonable length of time in which audit may take place after termination (1 to 2 years)

2. COMPETITIVE EXCLUSIVITY
While there are certain untenable competitive situations—such as Coke/Pepsi, AT&T/Verizon, and Home Depot/Lowe’s—most others are often 80 percent perception and 20 percent reality. A well-written and equitable exclusivity clause should force the client to list its competitive concerns. Additionally, these restrictions should apply mostly to identifiable key agency personnel on the staffing plan. And, most importantly, the clause should bring the parties together in dialogue.

3. PAYMENT TERMS
Without exception, there is no more contentious, damaging, and inequitable issue facing our industry today than that of payment terms. A little history sets the stage. In 2004, the merger between Belgium-based company Interbrew and Brazilian brewer AmBev created the brewing company InBev. Within two years’ time, InBev embarked on an ambitious global cost-reduction initiative which centered around a movement to unilateral 120-day payment terms across its entire supply base.

InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser-Busch in 2008 brought this issue to the U.S. and started a domino effect across the largest global packaged goods companies, and the industry as a whole. Although several industry groups are working to address the issue directly, there has been no concerted effort to denounce this practice as patently unfair and damaging to the service provider community, and ultimately the overall marketer ecosystem. How can it be that companies whose current cash position may exceed the market capitalization of the biggest marketing services holding companies expect to extend cash payments, particularly in the current low interest rate environment on cash deposits? And even more ironic is the concept of cash neutrality in master service agreements, where large advertisers expressly define it as what it truly is and then choose to apply it only to the cash management of media expenses between themselves, agencies, and media owners, but not to fees, production, or third-party expenditures.

VALUE

The notion of value has become central to the dialogue as the industry makes attempts to get away from payment based on people’s time to that of results generated by agencies’ deliverables. But who ultimately defines value and, more importantly, who determines it?

Two bellwether companies, representing the largest marketer and most valuable brand in the world, respectively, have taken it upon themselves to lead the industry with “value-based” compensation models. Sadly, both of them miss the mark on an interpretation and application of value that would engender and foster trust with their agency supplier partners.

In both cases, payment is initially determined by historical labor-based models and adjusted based on each company’s definition of value. Then, the ultimate determination of value is once again solely the purview of the client, with a significant component being a subjective, qualitative evaluation of agency performance.

The real benefit in these two models is purely on the buyer’s side. On one hand, creating a general contractor model removes internal/external cost, which then eliminates multiple touch points, transactions, and negotiations. But efficiencies are gained by managing agencies via menu pricing and standardized spreadsheets.

To their credit, both companies have continued to enhance their respective models since their joint introduction in 2009, but neither appears to have budged in the direction of increased collaboration on the definition and determination of value.

Value, like transparency and equity, has to be a two-way street. Nothing could be more productive in client/agency relationships than the dialogue that is created between the parties to mutually define success and value for their unique “marriage.” And even more interesting is when actual monetary value can be tied to the accomplishment of collaboratively devised objectives. When a client and agency can agree to a scope of services that relate to realistically achievable objectives, and the agency is able to exceed them, then you have true incremental value that should be rewarded accordingly. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery, but it does require a commitment by both parties to put in the necessary effort, energy, and time to ensure a fair and honest playing field. Doing so can only serve to encourage and restore trust.

Restoring a momentum of trust in the marketing services industry calls for explicit, concerted action by the major industry associations.

We desperately need collaboratively developed standards and guidelines governing the critical issues of transparency and equity in client/agency relationships. Conversely, value should remain a nut for individual, involved parties to crack. Given the uniqueness of each and every engagement between marketers and their supplier-partners, every significant statement of services or statement of work (SOW) between the parties must contain a specific section addressing the mutual expectations of transparency, equity, and value.

J. Francisco Escobar, is a Freeman+Leonard Game Changer and founder of JFE International Consultants, is a business management advisor to global advertisers and agencies in the marketing services industry. He has restructured and stewarded major agreements from both sides of the negotiation table. He speaks internationally on issues surrounding marketing procurement and optimizing business relationships.

Freeman+Leonard President Participates in Biz Women Mentoring Monday

What a concept!  Speed mentoring, kind of like speed dating, only for dispensing career advice. That was the goal of BizWomen Mentoring Monday, founded and supported by the business journals all over the country, and, in this case the Dallas Business Journal.  Forty women mentors, local business experts and leaders, sitting down and proffering career advice to more than 300 mentees. Freeman+Leonard President Kathy Leonard and Freeman+Leonard CEO Valerie Freeman served as mentors for the event.

Carol Roehrig, President of BKM; Kathy Leonard, Freeman+Leonard President; Valerie Freeman, Imprimis Group CEO; and Renee Arrington, SVP Pearson Partners

Carol Roehrig, President of BKM; Kathy Leonard, Freeman+Leonard President; Valerie Freeman, Freeman+Leonard CEO; and Renee Arrington, SVP Pearson Partners

Each mentor spent seven minutes with each mentee for an hour, which meant mentoring about eight mentees each. Mentees of all ages were able to ask the mentors all kinds of questions regarding career, job progression and professional development.  Afterward, both mentors and mentees had the opportunity to network further and relax with Candy Smith’s great cocktails, Honey Bee and Lemon Drop. Candy recently launched her own cocktail products and doing quite well in the marketplace.

IMG_9103

Here are a few of the themes that emerged from the mentoring sessions:

  1. Don’t be afraid to try a new assignment, take on different duties even if you don’t know it all or even half of it
  2. If you want to get ahead, be prepared to work very hard and look at problems as challenges – and be easy to get along with i.e. don’t be a jerk at work
  3. Find a mentor, sponsor or others you can learn from and network with – your network is your net worth
  4. Toot your own horn – make sure the powers that be know of your accomplishments
  5. Read, study, learn, keep up with what’s going on in your field or the one you want

Traffic Project Manager Becomes Vital Part of Client Team

CONGRATULATIONS!

MARCH EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH 

Rachel Runnels, Director of Talent Solutions, Lisa Brooks, Vice President of Client Service , Constance, Employee of the Month, and her supervisor Scott.

Rachel Runnels, Director of Talent Solutions; Lisa Brooks, Vice President of Client Services; Constance, Employee of the Month; and her supervisor Scott.

Congratulations to Constance, Freeman+Leonard’s March Employee of the Month. She has exceeded expectations consistently during her 1.5 year contract that is not ending anytime soon. The client just wouldn’t know what to do without her! Thank you Constance, for doing such a fantastic job. You are much appreciated!

Freeman+Leonard Web Developer Wows Clients

CONGRATULATIONS!

JANUARY EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH

January Employee of the Month, Andrew, and his wife.

January Employee of the Month, Andrew, and his wife.

We are excited to announce Andrew as our Employee of the month to kick off 2015.  Andrew is one of Freeman+Leonard’s go-to web gurus, and we love his work so much that he developed our website as well as our sister company’s. He has worked with several of our clients and is always praised for his amazing work, attention to detail and communication skills.

Thank you, Andrew, for all that you do!