It’s not you, it’s me

Since my last post, I’ve heard from scores of people wracked with remorse and regret, devastated by the idea that it’s their own lack of feedback and engagement which has brought these proceedings to a standstill.

In a desperate attempt to relieve this widespread trauma (well, a couple of people have kind of mentioned it), I really ought to admit that my grumble about the infrequency of comments from readers was a gratuitous sideswipe, not a big point.  The big points about the current interruption of service are that a) I’m too busy, and b) I can’t think of anything to say.

Although obviously I did find something to say just now.  Hmm.  Maybe the subject of not writing a blog gives me a whole lot of new things to write about.  How would that work?

Au revoir, not adieu

I’m not completely happy about this, and I retain the right to have second thoughts, but in my mind this date, 12th May 2010, is notable because:

a)  it would have been my father’s 84th birthday;

b)  it is the first day of the new Con-Dem-Nation government, bringing Messrs Cameron and Clegg together in their posh schoolboys’ alliance;

and c)  it’s the day on which I’ve decided to put this blog on ice for the time being.  (Isn’t it weird that in this blogging program, WordPress, the only words with squiggly red mis-spelling underlines are “blog,” “blogging” and “WordPress?”  Even “squiggly” sneaked through un-squiggled.)

My loyal reader may be disappointed, but I have reasons, albeit of an obvious and unsurprising variety.  First, I’m really busy at the moment.  Second, I fear that the blog’s readership, always minuscule, has now become mini-minuscule, especially since it stopped appearing on the Tangible Financial website. And third (obviously related to the second), I’ve never got very far in establishing the blog as a genuinely interactive medium, with about 90% of the few comments it has generated being written bymy old friend Simon Wood under a bewildering variety of aliases, but even by its historically low standards it’s fallen off the chart recently:  I haven’t managed to spark a single comment for over a month.  Oh yes, and one other thing:  not sure why, but I don’t seem to be able to think of anything to say at the moment.  Blogger’s block?

Anyway, thanks for reading.  I will be back, just as soon as I have a bit less of this bloody client work to deal with.

Why the stats on repitches are bad news for Gordon

It’s obvious.  To be honest, I don’t think anyone really knows what proportion of agencies repitching for business actually manage to hang on to it, but I think everyone does know that the proportion isn’t high.

True, it’s probably somewhat higher in so-called “statutory” repitches, when the clients claim (truthfully or otherwise) that they’re obliged to put the business up for review after a given period of time:  and that’s obviously a closer analogy with a General Election than the non-statutory kind.

But even though the announcement of a statutory review doesn’t necessarily indicate any actual dissatisfaction with the agency’s performance, the business still changes hands remarkably often.  And when you think about it, the psychology is pretty obvious:  forgive the rather complicated metaphor, but it’s a bit like three or four attractive and clearly very enthusiastic people of the appropriate sex pitching against the incumbent to be someone of the appropriate sex’s boyfriend or girlfriend.

The thing about the incumbent in this situation is that he or she is a known quantity, and that inevitably must mean that some of what is known is not good.  The newcomers are unknown quantities:  since they haven’t actually done anything yet, they haven’t done anything bad.  If the decision-maker is loyal, careful, fair and risk-averse, then he or she may take the view that the new candidates are bound to have imperfections too, so the incumbent’s failings shouldn’t loom too large.  But if the decision maker is a flighty, thrill-seeking hedonist, well, you can see what’s going to happen, can’t you.

The broader and somewhat more troubling question that arises from this is the extent to which any of us would really like to be judged on our track records.

I’m not thinking here about individual client relationships.  I’ve often been involved in teams working on particular accounts that have done an excellent job for their clients and could certainly go into any repitch with their heads held extremely high.  I’m thinking more in a rather middle-aged helicopter-overview way about the whole damn thing – the extent to which the sum total of what I’ve done over more than 30 years in agencies does justice to my abilities.

I’m not sure whether it’s usual or unusual, or for that matter a good thing or a bad thing, but I must own up to a pretty strong feeling that my career over all those long years undersells me.  I appreciate that I’m very probably quite wrong about this:  that even if I’m right to think that some of my strengths could have taken me further,  I’m silly and myopic not to realise that my corresponding weaknesses have inevitably held me back.

But anyway.  I’m writing this as election commentary, not therapy.  And mark my words:  assuming that David Cameron gets in on Thursday (and I’m quite strongly inclined to think he will, although whether with an overall majority is a much more difficult call), the biggest single reason will not be a long-lasting one:  it’ll just be because we don’t really know anything seriously bad about him.

Or not yet we don’t, anyway.