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Big Doesn't Mean Better

Wednesday December 8, 2010

We’re updating and developing our new website. On the face of it, that’s not particularly interesting – but it doesn’t half focus the mind. Suddenly, everyone’s sounding like a Marketing manual, offering thoughts on differentiation, focus, traction, philosophy, insight….but   actually, they’re right. Ultimately, even in Advertising Production & Implementation, it’s about ticking the right boxes. And there are a few boxes we can tick which our competitors struggle with.

I read an article in last week’s Marketing Week in which Mark Choueke interviewed Reckitt Benckiser’s UK Chief, Camillo Pane. This was a light bulb moment for me. When Mr Pane explained that “Speed of thought is key to taking on the giants”, I understood that the perceived benefits of size and scale per se are not differentiators. RB have offices all over the world with net sales of £7.75bn in 2009. Funnily enough, even though they seem pretty big from where I’m sitting, they are a relatively small player compared to main   rivals Procter & Gamble and Unilever. So, that must be their Achilles’ heel, mustn’t it?  Well, no actually. For RB, it’s a competitive advantage. As Camillo Pane explains, “…. Speed is the factor that allows RB to compete with its older and large competitors..” and more specifically “… speed of thought, speed of decision making and the speed at which RB is able to rattle off category-defining NPD and get to market”.

They’re in manufacturing and we’re in Advertising Production & Implementation, but in reality we could almost be twins! We might be small but, like Reckitt’s, we can operate with nimbleness and flexibility – in the time it takes an advertiser to walk into one of our large competitor’s offices, wait in reception, go up to the boardroom on the 23rd floor, wait for coffee and then have an introduction to the C-person, we have had the brief, looked at logistics, studied media plans, received approved creative from our clients, adapted artworks, taken care of all necessary translations and approvals and shipped them to the various media in a multitude of markets. Well, almost.

The point is that the David vs Goliath principle is alive and well. And that’s the ‘light bulb’ moment for me – how do we at ICP compare   with some of the “giant” competitors we’ve got out there?  Unlike most of them, we’re small and independent and tailor our service to suit our clients’ needs.  And we’re staffed by accessible, friendly and deeply un-corporate, bullshit-free people who care. But, in terms of getting the job done, no matter how big, there’s no difference.

The point is that big is not better and small can be quite beautiful (and at 5 foot 4, I’d like to think I can carry that theory off)…

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